05/03/2014 9:05PM

Kentucky Derby: Win for California Chrome casts pedigree in new light

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John Bambury
California-bred California Chrome rolled in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday evening at Churchill Downs.

Much has been written about California Chrome’s pedigree over the past three months, ever since the 3-year-old son of Golden State stallion Lucky Pulpit drew raves with a 5 1/2-length victory in the California Cup Derby on Jan. 25 at Santa Anita. The scrutiny only intensified afterward, as California Chrome in succession took the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in dominant fashion to head into the Kentucky Derby as the clear favorite.

Analyses of California Chrome’s breeding focused on the modest race and stud record of his sire and on the captivating, up-from-the-boostraps tale of his owners and breeders Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, who purchased the colt’s dam, the Not for Love mare Love the Chase, for $8,000. California Chrome’s bloodlines and backstory thus only added to his outsider allure, and the colt’s authoritative 1 3/4-length win Saturday under the twin spires in Derby 140 is a rubber stamp for one of horse racing’s most repeated, yet sometimes forgotten adages: a good horse can come from anywhere.

California Chrome adds to A.P. Indy’s luster by becoming the third Derby winner in the past five years to carry a strong influence from Lane’s End’s living legend. A.P. Indy’s son Malibu Moon sired last year’s victor Orb, and A.P. Indy is also the broodmare sire of 2010 Derby hero Super Saver via his productive daughter Supercharger. California Chrome’s grandsire, the late Claiborne Farm stallion and 1997 Derby fourth-place finisher Pulpit, already had a reputation as one of A.P. Indy’s most successful sons at stud, and California Chrome’s elevation of Lucky Pulpit to a Derby sire only enhances the multi-generational power.

Love the Chase won one race, a maiden claimer at Golden Gate Fields, and earned $7,020, accomplishments so ordinary that others discouraged Martin and Coburn from purchasing her. However, there are founts of stamina to be found in the mare’s pedigree.

Her dam Chase It Down – California Chrome’s second dam – did not produce a stakes winner, but is a half-sister to Amourette, twice a stakes winner at 1 3/8 miles and the dam of Grade 3-placed turf router Lemonade Kid. Chase It Down and Amourette are out of Chase the Dream, by Sir Ivor, a stakes winner and Grade 3-placed at 1 1/16 miles.

Broodmare sire Not for Love brings another of America’s fertile breeding sectors to the equation, as the superbly-bred son of Mr. Prospector has been a constant presence at or near the top of Maryland’s sire list this century.

Coburn was quick to point out in the post-Derby press conference that California Chrome’s dam Love the Chase is also inbred 5X5 to Swaps, the 1955 Derby winner that was exercised by a 16-year old future jockey – and future Kentucky Derby-winning trainer – named Art Sherman.

Cassandra Maynard 9 months ago
I'm not saying that breeding has nothing to do with a champion race horse's ability to win races, but I do truly believe that truly great horses have a superior ability to oxygenate their blood more efficiently that other horses while running flat out. That said, there were several famous race horses that far exceeded people's examinations of their pedigrees. Man O' War and Secretariat being the most famous, were found, after their deaths, to have extra large hearts. Not enlarged hearts, which is a harmful condition, but large, oversized hearts compared to those of other horses. This would definitely give them an advantage when running distances against other horses - and it did. I think if California Chrome is able to beat the field and win the Belmont, the longest of the three Triple Crown races, we may some day find out that he too had an extra large heart.
BarbaraF 9 months ago
I wonder what the breeding plans are for the dam of California Chrome now? Maybe they repeat that breeding?? Or maybe she might now justify to be bred to something thought to be more outstanding... Many mares don't make it at the racetrack because mares are less likely to have the temperament, but she has proven herself as a broodmare with just this one winner, Many broodmares are never raced at all, and thus have no track wins to their credit. Those badmouthing this mare should shut up, as they are now making themselves look stupid and ill-bred. This mare's rocket has left the launching pad and is headed up, up and away!
blues 9 months ago
swaps influence is coming through, running fast and easy.
David Voelker 11 months ago
The Kentucky people "really" hate this
Scott 11 months ago
Some of you guys just blow my mind. MSW 2 races later had the same split for 1 1/16th mi. as the derby! Gimmeee a break! You guys are ridiculous that the track condition was comparable to earlier races. Before you start with your garbage talk take the time to l@kk at Ria Antonias race at Santa Anita on Derby Day & compare it to California Chromes race the same day. Now l@@k at the Kentucky oaks race @ Churchill Downs the day before the Derby and check out her time for 1 1/8th mi. compared to the Derby on Saturday. Do ya see something strange??????? Seems pretty clear to someone who can do simple math.
Danny Jimenez 11 months ago
Some of the problems with our current breeding is focused on the Sire and Dam and maybe 2nd and 3rd Paternal and Maternal Lines and end of story. While Maternal side is important. I am one of the belief that if the horse has traces of classic distance in him, like Chorme has, Swaps, Nashua, A. P. Indy, Secretariat. then he may run to such genes. California Chrome has the capability from an "extended" pedigree aspect of getting the Belmont distance and he should. Will see what happens.
Marian Pearcy 11 months ago
La Troienne and Betty Derr. Don't forget the female line. Betty Derr is behind Iron Liege, Swaps, Arch and Althea.
Linda Keefer 11 months ago
Maynard do you remember Seattle Slew? A horse no one wanted, sold for $17,500, lack luster pedigree unless you looked back a few generations...umm Triple Crown Winner and excellent sire!
Thomas s 11 months ago
Chrome's mare line? La Troienne four times. What else does he need?
Maynard 11 months ago
So many extolling the pedigree of a horse that won the Derby in one of the slowest times witnessed ever, on a fast track. Maybe the breeding wasn't actually that wonderful but the others were even worse. Most of them had distaff ancestry that left a great deal to be desired. Also, how do you explain some of the jockey decisions such as Borel losing many lengths by going straight over to the rail instead of doing it gradually or Intensive Holiday, a closer, being kept up on the pace? And Danza was slammed and almost propelled into the rail and then had to check and shift course to get running room coming down the stretch. If the widely esteemed Commanding Curve (Not) had had a bit more distance, we would all be talking about how they should stop breeding sprinters for the classic distances. Chrome's pedigree was being knocked because his sire is a sprinter and has been getting sprinter offspring. His sire and damsires AWDs were the lowest in the race.His dam was not good enough for anyone to even figure out what distance she would prefer. CC might win the shorter Preakness, but to win at Belmont he'll have to cut across the infield.
Lawrence MacSelwiney 11 months ago
The track was not watered for 2 hours prior to the running of the 11th race, The Derby. The track was extremely dry and soft. add the head wind down the backside and you have the recipe for a slow timed race. This race would have probably been run in 201 and change earlier in the day.
prose 11 months ago
Lawrence, the Beyer numbers are supposed to reflect that change. The Beyer boys tell us they take all that stuff into account, and they say they adjust for mid-card changes on any given day. I certainly think they would do it for Derby day. This was a horribly slow time and the Beyer was reflective of that. None of those horses were good, Lawrence. The breeding industry in this country is stupid and greedy and morally bankrupt. They have wrecked the breed for anything but sprints. Why do you think the Breeders Cup keeps electing geldings and mares as horses of the year? There is no one else worthy.
Ron Arroyo 11 months ago
"none of those horses were good" ???? dude your an _______ fill in the blank
Ceil Rock 11 months ago
His dam had a breathing problem. They made the decision to retire and breed her rather than have surgery.