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California Chrome wins 140th running of the Kentucky Derby

The favorite who was also the longshot won the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.

California Chrome may have been the 2-1 favorite entering Saturday's Run for the Roses, but his appearance at Churchill Downs was nothing if not a minor miracle. He's no Kentucky blue blood, born to an $8,000 dam; is trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, who never before trained a Derby horse; had never raced outside of his home state of California; and is owned by a couple of guys who call their stable Dumb Ass Partners.

And yet he won the Kentucky Derby going away, sprinting away from the field down the stretch, winning in a time of 2:03.66.

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Victor Espinoza and trainer Art Sherman celebrate after California Chrome's victory. (AP)

Commanding Curve was second. Danza was third.

Chrome, with its reputation as a speed horse, was the heavy favorite entering the race, with Wicked Strong (6-1), Danza (8-1) – yes, named after actor Tony Danza – and Intense Holiday (8-1) garnering attention, too. None presented Chrome with any sort of challenge.

The biggest question mark regarding the favorite heading to post time: How would he break from the gate?

Chrome hasn't lost since November, putting together four straight victories entering the Derby. But in his last loss he bucked in the gate, leading to a slow start and eventually a sixth-place finish.

That wasn't the case Saturday. Chrome bolted from the gate with the field, running up front nearly the entire way. As the horses entered the final turn, Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza made their move. By the time they got to the top of the fronstretch, Chrome had the lead and only extended it as they headed toward the pole.

The win was Espinoza's second at Churchill Downs, while Sherman became the oldest trainer to ever win the Kentucky Derby.

Before the race, Steve Coburn said he and co-owner Perry Martin were offered $6 million for 51 percent ownership of Chrome. They declined, preferring to hold out for the glory of a Derby victory.

And they got it, along with a $1.4 million purse.

"We'll see you all in Maryland, and then we'll see you all in New York," Coburn told NBC after the race, referring to the Preakness Stakes in Maryland and Belmont Stakes in New York, the final two legs of horse racing's Triple Crown. "Yes, we're going. We're going. Why not?"

The bid for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 continues on May 17 with the Preakness Stakes.

 

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