Horse racing-California Chrome shines at Kentucky Derby

Sat May 3, 2014 10:20pm EDT
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(Reuters) - California Chrome won the 140th Kentucky Derby in brilliant fashion at a bright and sunny Churchill Downs on Saturday, adding another fairytale chapter to America's most famous and revered horse race.

Perfectly ridden by Victor Espinoza, the three-year-old colt pinned back his ears and sprinted clear of his rivals to win the $2.2 million classic by one and a quarter lengths.

Commanding Curve, a 37-1 longshot, charged home late to finish second while Danza, named after "Who's the Boss" actor Tony Danza, boxed on for third after trying to stick with California Chrome over the mile and a quarter journey on the Kentucky dirt.

Wicked Strong, the 6-1 second favorite named in honor of the Boston marathon victims, finished fourth after starting from the widest barrier but California Chrome was never truly threatened.

Unbeaten this season, California Chrome was installed as the 5-2 favorite after romping to victories in each of his four previous races, including last month's Santa Anita Derby.

When the 'Run for the Roses' got underway, California Chrome broke quickly and settled in third place.

He made his move as the field of 19 runners turned for home, taking the lead with a breathtaking burst of acceleration before the shadows of the iconic Twin Spires as the crowd of almost 165,000 let out a mighty roar.

Horse racing has been dubbed the "Sport of Kings" but it is also a sport full of glorious unpredictability and heart-tugging tales, and there have been few to match the unlikely rise of California Chrome.

His 77-year-old conditioner Art Sherman became the oldest man to train the winner of the Kentucky Derby.   Continued...

Victor Espinoza aboard California Chrome (5) celebrates after winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.  Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports