A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Celebrity horse, California Chrome, enjoying R&R in the Bluegrass and will likely find his Kentucky home

California Chrome won the first to legs of the Triple Crown last year. (Photo by Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs)

California Chrome won the first two legs of the Triple Crown last year. (Photo by Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs)

By Liane Crossley
NKyTribune Correspondent

Central Kentucky is a pretty popular vacation destination, as well as a retirement spot – and not only for people. The easy living, beautiful pastures and good eats are just a few of the amenities that also attract Thoroughbreds to the Bluegrass whether for a temporary stay or for good.

Consider just some of the superstars that have chosen to call Central Kentucky home: American Pharoah, the Triple Crown hero that is scheduled to begin his breeding career sometime in the future at Ashford Stud in Versailles; War Emblem and Silver Charm, both of which won the first two Triple Crown jewels and have permanently retired to Old Friends in Georgetown after spending their stallion careers in Japan.

And now California Chrome, winner of the first two-thirds of the Triple Crown last year, has joined the list of rich and famous racers residing in the famed region that many consider the ultimate environment for horses. For now, California Chrome is vacationing in the Bluegrass while he awaits a possible return to the track before launching his second career as a stallion.

A little R&R

After more than a year as an international celebrity, California Chrome is relishing carefree days far from the spotlight. He is stabled in Nicholasville at Taylor Made Farm, which recently purchased a minority interest in the charismatic colt. While stud plans have not been announced, logic dictates that California Chrome will join Taylor Made’s stallion roster when his racing career concludes.

Last year, the flashy chestnut with generous white markings was crowned Horse of the Year after a productive season highlighted by his run for the Triple Crown. After winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, California Chrome was fourth in the Belmont Stakes, but he carried on. He closed the season with a victory in the Hollywood Derby after finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, both in his native California. Following a runner-up effort in the Golden State in February, he became a globetrotter.

California Chrome became a celebrity. (Photo by Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs)

California Chrome became a celebrity. (Photo by Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs)

California Chrome was shipped to the United Arab Emirates where he was second in the Dubai World Cup. He then went to England for the glamorous Royal Ascot races, but did not compete because of a minor injury. Repatriated to America, California Chrome’s connections set their sights on the Arlington Million in Chicago but, again, the plans were derailed by a nagging injury.

The superstar will need little more than some rest and relaxation to fully recover, according to his veterinarian. His treatment includes simply grazing on lush grass in a four-acre paddock. He generally is taken out early each morning for a few hours and then led back to his cool, fan-equipped stall during the hottest time of day. He goes out again in late afternoon for a few hours before going to the barn for the night.

Duncan Taylor, president of Taylor Made, said California Chrome made a smooth transition from action-packed track life to serene surroundings. He said the colt was a little anxious when he first stepped off the van into his new neighborhood but quickly adjusted to his relaxing routine.

Duncan Taylor

Duncan Taylor

“When he first got here, he was a little keyed up. Not much and it didn’t last for very long,” Taylor said. “He’s a very smart horse and not a high-strung horse. One of the things that makes him and American Pharoah run so well is that besides being talented and athletic, they have good minds. They don’t waste any energy. California Chrome is the same on the farm.”

Interestingly, Taylor and his team had first-hand experience with American Pharoah two years before he galloped to glory. The Triple Crown champion lived at Taylor Made for about eight months before shipping to Saratoga Springs, New York, for Fasig-Tipton Co.’s premiere yearling sale in 2013. Taylor recalled the bay colt was among the farm’s elite prospects. So elite that owner Ahmed Zayat wisely opted to buy him on his own behalf and place him in the Zayat racing division.

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The making of Taylor Made

Taylor Made is a relative newcomer in Kentucky’s revered for Thoroughbred history, founded in 1976 by a then-19-year-old Duncan Taylor, his younger brothers and another partner as a broodmare boarding operation on several Lexington-area properties. By 1978, the business expanded into selling horses at public auctions and eventually relocated to the present site in Jessamine County. The original 120-acre spread expanded to more than 1,500 acres that includes a stylish stallion complex where California Chrome is housed.

As sons of legendary horseman Joe Taylor, the Taylors naturally followed their father’s lead after honing both their equine and business skills under his tutelage anchored by a strong work ethic. Joe Taylor’s legacy includes transforming Gainesway Farm in northern Fayette County from a world-class Standardbred operation into an outfit known for decades of breed-shaping stallions. He also was an esteemed mentor who took great pride in shaping the next generations of horsemen.

Taylor Made Farm

Taylor Made Farm

Owned solely by the Taylor brothers since 1986, the business is one of the world’s leading Thoroughbred consignors. In addition to their selling and stallion divisions, the farm boards broodmares and raises their resulting foals.

Through the years, Taylor Made has been connected to a lengthy roster of quality Thoroughbreds with American Pharoah and California Chrome heading the list of recognizable names.

Taylor said his father, who died in 2003, obviously would have been proud of the farm’s success. But he speculated that he would have gained greater satisfaction that a new generation can appreciate California Chrome and American Pharoah.

In addition to his children and grandchildren who are now instrumental in the family business, many equine professionals spent their early years under Taylor’s guidance. He was a teacher to anyone dedicated to working and learning. To that end, Duncan Taylor said his father would be most pleased that American Pharoah won the Triple Crown for a generation of people too young to witness the feat.

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One Comment

  1. Ginger Flores says:

    This article was extremely well written.

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