Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 5th 2014 Contents A51
Monday, May 5, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
LOUISVILLE---When the bugler
blew the call to the post for the
140th running of the Kentucky
Derby and the crowd at Churchill
Downs roared, the tiny, frail lady
slowly rose from her wheelchair
to her slippered feet. A white
sweater covered her thin shoulders,
and atop that she wore her son s
suit coat. An oxygen bottle was in
the undercarriage of the wheel-
After being driven to Louisville
from Michigan and enduring the
mob scene of Derby Day, the
moment 83-year-old Katherine
Martin was waiting for had finally
arrived. She was going to watch
from the rail---just inches off the
track---her son s colt try to win the
biggest horse race in the world.
When the No. 5 horse emerged
from the paddock tunnel onto the
track for the post parade, Katherine
pointed at California Chrome and
turned to her son, Perry. The burly
co-owner of the Derby favorite nod-
ded but said nothing.
Minutes later, after 19 horses
broke from the starting gate in
search of equine immortality,
Katherine watched them thunder
by with her fingers crossed and
pressed against her lips. She kept
her eyes fixed on the giant video
board as the race unfolded with Cal-
ifornia Chrome sitting in the garden
spot, just off the lead along the
As the colt edged up alongside
the pace setters in the far turn, Perry
switched from stoic to enthusiastic.
He clapped two meaty hands
together, sensing what was coming
next. As California Chrome surged
toward the stretch and took the lead,
Perry opened his mouth for the first
time in a long time.
"Goodbye, everybody!" he exult-
As California Chrome opened
daylight on the pack, Katherine
didn t quite know what to do. She
put her hands in the air, then tapped
her fingers on top of her white hat
in silent delight.
Perry didn t even see the last six-
teenth of a mile. He was hugging
his mom and blinking back tears.
I asked him a few minutes later
what it felt like to watch with his
mom this incredible, feel-good,
multi-layered miracle unfold. Tears
welled up, and no words came out.
Perry Martin simply nodded his
head and patted Katherine s shoul-
Martin is the silent partner in
California Chrome s working-class
ownership arrangement. He didn t
even attend the post-race press con-
ference, leaving gregarious Steve
Coburn to do the talking.
But the two men were equal
dreamers when it came to this horse.
Financial and stylistic opposites of
the thoroughbred power brokers,
they came together to form Dumb
Ass Partners, and their racing silks
have a donkey on them. They had
each paid $4,000 to purchase the
mare Love the Chase, then another
$2,000 to breed her to Lucky Pulpit.
The first foal was California Chrome,
which is a breeding fantasy come
In March, Dumb Ass Partners
turned down what Coburn says was
a $6 million offer for 51 per cent
interest in their colt. Could they use
the money? Absolutely. But the
decision wasn t a hard one.
"The answer wasn t just no,"
Coburn said Thursday. "It was hell
dream that s coming true?"
If they sold, the horse would no
longer race in DAP silks. And Cal-
ifornia Chrome undoubtedly would
be relocated to another barn, robbing
77-year-old small-time trainer Art
Sherman of the best horse he s ever
They stood by Art. And Saturday
he became the oldest trainer to ever
win the Kentucky Derby.
Fifty-nine years ago Sherman had
come to the Derby as the exercise
rider for Swaps, a great California-
based horse who won the 1955 run
for the roses. This week he visited
the horse s grave, which is at the
Kentucky Derby museum on the
grounds at Churchill.
But he also lived it up in Louisville
all week. In fact, he was spotted
Friday night at a downtown bar,
dancing with his wife of 53 years,
Faye, to "We Are Family."
This chance will never come
again, and Art Sherman knew it.
He wasn t going to spend Derby
Week in a stress bunker.
But Derby Day lasts an eternity
-- especially if you are saddling the
favourite. The minutes drag by. The
About an hour before the race,
Alan Sherman leaned over the cin-
derblock wall at Barn 20 on the
Churchill backside. His hands were
folded and his head was bowed, a
prayerful pose that he held for a
long time. Behind him, California
Chrome s head stuck out of his stall,
looking much more composed.
As Katherine and Perry Martin
were having their touching moment
along the rail, Alan Sherman was
in the middle of an unrestrained
celebration on the track. He watched
the race with exercise rider Willie
Delgado and groom Raul Rodriguez,
and there were flowing tears and
hugs between the three men.
"I compare this to my daughter
being born," Delgado said. "The two
most beautiful things in my life."
When the winner s circle presen-
tation was over in the infield, two
men picked up Katherine Martin s
wheelchair to carry her across the
track. Back on the bricks of the
Churchill paddock, they wheeled her
through the flotsam of the day---the
broken julep glasses, flattened alu-
minum beer cans and torn tickets---to
the Derby museum. That s the loca-
tion of the winner s party.
In her left hand she held a single
red rose, plucked for her from the
garland of roses that are laid across
the winning horse s shoulders.
On her face was a small smile.
"It was wonderful, wonderful,"
she said. "My son won the race."
And the entire sport won with
California Chrome pulls off Derby miracle
Victor Espinoza rides California Chrome around turn four to a victory during the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs on
Jennifer Judkins, right, and Juan-Carlos Capelli, third right, both of Longines, award trainer Art Sherman, second
right, jockey Victor Espinoza and owners Steve and Carolyn Coburn, second left, and Perry and Denise Martin, left,
with their Longines Conquest Classic chronographs after California Chrome won the 140th Kentucky Derby,
Saturday. AP IMAGES
MONDAY SPORT FEATURE
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