Capitol salutes California Chrome

California Chrome didn’t make it to Sacramento, but that didn’t stop his state Capitol celebration.

Both the state Senate and Assembly unanimously approved a resolution Thursday saluting the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner along with his human connections and the state’s racing industry. It’s believed to be the first time the California Legislature passed such a resolution for a race horse.

Carrying their Derby and Preakness trophies, co-owners and breeders Perry and Denise Martin of Yuba City and Steve and Carolyn Coburn of Topaz Lake, Nev., received a heroes’ welcome at the state house. It was the first time any of them had seen the Capitol chambers.

“(The legislators) said, ‘Can you bring the horse?’ We don’t think so,” said Steve Coburn, adding that they brought the gold and silver hardware instead.

Positively giddy, dozens of legislators lined up for photos with the Chrome crew and trophies. Many of them were dressed in purple and green to match the Dumb Ass Partners’ racing colors or wore California Chrome campaign buttons.

“I’m a Chromie through and through,” said Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, among nine authors of the Senate resolution. “California Chrome was born and bred in my district (Harris Farms in Coalinga). I’m very proud of him.”

Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, led off the parade of legislators who saluted the star colt, the first California-bred to win the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. Stabled at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, California Chrome resides in Correa’s Orange County district, he noted.

“But he’s not old enough to vote,” quipped Perry Martin of his 3-year-old horse.

“Everybody loves an underdog story,” Correa said. “California Chrome came out of nowhere to become a force in thoroughbred racing.”

Thursday’s tribute was not just about California Chrome but the state’s $2.5 billion racing industry, said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles. “He’s another reason why we cannot let horse racing die in California. ... It’s another reminder that California has top talent around the world and we should not forget our history or our future in horse racing.”

In the 80-member Assembly, 72 legislators added themselves as co-authors before the unanimous approval of the concurrent resolution, introduced by Dan Logue, R-Marysville, Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, and Henry Perea, D-Fresno. Although not officially recorded in the voice vote, there was one anonymous “neigh” as someone did his best imitation of horse-speak.

The Martins and Coburns said they were honored by the resolution, part of a summer-long salute. The Coburns earlier received a certificate of appreciation from the Nevada governor’s office. On Tuesday, the Martins are scheduled to receive the key to the city in their hometown of Yuba City.

After the ceremony, Chrome’s owners delivered the trophies to the California State Museum to be part of a California Chrome display, scheduled to open in November. That coincides with the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, the next major goal for Chrome. Fully recovered from a hoof injury suffered in the Belmont Stakes on June 7, the colt is expected to have a prep race in September.

“People just love the horse,” Carolyn Coburn said. “Everybody is so proud of what he’s done.”