Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome has been named 2014 USA Horse of the Year.
California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) won by a wide margin, receiving 143 votes compared to 53 for Main Sequence (Aldebaran) and 36 for Bayern (Offlee Wild) during Saturday evening’s 44th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park.
Owned and bred in California by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome is trained by Art Sherman. The striking chestnut won the California Cup Derby by 5 lengths at Santa Anita in January and followed up with a 7 length stroll in the G2 San Felipe Stakes and 5 lengths victory in the G1 Santa Anita Derby in April.
Next came the Triple Crown and California Chrome justified his 5-2 favouritism at Churchill Downs by comfortably taking the 140th running of the G1 Kentucky Derby. He stretched his winning streak to six a fortnight later in the G1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
California Chrome became just the third horse in history to sweep the San Felipe-Santa Anita Derby-Kentucky Derby-Preakness, joining Hall of Fame champions Affirmed and Sunday Silence.
His bid for the Triple Crown fell short when fourth in the G1 Belmont Stakes on June 7.
Resuming in September, he finished a below-par sixth in the G2 Pennsylvania Derby but rebounded notably in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic finishing a neck back of Bayern in third after just missing with a courageous rally.
California Chrome’s connections elected to keep him in training and the gamble paid off handsomely in the G1 Hollywood Derby. He concluded 2014 with 4 Group 1 victories earning $4,007,800.
He is the first foal from the mare Love the Chase, a daughter of Not for Love who posted her only victory in a Golden Gate maiden in 2009. Coburn and Perry acquired her privately for $8,000 and mated her to California-based Pulpit stallion Lucky Pulpit who stood for $2,000.
California Chrome is the first three-year-old Horse of the Year winner since the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and the first California-bred since Tiznow in 2000.
He will return as a four year-old in the G2 San Antonio St (1800m) at Santa Anita on February 7.
HORSE OF THE YEAR: CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit)
2YO MALE: AMERICAN PHAROAH (Pioneerof the Nile)
2YO FILLY: TAKE CHARGE BRANDI (Giant’s Causeway)
3YO MALE: CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit)
3YO FILLY: UNTAPABLE (Tapit)
OLDER MALE: MAIN SEQUENCE (Aldebaran)
OLDER FEMALE: CLOSE HATCHES (First Defence)
MALE SPRINTER: WORK ALL WEEK (City Zip)
FEMALE SPRINTER: JUDY THE BEAUTY (Ghostzapper)
MALE TURF HORSE: MAIN SEQUENCE (Aldebaran)
FEMALE TURF HORSE: DAYATTHESPA (City Zip)