CHROME’S FINAL CALIFORNIA RACE WAS SIMPLE
Time always lends perspective. As the calendar of life turns before my very eyes its becomes more and more evident. Sometimes we might wonder “why” when something is going down, but then later we understand.
With the days flying by, the four-legged legend known as California Chrome continues to grow. As the all-time leading money winner among North American Thoroughbreds (over $14.5 million), this cult hero has enjoyed a captivating career. A living movie script, this brilliant behemoth has been a fine example of competitive athleticism we all can admire. So, when it was announced back in late November that Chrome would be running in a race at Los Alamitos Race Course, there were more than just a few noggins that were scratched. Yes, we know that is the home of Chrome, but fear and some “what ifs” were running rampant like he did on Kentucky Derby day 2014.
The Pegasus Cup and the richest single race purse in the world is awaiting, so why risk injury? What if something weird happens and he gets upset? He has ran for millions, so why run in a race worth $100,000? Following the December 17 afternoon performance and a recent talk with his loveable trainer Art Sherman, my previous thoughts were absolutely confirmed and I had my perspective solidified.
One of the reasons everyone should love Thoroughbred horse racing is for its simplicity. California Chrome cares nothing about money, he just wants to run and win. His conditioner gave Chrome exactly what he wanted, a chance to perform in his own back yard.
“The race at Los Al was great,” says Sherman. “Chrome finally got a chance to walk out of his stall and onto the track. He put on a show, set a track record, and then got to walk back to his stall at his barn. No shipping, just staying home and having fun.”
Say what you will about the 11 horses that lined up against him that day, but the fact is, he did set a track record (!:40.03) in the mile and a sixteenth race. And yes, Sherman did it for his “horse of a lifetime”, but there were other reasons as well.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in Orange County and so does Chrome,” says Sherman. “The people at Los Alamitos have been so good to us we wanted to race for them too. They have taken such great care of us we really thought his last race in California should be here.”
Perhaps a few lines from that old Lynard Skynard song “Simple Man” sums it up. Forget the lust for the rich man’s gold. All that you need is in your soul.