A Valley horse wins the Kentucky Derby. California Chrome, a Coalinga born colt, took the victory title at this year's prestigious race and brought a big sense of pride to Central Valley. The horse was born, bred and trained at Harris ranch in Coalinga, and those who knew him say they noticed something special early on.
It was a story book win, from a story book horse. Saturday, California Chrome became the first California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby since 1962, and the first ever to come from Coalinga's Harris Ranch.
Harris Ranch owner John Harris says, "It was pretty amazing."
Harris was in the stands at Churchill Downs when his very own graduate crossed the finish line.
"I got really teary eyed. It's just real emotion to see him make it," says Harris.
The celebrations continued back in Coalinga, as ranch employees watched the historic victory on television.
Harris Ranch horse trainer Per Antonsen says, "It's very exciting. Everybody works hard breaking in these horses and training them."
Antonsen personally trained California Chrome, and says he always stood out from the rest.
"I noticed he could be a special horse. He was so athletic and smart just like he does it all his life," says Antonsen.
The three year old colt is a descendant of 1955 Kentucky Derby winner "Swaps," but overall he has a humble pedigree. A small $2,500 dollar stud fee was paid for his sire, Lucky Pulpit, who still lives on Harris ranch, along with Chrome's mom; a pair that bred a big winner.
"We're proud of all our horses, win or lose, but for a horse like this to come off the farm, it's a real thrill," says Harris.
California Chrome will now compete for the triple crown; a title that hasn't been won in 36 years. His next race is the Preakness on May 17th.