Calling all Chromies! California Chrome owner shares ‘Our Story’ at Sacramento book event Saturday

With jockey Victor Espinoza aboard, California Chrome is swarmed in the Santa Anita winner’s circle after winning the 2016 San Pasqual Stakes, his triumphant return to racing after nine months off. Photo by Debbie Arrington

Horse owner/breeder Perry Martin to sign copies at Avid Reader event in Downtown

Perry and Denise Martin enjoyed the ride of a lifetime with the first racehorse they ever bred: California Chrome.

An international sensation, California Chrome won the 2014 Kentucky Derby and more than $14.7 million.  With humble beginnings, the flashy chestnut thoroughbred became the most famous racehorse since Secretariat. The Chromies – his legion of fans — flocked to his every start. 

Owners of a safety testing lab in Sacramento, the Martins suddenly were unlikely stars in the Sport of Kings. Chrome changed their lives.

Perry Martin recounts that journey – and adds lots of behind-the-scene detail – in his just-released book, “California Chrome Our Story” (McCarran Media, 252 pages). Martin will sign copies and chat with fans from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Avid Reader Books, 1945 Broadway, Sacramento. Admission is free.

Martin wrote this memoir after Denise’s sudden death in 2021. The couple had moved from Yuba City to Wyoming, where they intended to retire and concentrate on horses.

As reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views: “This compelling story is a beautifully written tale about a creature that changed the lives of everyone who came in contact with him; it is also a kind ‘goodbye’ to a woman who was a large part of California Chrome’s life. Readers will view the demeanor of a true champion in this book, along with the crew and family that brought him to greatness. So, if you wish to be part of a magical, unforgettable experience, ‘California Chrome Our Story’ is the book you need to read. 5-Stars!”

The Martins’ story spurred imagination as well as jealousy and many misconceptions. (“How did they get so lucky?”) Perry Martin’s wry sense of humor sometimes rubbed racing’s aristocracy the wrong way. (With co-breeder Steve Coburn, their stable name – DAP Racing – stood for Dumb Ass Partners.)

With the eye of an engineer, Martin applied his scientific approach to breeding and racing, and got incredible results. Chrome retired as the richest horse in North America.

Perry and Denise Martin enjoyed the ride of a lifetime as the owners and breeders of 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.  Courtesy photo.

Before his Sacramento visit, Martin gave us a preview:

Why did you decide to write this book?

“California Chrome Our Story” was a labor of lost love. My wife Denise and I had been talking about a book about California Chrome for some time to set the record straight about Chrome and detail what it was like to own a champion racehorse. When Denise died suddenly in June of 2021, there was a large hole in my life which I decided to fill by working on achieving the goals we had set for our “retirement.” The five-month effort to write “Our Story” really helped me heal emotionally.

There were a lot of misconceptions surrounding Team Chrome and your success. What is the main one you’d like to clear up?

As you say, there are a lot of misconceptions and I endeavor to address them all. As I designed his pedigree, my biggest peeve, is the use of the term “ill-bred” regarding Chrome. Chrome was bred very similar to another great champion, (1977 Triple Crown winner) Seattle Slew. Chrome’s sire, Lucky Pulpit, may have been out of fashion, but it is ignorant to use the term “ill-bred.”

While writing the book, what surprised you as you relived your experience?

The word “surprised” does not fit, but I was struck by our patience in dealing with the various people and circumstances that impeded Chrome’s career. I don’t think I could, or would, do the same things today.

What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

That Chrome’s owners tried as hard as he did.

Do you recommend horse ownership and horse breeding to others?

I recommend that everyone buy and read a copy of “California Chrome Our Story.” Then decide if you have the time to study and know horses, and the patience and wherewithal to persevere regardless of outcomes. Having a bunch of money would also help.

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