Thank You California Chrome

by Penny Loeb

Chromies at the 2016 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park

Thank you California Chrome. You are far more than the nation’s highest-earning racehorse and 2014 and 2016 Racing’s American Horse of the Year. You touched hearts and gave hope and community to fans around the world.

Your admirers poured out their hearts on your Facebook pages. They marveled at your rags-to-riches story. “The foal with the pedigree that was scoffed at. The foal who beat the odds to become a champion — the definition of speed. He proved in the most amazing way possible that greatness can come from anywhere, in any size or shape.” Leila Elliott.

Your Facebook pages became a refuge from a crazy world. “CHROMIES have a special-unique bond & understanding that transcends any force I’ve ever encountered.” Bafara Mhinbe.

Your “family” (owners, trainers, groom, exercise rider, jockey) became family for your fans. They invited Chromies into their lives. You accepted cookies from your Chromies and posed for their selfies. “ I got to feed Chrome a cookie!!! I was like a child in a Candy store.” Cheryl Marsango Lombardi

Your everyday life was chronicled on Paddock Chronicles by three women who came nearly every week to your home base at trainer Art Sherman’s barn at Los Alamitos Race Course.“I have thanked you gals so many times and yet I can never say it enough for all the posts, texts, pics, videos that you have so willingly shared for all the Chromies that haven’t had the opportunities to be there at the track.” Amy Tremper

Your fans wrote your first book, How California Chrome Changed My Life. “I will read as my bedtime stories…and fondly remember the Greatest Horse of all time, and the most beloved!!” Eve Livingston.

You introduced us to Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky. When your foot was bruised in the summer of 2015, fans worried about your future. Then Taylor Made became one of your owners, and your future home. Frank Taylor says he loves you and feeds you cookies. “Thank You Taylor Made Farm!! I know that you love and will take the best possible care of our CHROME!!” Sigrid Olesniewicz.

On Jan. 28, in the world’s richest race, the $12-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, you will enter the starting gate for the last time. Your task appears insurmountable to some. From the far outside starting gate, you must get within striking distance of Arrogate, your conquerer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, now with the advantage of starting on the rail.

Win or lose, tears around the world are sure to fall, for this is your goodbye. Tears, too, of gratitude. For it’s a rare athlete great and honorable enough to deserve tears of farewell. “THANK YOU TO OUR ONCE IN A LIFETIME HORSE & HIS ENTIRE CHROME LLC TEAM FOR SHARING THIS AMAZING RIDE WITH ALL OF US!.” Chromes Home Facebook Page

California Chrome before the 2016 Pacific Classic (from left) exercise rider Dihigi Gladney, groom and faithful companion Raul Rodriguez, assistant trainer (and son of trainer Art Sherman) Alan Sherman

The Pegasus World Cup Invitational will be broadcast on NBC 4:30–6 p.m. Saturday, January 28

Author, investigative reporter (at Newsday and U.S. News & World Report). Finalist Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Award. www.pennyloebwordsandphotos.com