California Bred Horse Wins Kentucky Derby for the First Time in Decades

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — All winter and spring, California Chrome kept getting better, even as his top 3-year-old rivals succumbed to injuries or delivered stagnant performances.

Jockey Victor Espinoza begins to celebrate after guiding California Chrome to victory in the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2014, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. (Credit: Associated Press)

The Kentucky Derby is known for confounding expectations with its packed fields and unevenly tested competitors, but California Chrome struck a blow for order today as he surged to victory in the first leg of the Triple Crown in front of an announced crowd of 164,906, the second-largest attendance in the Derby’s 140-year history.

Starting from the No. 6 post as a 2-1 favorite, California Chrome stayed close to the lead the entire race and poured it on down the stretch under jockey Victor Espinoza, winning easily in an unofficial time of 2:03.66. Commanding Curve came in second while Danza finished third. The second-choice coming in, Wicked Strong, was a respectable fourth.

California Chrome, a chestnut colt, is the first California bred to win the Derby since 1962. He was the fastest horse coming in and also, perhaps, the best story.

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