Is California Chrome racing again?

California Chrome is still retired from racing!

California Chrome is still retired from racing!

People watching Monday’s final race at Delaware Park must’ve been surprised to learn that California Chrome was at the front of the pack. Surely, he’s still retired and enjoying his stud career? He can’t possibly be in a $10,000 maiden claiming race?

Of course not. But good natured track announcer John Curran kept calling a horse named Cowboy Chrome, California Chrome instead. The whole way around the track.

“I must’ve said at least five times before the race, Cowboy Chrome, Cowboy Chrome, Cowboy Chrome,” Curran laughed. “Then all of the sudden something happens in a race and you lose focus for just a second.”

What happened was that Curran lost one of the runners out of the gate and couldn’t locate him with his eye. He was so focused on figuring out that mystery, he mixed up the Chromes and didn’t stop until the race was over and he’d said the name of the three-time champion a total of six times.

“I had no idea I called him California Chrome,’ said Curran. “I didn’t know until afterwards when one of the stewards said, ‘you know you called that horse California Chrome?’ I said, ‘really?’”

Curran admits it’s not the first time he’s renamed a horse in the middle of a race. He said occasionally he’ll call a horse by his sire’s name or one of his relatives.

“How many Tapits are there? What’s the horse in your head? Is it Tapizar? Tapwrit?” said Curran. “I called North Carolina, South Carolina one year.”

On paper, the two Chromes appear very different. Cowboy is an 0-for-5 maiden who failed to win this race at 4-5 and has accumulated $10,000 in winnings. California won 16 of his 27 starts, collected nearly $15 million in earnings and half a dozen Grade 1s including the Kentucky Derby, Dubai World Cup and Pacific Classic.

Still, maybe a few Chromies will get a kick out of hearing their favorite horse’s name called in a race again.

“Maybe I can bring back somebody else today,” joked Curran. “How about Seabiscuit?”