Valley horse rates as favorite to win Kentucky Derby

Even the most casual observers of horse racing have reason to cheer during Saturday's Kentucky Derby. (KFSN)
May 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Even the most casual observers of horse racing have reason to cheer during Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Race favorite "California Chrome" was born and raised right here in the Valley.

Horses like "Lucky Pulpit" can't get enough of the crunchy carrots. Even with a $10,000 stud fee he is the most popular stallion in California because he sired "California Chrome," a 5-2 favorite to win the derby.

Dave McGlothlin of Harris Farms in Coalinga is extremely proud because "California Chrome" was bred here three years ago. The racehorse was born to a friendly mare named "Love The Chase."

McGlothlin said, "She's an 8-year-old mare. His first foal is California Chrome. He certainly got the racing world's attention at the moment. We're very excited about his prospects."

A 3-month-old filly is "California Chrome's" sister.

"Love the Chase" was purchased for $8,000. The race favorite's road to the derby was an improbable one. Mcglothlin explained, "That's one of the attractions to the game. You don't have to have the biggest bankroll to participate. You just have to have the dream."

Per Antonsen saw something special in "California Chrome" when he began training him. He said, "I would say he kind of stood out more maybe because the chest, the white chrome he had on. Kind of a little flashy looking. He was a really smart horse. He was really nice to work with."

Per told the horse's owners they'd have fun with him.

McGlothlin said a lot of local people have helped "California Chrome" develop into an elite racehorse. "It's very exciting. It's like one of our kids because from the actual mating of the mare down to delivering as a foal, raising him, starting him in training here. He's a product of the valley."

A California horse has not won the first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown since 1962 but the local thoroughbred has a shot. McGlothin said, "We're hopeful he breaks well, stays out of trouble and has a clean path. If allowed to run his race we are very excited about his prospects."

Antonsen added it will be a crowded 19 horse field. "So many things can go wrong, getting closed in but I figure if he has a clean trip I think he's the horse to beat."

The Kentucky Derby is all set for Saturday. John Harris of Harris Farms is at Churchill Downs.

The owners of "California Chrome" - Steve Coburn and Perry Martin - are sitting on a pretty good investment. They turned down a $6 million offer for half ownership of the derby favorite.