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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — True to his form this year, California Chrome made it look easy in the Kentucky Derby.

He became the first California-bred horse in 52 years to win the first leg of the Triple Crown, and he continued the fairytale story of his 77-old-year trainer and the small-time owners who bred him with a total investment of $10,000 – and recently turned down a $6 million offer to buy him.

California Chrome, who had won his four previous starts by a total of 24 ½ lengths, became the first California native to win the Derby since Decidedly in 1962. For the win, California Chrome earned $1,417,800 out of a total purse of $2,177,800.

MORE: Trainer waited 59 years for Derby

The 3-year-old took control down the stretch in the 140th Derby – before a crowd of 164,906 that was the second biggest turnout for the race -- and ran away from the other 18 horses in the field, winning by 1 3/4 lengths. Commanding Curve was second and Danza was third.

California Chrome paid $7, $5.60 and $4.20.

"I never felt in my dreams that I would win two Kentucky Derbies in my entire career. … It was an awesome feeling," said winning jockey Victor Espinoza, who rode War Emblem to a Derby win in 2002.

FTW: 3 reasons to be thrilled that California Chrome won

Winning trainer Art Sherman was a teenaged stable boy when he traveled here in a railroad car from California in 1955 to accompany Swaps, who won the Derby that year. Sherman went on to ride as a jockey for 23 years and became a trainer in 1980. He's got over 2,000 career wins, but this was his first trip back to the Derby.

"He gave me the biggest thrill I ever had in my life," said Sherman, who became the oldest trainer ever to win the Derby. Charlie Whittingham was 76 when he won it in 1989 with Sunday Silence.

Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome along with Perry Martin, said this week that it was a "done deal" their horse would win. He said he and his partner turned down a $6 million offer for 51 percent of their horse after he won the Santa Anita Derby in his previous race.

VIDEO: FAIRY TALE CONTINUES FOR OWNERS AND TRAINER

He became the first California-bred horse in 52 years to win the first leg of the Triple Crown, and he continued the fairy tale story of his 77-year-old trainer and the small-time owners who bred him with a total investment of $10,000. VPC

Coburn works for a Nevada firm that makes magnetic strips for credit cards and hotel keys. Martin and his wife own and operate a material testing company in Sacramento, Calif.

Coburn and Martin, who had previously owned small shares in race horses through a syndicate, paid $8,000 for a mare named Love the Chase and bred her for $2,000 with Lucky Pulpit.

Their offspring was California Chrome, who will now move on his bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Coburn, who wears a cowboy hat and a sports a walrus moustache, didn't mince words with his "done deal" comments going into the race.

There were questions about how California Chrome might come out of the starting gate and join the crowded field. But he had a clean start and backed up Coburn's words.

"All I can say is do you non-believers believe in this horse now?" said Coburn, who celebrated his 61st birthday on Saturday in a big way.

Dale Romans, trainer of eighth-place Medal Count, admitted he was among those who doubted California Chrome.

"I didn't think that California Chrome had any chance going into this race, and I was very, very wrong," said Romans. "Whether the crop's a good crop or not, that's a special horse. I was wrong. …. Now he has a new fan."

Sherman said his horse reminded him of Swaps. On that rail trip here 59 years ago, Sherman slept in a sleeping bag in the boxcar with that Derby winner. Yep, that railroad ride flashed through Sherman's mind during the race.

"I did," said Sherman. "When I went over to Swap's grave the other day (I) said a little prayer and it came true."

Swaps, also a California-bred horse, originally was buried at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky but his remains were later moved to the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.

"Art Sherman has come full circle," said Coburn.

PHOTOS: SATURDAY AT THE KENTUCKY DERBY

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Coburn hasn't specified who made the $6 million offer for controlling interest in California Chrome. But he said the potential new owners could have moved the horse out of California and switched trainers.

"It wasn't tough for us to say no," said Coburn. " … We knew within our souls what kind of horse we had because we've seen him grow up, we've seen him achieve these things. … He had all that heart, and we knew we had something special."

Coburn and his partner calls themselves DAP Racing. That stands for "Dumb Ass Partners."

"It's an incredible, incredible journey that we've been on," said Coburn. " … To see this baby the day after he was born … and I saw him three weeks prior to that in a dream, and this baby turned out exactly like my dream."

So what about the Preakness, then the Belmont and a possible Triple Crown.

"I said this horse would win the Kentucky Derby … and I said when this horse wins the Kentucky Derby I believe that this horse will win the Triple Crown," said Coburn.

Then he choked up.

"If I shed a tear just go with me, okay," he said. "This colt was born on my sister Brenda's birthday Feb. 18. She died of cancer at age 36. It will be 36 years this year since there's been a Triple Crown winner.

"And I tell people … I said this colt will go down in history … and when he wins the Triple Crown he will be the first California bred to ever win a Triple Crown."

Is this a life-changing event for Sherman?

"I don't think I changed my life. It puts something up for all my friends that aren't with me anymore, and I think they're watching over me right now and saying, 'Hey, we all wish you the best of luck, Art,' said Sherman.

He added, "I'm just the same old Art Sherman, you know, except … I won the Kentucky Derby."

Coburn said California Chrome has beaten the stigma of being a Californian by birth in a sport dominated by Kentucky-breds.

"I really don't think he cares," said Coburn. "Everybody else has been trying to tell him, the media, the sportswriter and so on. … They've never given this horse any credence. He's a California-bred. They don't do this, they don't do that. Well, guess what, he don't know he's a California-bred, and I don't care if he knows it or not. But he is who he is, and he's a great horse."

How did Sherman handle the doubters?

"Sometimes you don't get a lot of respect," said Sherman. " … Most of the Derby winners are bred here, very few outside of Kentucky. … I think they say, well, you didn't beat nobody (on the West Coast). … I just feel like, hey, let's go. I'm ready for the next race.''

Sherman was asked about that prayer he said when he visited Swaps' grave.

"I thought he was a super horse, Swaps, six world records at one time," said Sherman. "I said, 'Hey, let me have half your talent, put it into Chrome. I'll be the happiest guy in the world.' ''

Sherman's prayer was answered Saturday.

His response to Coburn saying California Chrome is on his way to the Triple Crown?

"I'm not saying anything now. He's got a dream," said Sherman. " … I think California Chrome is the rock star, and I'm his manager, and I'm going all the way."

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