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California Chrome

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Assistant Trainer Alan Sherman has his hat nibbled by California Chrome in at the Sherman barn shortly after a morning gallop in April. Sherman began his career as a jockey, later moving to trainer. “Ever since I can remember, I dreamed of winning the Kentucky Derby. But to go into it with the favorite and then actually win it has been amazing.” “I think the industry could really use a Triple Crown winner right now, especially with a story like this,” Sherman said. “This horse didn’t cost a ton of money to buy him or breed him. This goes to show you never know what can happen in this game.” Said his father Art, “I give a lot of credit to my son Alan. He’s my backbone. He watches the horse all the time.”

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Exercise rider Willie Delgado is assisted by Alan Sherman before a morning workout. “This is everybody’s dream, you know? He’s an amazing horse. I got lucky that I got the chance to get on him. You come into the track with a dream that someday, somehow you’ll get to the Derby whether you’re a jockey, hotwalker, groom, trainer, owner, whatever and for me, to get out there and not only get on this horse, have them (the trainers) trust me with this horse and bring me on this amazing dream… Just thinking about it now I’m getting a knot in my throat.”

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Groom Raul Rodriguez tends to California Chrome in his stall. Rodriguez is always with the horse and sleeps in the barn to tend to all of his needs. He talks special care of Chrome’s feet and ankles, which are especially important in racing. One seemingly small problem with hooves can cost the race. “Nobody takes better care of their horses than we do,” says Alan Sherman.

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California Chrome, led by groom Raul Rodriguez, walks in the saddling area at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. on April 5, 2014 prior to the Santa Anita Derby. California Chrome went on to win by more than 5 lengths in his and the Sherman team’s first million dollar race.

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Blinkers with the DAP logo representing the owners partnership called “Dumb Ass Partners” hang in Alan Sherman’s office. When co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin bought the mare for $8,000, someone told them they were “Dumb Asses” to do so. So on a handshake they formed their partnership under the name of “Dumb Ass Partners”.

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Co-owner Steve Coburn speaks during Preakness week. “When I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big. I don’t know what it is, but we’re going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be. I’ve been a firm believer in that ever since, and he’s not proven me wrong. This is a nice horse. He loves people. He loves what he does, and that’s why he’s America’s horse, because in my opinion, this horse, what he’s doing for two guys that work their butts off every day just to put beans and bacon on the table, this horse has given everybody else out there the incentive to say, you know what? We can do it too.” “We just hope that this horse is letting America know that the little guy can win.” Photo by Amy Gaskin

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Art Sherman, 77, leans over the rail to watch his horses train in the early morning at Los Alamitos Race Course. “I’ve never won at million dollar races. I was always kind of a claimant type of trainer. Now I’m up there with all the big boys, and I’m saying, ‘wow.’ It’s just an honor being blessed to have a horse like him. A Triple Crown winner, if you had said that to me at the beginning of the year, I would have said, ‘Are you crazy?’ Now that I’m getting closer, I’m elated, really big time.”

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Assistant trainer Alan Sherman, Allen Severinsen and Tony Novellino share a lighthearted moment after a morning workout at Los Alamitos.

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California Chrome pulls away from the field in the San Felipe Stakes on Saturday, March 8 2014 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. In his first stakes win, California Chrome won by 7 1/4 lengths.

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Fans cheer and celebrate during the final day of racing at Hollywood Park. California Chrome won his first race under Jockey Victor Espinoza.

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Jockey Victor Espinoza celebrates his win atop California Chrome at the Betfair Hollywood Park in the King Glorious Stakes, the last stakes race before Hollywood Park closed. California Chrome won by 6 1/4 lengths on Sunday, December 22, 2013 in Inglewood, Calif.

The Preakness trophy is carried to the winners circle.
The Preakness trophy is carried to the winners circle.

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California Chrome, led by groom Raul Rodriguez, exits the winner’s circle after winning the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17 in Baltimore, MD.

A list of Kentucky Derby essentials on assistant trainer Alan Sherman's desk.
A list of Kentucky Derby essentials on assistant trainer Alan Sherman’s desk.

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After the loss in the Belmont Stakes, NY, dismayed fans tore up posters and exited the park. The elusive Triple Crown will enter its 37 year with no winner. “I was just waiting to have the same kick like he always had before, and today he was a little bit flat down the lane,” said jockey Victor Espinoza.