Glowing like a fresh penny under the Kentucky sky, 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome stepped into Taylor Made Farms’ show ring to greet his fans. When flashbulbs clicked he turned his head, ears up, to face the cameras. “Here’s the star of our show!” Duncan Taylor announced, and this horse knew it.
The horse’s appearance was part of Taylor Made Farms’ “Fan Days for California Chrome.” Some horse enthusiasts say a racehorse has not had such a following since Secretariat. Chrome took the 2014 Kentucky Derby in 1-¾ lengths, the 2014 Preakness in 1-1/4, but lost the Belmont Stakes; possibly due to an injury acquired out of the starting gate (discovered after the race). Despite not taking the Triple Crown, Chrome was dubbed “The People’s Horse.” Race fans have a new hero, and new fans have appeared in the sport.
In July 2015 Taylor Made Farms purchased a 30% interest in Chrome. Their plan, says CEO and President of Taylor Made Duncan Taylor, is to race Chrome in 2016, then stand him at stud in 2017. The farm created “Fan Days for California Chrome” for fans to tour Taylor Made Farms, meet the executives of the exclusive stable, and – of course – meet Chrome. There were plenty of photo opportunities. Chrome watched the fans and the event with intelligent eyes and a calm demeanor. There were two showings of Chrome per day, hayride farm tours, and meet and greets with farm employees and the Taylor brothers. The idea, explains Duncan Taylor, was to build a closer relationship between racehorse stables and the fans that support them. “We just want to share (Chrome) with people and let them be able to enjoy the horse.”
Taylor Made Farms is family owned and family operated, as the Taylor brothers were raised in the horse business. “We did everything from repairing fences to prepare yearlings for the sales,” Duncan explained to the crowd. Father Joe “Daddy Joe” Duncan ensured his children understood the value of hard work and an honest day’s job. The Taylor brothers have owned the farm since 1986. Taylor Made Vice President Ben Taylor greeted arriving fans with a friendly smile and handshake. “Feel free to tour the barns,” he encouraged. “Chrome is down there,” he pointed to the stalls in the barns, smaller barns housing two horses each. “After the tour, tell us what we could do to make it better, or what you really liked, if you think of something. We’re always open to suggestions.”
Fans had their pictures made with the tall, chestnut stallion as a friendly groom held the lead rope. Through it all, California Chrome remained calm, occasionally biting at the lead rope in play. The horse is more stunning than television and pictures can show. As the grooms prepared him for his slow, graceful walk to the circle for formal introductions, Chrome perked his ears at the crowd as if to say, “Hmm, a good crowd.” When his barn mate Graydar was being shown to fans, Chrome stuck his head out of the open stall door to watch with curiosity.
Marianne Malczewski drove eight hours from New York to attend the event. “I’ve followed California Chrome since the Kentucky Derby,” she says. “His story is truly a rags-to-riches story. I even know what his favorite cookies are!” Chrome loves Mrs. Pasture’s horse cookies, so Malczewski sent him a 15-pound container of the treats. Was seeing Chrome in real life worth the long drive? “Yes!” Then she giggles. “I got to kiss him twice on the nose.”
Chrome stands about 17 hands (four inches per hand, measured from withers to hooves). Four white socks and the white blaze on his face earned him the name “Chrome.” The horse was bred in California and has an impressive pedigree that includes Pulpit, Seattle Slew, Northern Dancer, and Secretariat. With a bevy of fans, handsome with his calm demeanor, and a champion pedigree, no wonder California Chrome has a following … and loves it.
Learn more about Taylor Made HERE
Learn more about California Chrome HERE