California Chrome went off as the 5-2 Derby favorite coming off wins in four straight starts, including the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, all in his home state of California. Regular rider Victor Espinoza gave the modestly bred son of Lucky Pulpit a perfect ride, sitting just off the early pace in the third position before moving to the lead at the quarter pole. From there California Chrome opened up a five length lead in the stretch and easily held off the late closers to win by 1 3/4 lengths. It marks the second Derby victory for Espinoza and first for Art Sherman, who became the oldest Derby-winning trainer at 77, while propelling co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin to national stardom. This moment received 30.5% of the vote.
Moment of the Year balloting was conducted at the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and offered voters 10 different images illustrating a range of human emotions as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. Finishing second was Wise Dan’s triumphant return from surgery to win the Grade II Bernard Baruch at Saratoga Race Course with 20.07% of the vote.
“California Chrome’s win in the Kentucky Derby was the signature effort by one of the most popular racehorses of this decade,” said Keith Chamblin, NTRA Senior Vice President of Marketing. “This year was arguably the deepest pool of moments we’ve ever had but in the end the fans reminded us that nothing trumps an awesome performance by a legendary horse.”
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene between Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The next year’s winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant’s Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone’s upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex’s spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes.
Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was a historic victory by filly Rags to Riches over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 as fans selected her triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2010, fans selected Blame’s narrow Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta. Drosselmeyer’s hard-fought win over Game on Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the public’s choice for 2011. For 2012, the recovery of Paynter from near-deadly battles with laminitis and colitis captured the hearts of voters like no other story. Last year, fans recognized Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his popular connections.
Tags: 140th Kentucky Derby, Art Sherman, Barbaro, Belmont Stakes, Breeders' Cup, California Chrome, Charismatic, Chris Antley, Funny Cide, jockey, Moment of the Year, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, NTRA, Perry Martin, Santa Anita Derby, Seattle Slew, Steve Coburn, ThoroFan Awards, Tiznow, Victor Espinoza, Zenyatta