Monday, November 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California Chrome’s story may never repeat

Belmont Stakes Horse Racing

Assistant trainer Alan Sherman holds Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome as he is bathed after a workout, Monday, June 2, 2014, in Elmont, N.Y. California Chrome will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 when he races in the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

By
June 04, 2014 |

AURORA, Colo. — A message to horse lovers and dreamers out there: This will not happen to you.

Well, almost certainly not.

For all the buzz California Chrome’s feel-good run at the Triple Crown is generating for horse racing, his too-good-to-be-true story has virtually no chance of repeating itself, according to the numbers.

The horse that will line up at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday is the product of an unspectacular mare and an equally unheralded stallion, bred in a state not known for producing winners and owned by a couple of racing outsiders who were labeled “dumb asses” for even pondering such a thing.

Byron Rogers, whose business is scientifically analyzing genetic makeup of racehorses, puts the odds at 50,000-to-1 against a horse with the strength and the stamina of a California Chrome ever showing up again among the 21,000 or so thoroughbred foals born each year. It’s the sort of horse that shows up maybe once every three years, but even then doesn’t always find his way into the spotlight because success requires a magic mix of the right owner, trainer and opportunity.

California Chrome was born at well-respected Harris Farms in Coalinga, California, and trained by longtime horseman Art Sherman, the 77-year-old who returned to the big-time nearly six decades after going to the Kentucky Derby as an exercise rider for Swaps, who won the 1955 Derby.

“This horse had everything go his way,” Rogers said. “He had just about perfect genetics. Art Sherman is a very good trainer. Harris Farms is a good farm. You couldn’t predict any of this at the start with this horse.”

In fact, Rogers says, if California Chrome’s parents were paired again, odds are only about one out of 10 their offspring would make it to a stakes race.

It’s a reality that horsemen on the lower end of the sport, which is where California Chrome’s owners once lived, are in touch with every day. Most aren’t in it to reach the big time, only to break even with their expenses.

“It’s all about luck and timing,” says Shannon Rushton, executive director of the Colorado horse racing association, speaking recently at Arapahoe Park outside of Denver, where the Kentucky Derby is a distant dream for almost every man and horse. “Every year, you kind of hope that, at some point and time, you might be the one to lead a horse into the paddock on Breeder’s Cup day or Kentucky Derby day.”

The odds, even when the bloodlines are much more refined than California Chrome’s, are very much against it.

Rogers says between only about 3.5 percent of thoroughbreds born each year are good enough to run in a stakes race. Only 20 can make it to the starting line at the Kentucky Derby. And yet, those odds have actually improved over the last decade, since the economic turndown also brought a slowdown in breeding. In 2005, the registered foal crop in the United States totaled more than 35,000. Last year, it was estimated at 21,275, continuing a steady decline that began in 2006.

Still, when owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin decided to buy an undistinguished filly, Love the Chase, for $8,000 a few years ago and breed her to an equally ordinary stallion named Lucky Pulpit, they knew they were buying into a fairy tale, the likes of which almost never end like this.

“There’s always the dream. I think dreams are great,” said Scott Powell, who owns and trains horses at Arapahoe Park. “But you have to deal with reality, too. It’s not Kentucky Derby or bust.”

While horsemen like Powell appreciate what California Chrome could do for their sport, they recognize the one-in-a-million nature of the whole thing.

“The goal is that they make money to maintain themselves,” said Gilberto Dorantes, running his 3-year-old horse at Arapahoe Park on Memorial Day for the first time after growing up listening to his grandfather’s stories about being a horseman in Mexico. “That’s the goal. To enjoy the horses and have them do what they were bred for. That’s the best thing I can do for those horses.”

Dorantes spent around $500 on Dobes Bee — a far cry from the millions a select handful of very rich owners spend as they look from stable to stable, often turning to science, to find their magic horse.

Rogers said his business of merging data and genetics has burgeoned over the past few years, as big-money investors uncover as much information as possible in the quest to find the right horse to take big.

He doesn’t expect thousands of copycat attempts in the next year, though Ian Tapp, a longtime horseman who keeps tabs on the breeding market, says California Chrome’s success could produce an uptick in breeders in the colt’s home state, much the way the success of Pennsylvania-bred Smarty Jones 10 years ago fueled the horse business in his home state.

“It gives some people at the bottom end of the commercial market some hope that there is an ability for them to have a good racehorse,” Rogers said. “It tells them it doesn’t have to go to (trainer) Todd Pletcher and be raised in Kentucky and have all these other things that trend in favor of other horses.”

Rogers estimates about 40 percent of a thoroughbred’s potential can be predicted by genetics. After that, it’s up environment and then a roll of the dice.

“I know people who are obsessed with (winning the Kentucky Derby),” Powell said. “What a miserable life if that’s all your goal is — to live to try to obtain something that is really not attainable for the average person. They better be doing it for other reasons or it will eat their lunch.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Cadets raise cash to help wounded Air Force veteran

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Solano cities gather for Thanksgiving meal

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

    Holiday boutiques in full swing

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Food Addicts group sets Thanksgiving Day meet

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Local government board schedules meeting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Turkey Trot returns Thanksgiving Day

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

     
    Holiday tree-lighting events begin

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

     
    .

    US / World

    3 months after Napa quake, recovery rolling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Anxieties mount as Ferguson waits on grand jury

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Thief suspect falls through ceiling, leaves phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    1 killed, dozens injured in California bus crash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    San Jose police arrest man after airport chase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Surfer missing off beach south of San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Crew blasts off for International Space Station

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    US tells Iran to consider nuclear talks extension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Damage worse than thought in Japanese earthquake

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Joey Chestnut devours turkey to win eating contest

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Strong quake in west China kills 5; 54 hurt

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Boy with fake gun dies after shot by Ohio officer

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

     
    Israeli Cabinet moves to define Israel as Jewish

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Former DC Mayor Marion Barry dies at 78

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Islamic State group recruits, exploits children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Giffords rides in Tucson cycling event

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Suicide bomber kills at least 45 Afghans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Some 30 horses die in stable fire outside Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Health care M&A leads global deal surge

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    .

    Opinion

     
    OMG, am I eating a GMO?

    By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

     
    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Today in History: Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    My sister-in-law expects me to pay her for damages, but she won’t pay me

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

    List of winners of the American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    1D, Katy Perry win big at American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    ‘Mockingjay, Part 1′ opens with $123 million

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    TVGrid Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Sports

     
    Speights scores 28 as Warriors hold off Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hyde scores go-ahead TD, lifts 49ers past Redskins

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Federer leads Swiss past France for Davis Cup

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hamilton answers Rosberg in style to clinch title

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Revs win 2-1 at Red Bulls in East final 1st leg

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Sarvas puts Galaxy past Seattle 1-0 in West opener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    First lady attends Princeton women’s hoops game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Stacy Lewis sweeps 3 biggest LPGA awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    UCLA honors Robinson, retires No. 42 for all teams

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Katy Perry to perform at Super Bowl halftime show

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    NFL roundup: Seahawks roll past Cardinals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Athletics acquire 1B Ike Davis from Pirates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jack I. Johnson

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

    Dorothy Pouge Arnold

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Arthur Irving Weiner

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    .

    Comics

    Blondie Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Zits Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Peanuts Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Beetle Bailey Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    B.C. Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Get Fuzzy Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Garfield Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Frank and Ernest Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Wizard of Id Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baby Blues Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    For Better or Worse Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Dilbert Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Bridge Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Sudoku Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Cryptoquote Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Word Sleuth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Crossword Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Sally Forth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Baldo Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Get Fuzzy Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Zits Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    For Better or Worse Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Blondie Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    B.C. Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Garfield Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Dilbert Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Rose is Rose Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Frank and Ernest Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Peanuts Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Beetle Bailey Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Pickles Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Wizard of Id Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Bridge Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Sudoku Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Cryptoquote Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7