California Chrome didn't have the lineage, history or prototypical owner of a Kentucky Derby favorite, but he sure ran like one.
It wasn't nearly a wire-to-wire victory, but jockey Victor Espinoza spent much of the 10-furlong race atop the 5-2 favorite, per KentuckyDerby.com, with the pace-setting group before pulling away in impressive fashion down the stretch to win the 140th Run for the Roses.
Bleacher Report gave a look at California Chrome's margin of victory, which makes it look closer than it actually was:
The favorite California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby! pic.twitter.com/LFddp21wXn— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 3, 2014
Here's a look at the complete results and payouts:
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman|
|2||17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart|
|3||4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens|
|5||6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.|
|6||12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton|
|7||19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan|
|8||14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans|
|9||13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert|
|10||7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher|
|11||8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker|
|12||16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|13||18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler|
|14||3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa|
|15||15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen|
|16||2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker|
|17||9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher|
|18||10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo|
|19||1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert|
Although California Chrome was the ultimate favorite, that doesn't make the story any less magical. According to Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden, the Derby winner's mother, Love the Chase, cost its owners $8,000. The breeding rights for his father, Lucky Pulpit, cost about $2,000.
A $10,000 horse beating out the bluebloods for a $1.44 million prize during The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports is headlining stuff to begin with, but as ESPN Stats & Info noted, there was plenty more history set with the dominant victory:
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
Trainer Art Sherman is the oldest Derby-winning trainer ever (77 years old).— 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, Art Sherman not only became the oldest trainer ever to enter the winner's circle at Churchill Downs, but he also did it in his first-ever Derby appearance.
Afterwards, the 77-year-old rookie, who was training a horse that only "dumb-asses" would breed, talked about winning, via Evansville Living Magazine's Emily Patton and America's Best Racing:
"He gave me the biggest thrill I ever had in my life." - Art Sherman, trainer of California Chrome.— Emily Patton (@pemily) 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
Espinoza was a little more experienced. The 41-year-old jockey won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2002 on top of War Emblem.
As ESPN Stats & Info noted, he's now 2-for-2 when it comes to riding favorites:
Victor Espinoza is now 2-0 riding the favorite in Triple Crown races -- won as favorite with War Emblem in 2002 Preakness.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
And he'll get a chance to make it 3-for-3 at Pimlico in two weeks, according to Sportsbook.com's early odds:
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
It may be a little too early to start uttering the words "Triple" and "Crown" together, but California Chrome, who entered with a blazing Beyer speed rating of 108 and lived up to every ounce of the hype at Churchill, is undeniably worthy of the high praise.
Of course, he won't be without competition.
Commanding Curve, who entered as a 37-1 long shot, was near the back of the 19-horse pack around the second turn, but Shaun Bridgmohan rode a marvelous race, putting on the burners down the stretch to earn a second-place finish.
As ESPN's Lane Gold pointed out, it was more long-shot brilliance from trainer Dallas Stewart, who took underdog Golden Soul to a second-place finish last year:
Trainer Dallas Stewart does it again. Second place with a longshot. #KyDerby— Lane Gold (@lanegold) May 3, 2014
Commanding Curve was quickly gaining momentum on California Chrome down the stretch Saturday, and third-place finisher Danza, who is trained by the successful Todd Pletcher, was right there in the mix.
But at the 9.5-furlong Preakness, where California Chrome will be able to better utilize his world-class speed and not worry as much about the distance, they'll have to make their move much earlier to have any chance at catching the Derby winner.
If Saturday was any indication, though, the true obstacle between California Chrome and the Triple Crown will be the Belmont Stakes, where the long distance (12 furlongs) has a tendency to even the playing field.