Like many Chromies, I was quite upset regarding the news that our beloved Chrome had been sold to interests in Japan. I thought I'd join the band of fans paying tribute to this one-of-a-kind horse.
I am one of probably hundreds, if not thousands, whose interest in horse racing (and horses in general) was rekindled because of that beautiful chestnut colt who began his humble life quietly but grew into the mighty California Chrome.
I was late to the Chrome party as he was already a star on the track, so the beginning of my "Chrome Experience" was his run in the Kentucky Derby. I had not watched the Derby on TV since my childhood. I believe it was my wife that happened to be flipping channels and stumbled upon the NBC coverage of race day. The coverage of Chrome and his entire story sucked me in. I could relate to him and his background. Plus, I couldn't get over how stunning he looked. I have followed Chrome and racing ever since.
I liken Chrome to the Hot Wheels track set I received one Christmas from the local Toys for Tots program. It came when our family really needed a morale boost. I played with that track for a long time, helping me forget my reality.
Chrome came at the right time for me that first Saturday in May 2014, just like that track set. He was an escape from my life as I knew it, a light in my darkness, a joy amidst the pain.
Of all the great horses that have come and gone, to my knowledge, none have been compared to the great Secretariat and how he unified a nation like California Chrome. Both horses appeared to know their true importance and purpose and played their roles valiantly as super-crowds gathered to get a glimpse (and a photo) of such greatness; touching the heart and overwhelming the soul, bringing children and adults to tears with each appearance. His connections obviously recognized his gift and public draw and they benefited greatly. To them, he was a business opportunity, but through that opportunity, we were given great access to witness the king in majestic fashion. For that, I am thankful.
Will there be another horse that stirs up the nation like California Chrome? Yes, I have this feeling that at least one of his offspring will carry the full "Chrome Effect" to continue his legacy and his life’s purpose. I truly believe God created Chrome for more than racing and breeding and I believe that we have not seen the last of his greatness.
In the past, when I'd try to put into words what Chrome means to me, I was basically at a loss. In preparation for the inaugural Pegasus Cup, featuring our boy's final run before beginning stud duty, I attempted to put my thoughts about Chrome to music in my original song "California Chrome (Heart of a Champion)." In the song, I tried to capture the essence of how Chrome had captured the hearts of many. Watch the video of the song below.
Disappointingly, I was not able to see Chrome in person on the track or at Taylor Made. I had set a goal to partake in the Chrome Experience this next spring but I guess that won’t happen now. Because of this lovable horse, I have cyber-met so many wonderful fans and photographers. I am eternally grateful for all the conversations and photos of our People’s Horse to keep me inspired. I pray that we will continue to have access to Chrome’s journey through photos and videos.
Chrome may soon be gone from our soil, but the way he has inspired us, he will never be forgotten. No matter where he is, Chrome will always be home with me.
Please leave a comment about your journey with Chrome!
Justin Ehrman is a husband, father, author and singer/songwriter.