Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Back in May, my mom, my sister Cathy, and Ruth Brown went to the Kentucky Derby. All three women were pulling for their favorite horse, but none of them picked the winner, California Chrome. Since the Kentucky Derby, California Chrome has become a household name and is the preferred winner for the Belmont Stakes. As I write the first part of my column on June 5, I am betting on America's Horse and hopeful that California Chrome will run into history and be the first Triple Crown Winner in 36 years. Most Americans are familiar with the Cinderella story of how a little known horse from California won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes bringing his winning streak to six races including the Santa Anita Derby and the San Felipe Stakes. The horse has won consistently after being paired with jockey Victor Espinoza and has developed a dedicated fan base known as “Chromies” who have a zealot-like devotion and firmly believe in their underdog. California Chrome is called the people's horse, has a distinct curious personality, enjoys posing for pictures, and likes to perform.
The owners of California Chrome are Steve Colburn and Perry Martin who named themselves DAP Racing (Dumb Ass Partners) after someone said only a dumb ass would pay so much for a horse. The horse in question was California Chrome's mother that cost a mere $8,000. DAP Racing runs under purple and green colors with a picture of a bucktooth donkey on the back. However, Steve Colburn does not care what people think. Before California Chrome was born he says he had a dream that the colt was going to win the Kentucky Derby. When the big Chestnut colt was born, Colburn believed his dream was coming true. In fact Colburn said when you have a dream; if you are willing to ride it out your dream will come true. Colburn also believes their horse could win the Triple Crown. Besides the interesting business name, the horse was trained by 77 year, Art Sherman who is the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby. He was chosen by the owners because he is an “old school” trainer and spends a lot of time with his horses. Sherman works with his son and thinks that American horse racing needs a Triple Crown winner.
The jockey, however, could be the deciding factor in who wins the Belmont since it is the longest race of the three and the rider must know exactly when to push the horse forward to win. So, for today, June 5, I am hopeful just like most of America that California Chrome will win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
Fast forward to Monday. The race is over; California Chrome did not win, in fact he did not do well, but neither did his owner who angrily criticized rules concerning horses running in the Belmont. Now there are two schools of thought in the owner's rant. Some believed that his rage ruined the Cinderella Story, while others agree that allowing horses that had not run in the Derby or the Preakness is unfair.
Later when Colburn apologized on national TV, he said he was just very disappointed because he wanted his horse to win for the American people. Regardless of which horse won the race, or how the owner responded, the account of California Chrome is a great story.
For two ordinary guys to invest $10,000 in a horse with less than a perfect blood line, win over $2 million to date, have a national following, and be the center of international news, it's a dream come true.
In reality, however, most of us are just like Mr. Colburn. We have a dream, we work and pray for our dream to come true, and when it does, we want more. Colburn's original dream was to win the Kentucky Derby. He won. He then wanted to win the Preakness; he did. And when Colburn lost the Belmont, he failed to remember that his dream had already come true.
In 1993, I read a fictitious story about a man that had a good life but was miserable because his life did not turn out the way he planned. He fretted about what he did not have until it made him quite ill and as he lay dying he said to God: “Remember when I was a boy and I told you all the things I wanted.” “It was a lovely dream,” said God, “Why didn't you give me those things?” asked the man. “I could have,” said God, “But I wanted to surprise you with the things you didn't dream of like your beautiful family, a good job, a safe place to live, and your health.” The man then said to God, “But I thought you would give me what I wanted.” “And, I thought you would give me what I wanted” said God.
The man was amazed that God could want for anything, and asked him what he wanted. God said: “I wanted to make you happy with what I’d given you.” The man lay in the dark all night thinking. Finally he decided to dream a new dream. He dreamed that what he wanted most were the things he already had.California Chrome may have disappointed the owners by not winning the Triple Crown, but for two old guys that started with a $10,000 horse, they got what they wanted, their dream came true.