As father time has crept through my wonderful life, as a sports scribe it has become easier to lend perspective. You begin to understand greatness a little better and place more value on those “special” times and athletes you see. Of course, my teachers told me in school I was “special”, but I think that was a different kind of “special”. Trying to analyze the why and why not of it all keeps the world turning. After a shining performance on December 17, I think maybe I figured something out about one of those unique performers.

California Chrome has been a shining light in the sports world since late 2013. The bad news about the world of Thoroughbred horse racing is sometimes a colt wins a few big races and he is whisked away to the breeding world. After winning the 2014 Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Hollywood Derby, it would have been easy to send him to the shed. Thank goodness however, it is about to be 2017 and he is still providing chicken skin. We know his days on the racing dirt are numbered with the Pegasus Cup in January as his last start, but his record and career earnings tell us of his greatness. Here is where the analysis comes into play. How has he done it all?

After watching another sterling performance by Chrome it hit me. Ignorance is bliss for this four-legged phenom. Either nobody told him, or he has refused to listen. He didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to accomplish miraculous stuff with his feets. A son of Lucky Pulpit and Love The Chase bred in California is not supposed to win the Kentucky Derby, but he did. A horse based at Los Alamitos race track trained by a little-known veteran of the game named Art Sherman is not likely to win over $12.5 million on the track, but he has. A horse that suffers injury at 4 shouldn’t come back at 5 and win the Dubai World Cup and Pacific Classic, but it happened.

The Winter Classic run at a mile and a sixteenth on the Los Al home dirt made the light bulb come on. We know he was running against a full field comprised of some lesser-knowns, but once again California Chrome proved his greatness. I don’t think anyone whispered in his ear before the gates opened that you are not supposed to take a wide trip and set a track record when not really challenged in the stretch, but guess what…

To summarize, part of what has made this brilliant athlete special is his refusal to lose to doubt. He has never known he couldn’t, For California Chrome and his team it has simply been a case of believe and achieve. That mind set is something we can all grab a hold of and that without question makes him one of those “special” ones.