In front of a crowd of 164,906 onlookers, 19 horses put on a remarkable show during Saturday's 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Trainers and jockeys prepared their respective horses nicely, as they entered their starting positions without any major issues.
Once the final horse was loaded, the bell sounded and the year's most prestigious race commenced.
California Chrome broke nicely next to Harry's Holiday and Chitu. However, it was Uncle Sigh setting the early pace in this year's Run for the Roses, riding the rail tightly on the inside.
Heading into the backstretch, Uncle Sigh remained out in front and set a slightly slow pace over the first half mile of the race. Smartly, jockey Victor Espinoza used his experience to pull California Chrome's reins, settling the horse into a fine position just behind the leaders.
As the horses made their way into the far turn, Uncle Sigh and Chitu began to run low on stamina. This allowed California Chrome to make his move.
Shifting to the outside of Chitu, California Chrome burst to the front of the pack at the top of the stretch, showing an amazing deal of stamina and closing speed.
Continuing to display dominance, California Chrome broke into a five-length lead heading into the final furlong.
Commanding Curve came on strong down the final stretch, making up a tremendous amount of ground from the outside. It was too little too late for the hose, as California Chrome's lead was simply insurmountable.
It was California Chrome by 1 3/4 lengths over Commanding Curve at the finish line, securing the Kentucky Derby win for a horse with an unusual pedigree, unproven trainer and little-known owners.
With that finish came the final results:
|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|
Here's a look at the full race, featuring California Chrome's sparkling performance:
With the victory, California Chrome ends a 52-year drought of winning California-bred horses at the Kentucky Derby. Art Sherman—at the age of 77—becomes the oldest trainer to win the race as well.
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
For owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, their gamble paid off. After paying $8,000 for a mare named Love the Chase and spending $2,000 to breed her with Lucky Pulpit, a Kentucky Derby winner was born.
Talk about a major return on an investment.
Jockey Espinoza won his second Kentucky Derby—his first win came 12 years ago on the mount of War Emblem.
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
Coburn had some witty remarks regarding his horse's origin after the race, according to Gary Mihoces of USA Today:
I really don't think he cares. Everybody else has been trying to tell him, the media, the sportswriters and so on. They've never given this horse any credence. He's a California-bred. They don't do this, they don't do that. Well, guess what, he don't know he's a California-bred, and I don't care if he knows it or not. But he is who he is, and he's a great horse.
He's a great horse, indeed.
California Chrome will now look to the Preakness on May 17 to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive.
Early odds for Baltimore's upcoming race are already coming in, according to a tweet from Covers.com:
California Chrome opens as a 6/5 favorite to win the Preakness. http://t.co/Z4BrQ5T3Rl— Covers.com (@Covers) May 3, 2014
Covers.com also tweeted the horse's odds of winning the coveted Triple Crown:
Winning the Triple Crown is a daunting task. The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978. It's easy to see how difficult earning these honors can be, given the fact no one has achieved the feat in the past 36 years.
Although, if anyone has a shot, California Chrome appears to be a very strong candidate.