Good-Looking Colt. Nice Story. 5-2 Odds. What’s Not to Like?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It is hard not to like California Chrome. He has run away with four stakes races by nearly 25 lengths combined. He is a handsome and agile colt with muscles bulging beneath his gleaming chestnut coat and a stride as effortless as a glider skipping on clouds. He has an interesting back story as well.
Two workingmen bought his mother, Love the Chase, for $8,000 and then bred her to a sire by the name of Lucky Pulpit for the rock-bottom stud fee of $2,500. They gave the colt to Art Sherman, now 77, who was a teenager when he first came to Churchill Downs in 1955 with another flashy colt called Swaps.
Sherman and Swaps shared a boxcar and a bed of straw for a couple of nights before Bill Shoemaker booted Swaps home in the Kentucky Derby and into the most famous winners’ circle in America.
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The long shot Mine That Bird, guided by Calvin Borel and trained by Chip Woolley, won the 2009 Kentucky Derby.
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California Chrome, the favorite in Saturday’s Derby, is trained by Art Sherman, who has never had a Derby entrant.
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Sherman went on to be a jockey who was good enough to get an arm around the shoulder and a kind word from the legendary Eddie Arcaro. He rode thoroughbreds and quarter horses and was one of the sharper card players in the jocks’ room. He also parleyed his horse knowledge into a trainers’ license and has won more than 2,100 races, mostly on the California circuit.
This will be the first Derby without a good friend, who passed away last year. I miss Jody.