California Chrome Wins Award for Winning America’s Heart

He didn’t win the Triple Crown, but he will be recognized by Secretariat owner Penny Chenery.

Photo via Bill Brine/Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Bill Brine/CC

On January 10, 2015,  California Chrome will be honored with the fifth-annual Secretariat Vox Populi award, which recognizes “the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.”

In case you were living under a rock this spring, California Chrome’s underdog story captivated millions–here was a horse of modest pedigree owned by a syndicate called Dumb Ass Partners–his dam was bought for $8000 and bred to a no-name stallion for $2500. (Check out his full backstory here.) On paper, it shouldn’t have worked, but judging by his Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins, apparently no one told California Chrome that.

The story of California Chrome exploded on social media, from frenzied conversations on Twitter and Facebook to GoPro videos of what it’s like to ride him.

Poems and artwork have been dedicated to this horse. He even took on a rogue opossum and won.

But in the homestretch of the Belmont Stakes, Tonalist took the lead and DAP’s Triple Crown dreams were dashed.

But rather than remembering California Chrome as the horse who almost won the Triple Crown (and whose owners were rather bad sports about the loss initially), why not remember all he did to ignite the world’s hopes and dreams for horse racing?

That’s what the Vox Populi award is all about–recognizing horses who may not be recognized in the winner’s circle, but who nevertheless made an important contribution. The winner is chosen by committee and by the award’s founder, Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, who will also present the award.

“Everyone loves a Cinderella story, and this one was no exception,” said Chenery. “California Chrome, a proven champion and formidable competitor, reminded us that it doesn’t matter from whence we came but rather how we dance when we get to the ball. Furthermore, his inspiring story and engaging popularity reached beyond the racetrack stands and into the conversation of a nation. I am looking forward to seeing California Chrome build upon his success during his 4-year-old season.”

Past winners of the Vox Populi award include Mucho Macho Man (2013), Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011) and Zenyatta (inaugural 2010).


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