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Horse Racing: California Chrome wins Kentucky Derby

California Chrome swept to victory in the 140th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, powering away in the closing stretch to win the first leg of US flat racing's Triple Crown.

LOUISVILLE: California Chrome swept to victory in the 140th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, powering away in the closing stretch to win the first leg of US flat racing's Triple Crown.

Jockey Victor Espinoza took the pre-race favorite past Uncle Sigh and Chitu at the top of the stretch and easily held off the rest of the 19-horse field for his fifth consecutive victory.

Commanding Curve, trained by Dallas Stewart and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, finished second in the $2 million, 1 1/4-mile Run for the Roses and Danza, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Joe Bravo, was third.

The victory made 77-year-old Art Sherman the oldest trainer to saddle a Kentucky Derby winner -- surpassing Charlie Whittingham, who conditioned a winner at the age of 76.

For Sherman, it was a triumphant return to the Kentucky Derby 59 years after he accompanied legendary 1955 winner Swaps to the race as a teenaged stable hand.

Sherman, who went on to a riding career before taking up training, hadn't been connected to a Kentucky Derby runner since.

"I tell you, he gave me the biggest thrill I ever had in my life," Sherman said.

"When I went over to Swaps' grave the other day, I said a little prayer, and it came true," he added.

California Chrome's owner, Steve Coburn, immediately said the chestnut colt with the splashy white markings would be pointed at the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

"We'll see you all in Maryland -- and then we'll see you all in New York," he said.

The second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, will be held at Pimlico in a fortnight. The series concludes with the 1 1/2-mile Belmont in New York on June 7.

The last horse to achieve the coveted treble was Affirmed in 1978.

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