Our Views: We hope California Chrome shines today in Kentucky Derby

May 2, 2014 

It would seem somehow disloyal to bet against California Chrome, a native of our great Central Valley, in today’s 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. So we won’t even pretend to be disinterested.

If California Chrome wins, he’ll be the first California-bred horse since 1962 to take the first leg of the Triple Crown. And he’ll have the best storyline since Seabiscuit. His co-owners – Denise and Perry Martin of Yuba City and Steve and Carolyn Coburn of Topaz Lake, Nev. – are modest couples and novice horse breeders, nothing like the usual blue bloods of the bluegrass state. His 77-year-old trainer, Art Sherman, has never had a Derby starter. The Coburns live in a manufactured home.

California Chrome’s mother, Love The Chase, was aptly named since she spent most of her time chasing the leaders. She won only once during her career. Some of the partners who owned her wanted out, so the Martins and Coburns bought her for $8,000. As the story goes, a groom said, “Whoever buys this mare sure is a dumb ass.” So the new owners became DAP Stables, for Dumb Ass Partners. The jockey’s silks feature a bright green jackass.

Two seasons after being retired, Love The Chase was bred to Lucky Pulpit, a stallion at Harris Farms in Coalinga, part of the huge cattle ranch along Interstate 5. The stud fee was $2,500. In Kentucky, it’s not uncommon for studs to fetch $250,000. Still, California Chrome has good bloodlines. He’s a descendant of Swaps (aka the California Comet), who won the Derby in 1955.

Chrome is unbeaten this year, having won his last four races by 25 lengths combined. He goes to the post at 3:30 p.m. as the favorite – 5-to-2 in the field of 19 horses. But Chrome has never raced as far as the Derby’s 1¼ miles. And favorites have only won five times since 1980. If he wins today, the buzz will become deafening about his chances for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. If California Chrome can pull that off, his legend will last a lot longer than two minutes. And we’ll be cheering just as loudly in a couple of weeks.

Corruption is the topic

The subject on the Maddy Report this weekend will be corruption in California Senate. Mark Keppler will have Sacramento Bee editorial page editor Dan Morain as his guest. There’s plenty to talk about. You can get the podcast online at www.maddyinstitute.org.

Recognizing homegrown success

Many people believe that if the Central Valley is going to work its way out of the recession, it will be home-grown businesspeople showing the way. People like David Darmstandler and James Bates, owners of Data Path Inc. The Modesto entrepreneurs were named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2014 Central California Small Business Person of the Year. Data Path was selected over businesses from 15 other counties after being submitted by the Alliance Small Business Development Center. Bates and Darmstandler were close friends when they launched the business in 2005 to provide IT consulting, cloud services and IT support for small companies. We’re happy for both them and the region.

If only we had known ...

We’re glad to read that there is so much interest in the old Crows Landing Naval Air Station. According to a story by Garth Stapley this week, Tesla Motors, Mercedes-Benz and the cast from the TV show “Mythbusters” have all been using the area (or plan to) for testing or filming. This brings up an unexpected opportunity. There’s bound to be no shortage of people who would pay to see any of the activities taking place out there.

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