Kentucky DerbyLouisville, Ky. Churchill Downs
LOUISVILLE – When Art Sherman visited the grave of Swaps the other day at Churchill Downs, he stopped to say a prayer.
Sherman was 18 years old when he accompanied Swaps on a 4-day journey by rail from California to win the Kentucky Derby in 1955. Now, no longer a teen but a man in the twilight of his life, Sherman turned to the heavens to ask that California Chrome might be another Swaps.
His prayer was answered when the favored California Chrome, under a perfect ride from Victor Espinoza, drew clear by 1 1/4 lengths against longshot runner-up Commanding Curve on Saturday as the roar of the Churchill Downs crowd intensified with ever magnificent stride.
“He gave me the biggest thrill I ever had in my life,” said Sherman, who became the oldest trainer to win the Derby at 77. California Chrome’s dam, Not For Love, was purchased for a mere $8,000 by owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin. They refused a $6-million offer for 51-percent of the horse when the colt came to prominence.
Their courage is matched only by that of Chrome, who will go on to the Preakness Stakes on May 17 with high hopes for a Triple Crown bid. He will ride into Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore with a 5-race winning streak achieved by a combined margin of 26 lengths.
He is the first California-bred to bring home the roses since Decidedly in 1962. Sherman eclipsed the famed Charlie Whittingham, who was 76 when Sunday Silence provided him with the second of his Derby victories in 1989.
Espinoza broke from post five when War Emblem went wire-to-wire in 2002. He again left from post five with Chrome, but wisely kept him in third, an ideal stalking position. The colt made a bold move around the final turn and spurted clear as he entered the long stretch run, the roar of the crowd all but propelling the heavy favorite.
Sherman, a former jockey, said he felt as if he was pushing on the horse’s neck as the wire neared and a Derby dream came true for the second time.
“I was riding him the last 70 yards with Victor and he was riding him, too,” Sherman said. “He had a lot of weight on him, I will tell you that.”
For historical information on the Kentucky Derby, click here.
- Race Number: 11
- Date of Race: May 03, 2014
- Current Purse: $2,000,000
- Location: Louisville, Ky.
- Track: Churchill Downs
- Distance: 1 1/4 miles
- Surface: Dirt
- Horse Age: 3-year-olds
|Track ▼||Location ▼||Today's Races ▼|
- Fastest Time (since 1976): 1:59:97 (Monarchos, 2001); All-Time Record, 1:59.40 (Secretariat, 1973)
- Greatest Winning Margin (since 1976): 6 3/4 lengths (Barbaro, 2006)
- Past Winners: