California Chrome became the latest horse to etch his name into horse racing history, as he took the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
The favorite California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby! pic.twitter.com/LFddp21wXn— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 3, 2014
The Art Sherman-trained horse was hailed as the favorite in the Run for the Roses and—unlike many favorites to come before him—was able to live up to the hype as he blew by the rest of the pack down the final stretch.
Here's a look at the highlights from a memorable run for the big winner.
The California-bred horse's success stood out for a few reasons, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out:
It's only the 2nd time since 1980 a morning-line favorite at 5-2 or shorter went on to win the Kentucky Derby (2002 - Fusaichi Pegasus).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
California Chome is the first California-bred Kentucky Derby winner since 1962 (Decidedly).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
Of course, these trainers and jockeys aren't just riding for the pride that comes with making their mark on history, there's also some serious money on the line. The Derby is consistently one of the biggest paydays for those involved in the finish. Here's a look at how the prize money shook out for the top finishers:
|First||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||$1,442,800|
|Second||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||$400,000|
|Third||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||$200,000|
|Fourth||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens||$100,000|
|Fifth||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||$60,000|
One man who was overjoyed that California Chrome was able to live up to the hype was jockey Victor Espinoza. He became the Derby winner for the first time in over a decade:
Victor Espinoza is the jockey for California Chrome. It's Espinoza's 2nd Kentucky Derby win -- he won on War Emblem in 2002.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
Trainer Art Sherman also set a record himself:
Trainer Art Sherman is the oldest Derby-winning trainer ever (77 years old).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
Trainer Art Sherman: "Words can't describe how I feel. It's like a dream come true." #KyDerby— Americas Best Racing (@ABRLive) May 3, 2014
A near-record crowd witnessed the race this year, as the event continues to be the standard by which all other horse races are judged:
2nd largest crowd ever for #KyDerby today: 164,906. Largest was 165,307 in 2012.— Kevin Goheen (@FSOhio_KGoheen) May 3, 2014
As always, the question now turns to California Chrome's credibility as a Triple Crown contender. Although the accomplishment of following up a Derby win with a win at the Preakness and Belmont is a rare one, California Chrome's performance already has sites setting strong odds that he'll be the first to pull off the feat since 1978:
Kentucky Derby Champion California Chrome is +120 to win the Preakness and +180 to win the Triple Crown— Sportsbook.com ® (@Sportsbook_com) May 3, 2014
With the speed that he showed down the stretch in Kentucky, it stands to reason that he can handle the sprint that is the Preakness.
The real question will be whether he'll be able to once again weather a field chock full of hopeful contenders in the marathon final leg at the Belmont.