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California Chrome Impressive in Kentucky Derby Win

Steven Coburn and Perry Martin’s favored California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took command at the head of the stretch en route to a 1 3/4-length victory over Commanding Curve to win the 140th running of the $2,202,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).

California Chrome

California Chrome

A  crowd of 164,906, the second-largest attendance in Kentucky Derby history, watched California Chrome give jockey Victor Espinoza a second Derby victory to go with his triumph on War Emblem in 2002. The largest Derby crowd was 165,307 in 2012.

Art Sherman, 77, conditions California Chrome and became the oldest trainer to win a Kentucky Derby winner. Charlie Whittingham was 76 when Sunday Silence won the 1989 Kentucky Derby.

“Just awesome. I’m breathless,” said Sherman. “This is so cool. I think I rode the horse with Victor (Espinoza) the last 70 yards. It was a picture-perfect ride. He was right where he should have been all the way around. Coming down the stretch I was thinking: ‘Keep rollin’ big boy. Keep rollin’.’ This has to be the sweetest moment of my life. To be my age and have something like this happen, what can you say? For all my friends in California, this is for you. We did it!”

Uncle Sigh led the field of 19 through fractions of :23.04 and :47.37 with Chitu and Samraat in closest pursuit. California Chrome led the second pack and began to close in after six furlongs in 1:11.80.

By the time the field hit the top of the stretch, California Chrome was showing his heels to all of his pursuers, opening up at midstretch and coasting under the wire well clearing of Commanding Curve.

The victory was worth $1,442,800 and increased California Chrome’s earnings to $2,577,650 with a record of 11-7-1-0.

California Chrome is the first California-bred to win the Run for the Roses since Decidedly in 1962. He is a son of Lucky Pulpit out of the Not For Love mare Love the Chase. California Chrome covered the 1 ¼ miles on a fast main track in 2:03.66. California Chrome paid $7, $5.60 and $4.20. Commanding Curve, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, paid $31.80 and $15.40 with Danza, ridden by Joe Bravo, finishing 1 ¼ lengths behind Commanding Curve in third and returning $6 to show.

It was another 2 ¾ lengths back to Wicked Strong, who was followed in order by Samraat, Dance With Fate, Ride On Curlin, Medal Count, Chitu, We Miss Artie, General a Rod, Intense Holiday, Candy Boy, Uncle Sigh, Tapiture, Harry’s Holiday, Vinceremos, Wildcat Red and Vicar’s in Trouble.

Churchill Downs communications

AP photo