He won six straight races from December 2013 to May 2014, including the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and while California Chrome won only once in four races in the second half of the year, Eclipse Award voters found his campaign worthy of Thoroughbred racing’s highest honor, giving him the Eclipse Award for 2014 Horse of the Year.
At a ceremony at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, California Chrome was also voted 3-year-old champion. Neither honor was considered a lock, given the horse’s races late-season losses, particularly in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in November. That race was won by Bayern, who defeated California Chrome in two of three head-to-head matches this year.
California Chrome received 193 votes to Bayern’s 56. A third finalist, Shared Belief, received 15. Injured during the Triple Crown season, Shared Belief has lost only once in nine lifetime races. That loss came in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, when his performance was compromised at the start by Bayern’s veering left sharply out of the starting gate.
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Photo: California Chrome and Victor Espinoza win the Preakness. Photo Maryland Jockey Club/Jim McCue