‘Checkmate Partners’: Chrome Owner Martin Calls Out Del Mar
Perry Martin, a co-owner of dual classic winner California Chrome, posted a press release on Saturday regarding their refusal to ship California Chrome to Del Mar for an appearance on Pacific Classic day.
The refusal came after the partners asked $50,000 from Del Mar for the colt to appear and that request was turned down by the track. In this release, Martin said that Del Mar “let slip” details of private conversations between the owners and the track to the media.
Martin went on to give an explanation on why they would not send California Chrome to the track for no compensation.
Read Martin's full release below:
The chess game began a little over three weeks ago. Del Mar PR let it slip “accidently” that there was a chance California Chrome might appear at Del Mar on sPacific Classic Day (I forget is Del Mar the Spa or Saratoga?). Well, “let slip” might not be quite right, they called the Media persons they have in their pocket to get the news out. (Does not take much to have these local media types in their pocket. They invite to a race day, slap them on the back saying they are honored to have them there. Escort them to an “Exclusive Track Venue” and wink to the bartender. “Joe, Mr/Ms XXX's drinks are on Del Mar”) The opening gambit did not work well. Sure the local pocket media went with it but very few secondary outlets picked it up. Most ran stories of Chrome's vacation at Harris Ranch. Next, the middle game.
After a few days when it was clear that they had not really created the buzz they were looking for, Del Mar PR called Chrome's trainer Art Sherman. Art is an amiable guy and when they told him they wanted to honor “Team Chrome” on sPacific Classic Day he said the right thing, “That sounds good but you'll have to check with the owners.” That phone conversation somehow (?) got to the local pocket media and they ran with it. Del Mar in conversations with “Team Chrome” for appearance at Del Mar on sPacific Classic Day. This did get picked up by a few secondary outlets and made local Chromies happy they may have a chance to cheer on Chrome locally.
The phone call I was waiting for from Del Mar PR finally came while I was at work at Martin Testing Labs. The voice on the other end of the line said Del Mar wanted to honor Chrome and Team Chrome on sPacific Classic Day. I was supposed to be honored to pay a van driver to drive Chrome to and from Del Mar. Honored to travel 500 miles, put my wife and I up in a hotel then sit under a tent in the hot sun to sign autographs for an hour or two. Honored to pay for an insurance rider to cover the horse in case injured in the performance of non-racing activities. Honored to pay the horse's handlers (groom, exercise rider and hot walker) to work during their usual time off. Let me make this clear, there was no offer from Del Mar to cover any expenses. I was quiet and listened hard for some time and nothing was forthcoming. I then said, “I can see how Del Mar will benefit from Chrome appearing. He is very popular and people will come out to see him. How do we benefit?” The voice on the other end of the line sounded quite surprised, “You mean a financial agreement?” I said, “Is there any other kind?” The voice, “Well Del Mar is a not for profit and turns over all monies to the State. We don't usually have money for appearance fees. I'd have to discuss this with management. What would you want?” I asked for and received his e-mail address, I told h im I would discuss with my partner Steve and e-mail him. Steve and I knew that what was best for the horse was staying home and concentrating on his return to racing. The fans are important to us but the horse will be racing just a few weeks later not very far away. The only real benefit here is to Del Mar to spike attendance that was clear, at least to these Dumb-Asses. I e-mailed our requirements in detail, none of the detail was picked up by the local pocket media. $10,000 for expenses (Vanning, insurance, travel & per diem). A little high yes but not much and I was not going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it got us to a nice round number. $20,000 to the owners ($10,000 each) and $20,000 to “Team Sherman”. $50,000 total. I wanted to make sure everyone on the team got an appearance fee, especially the so-called unappreciated ones like Raul and Willy. We appreciate them! Hey, I thought it was a good deal. Baffert got $50K for 45 minutes of autographs in New Jersey. I'm only worth $10K and I know it :)
Within an hour of sending the e-mail I started getting calls from the local pocket media. “Chrome wouldnot be appearing because of the greedy owners – DAP”. I wonder how they knew? Was Del Mar playing chess with the Dumb-Ass Partners? Will we be shamed into having our horse appear? Well, I've checked Chrome's schedule and he will not have time to appear at sPacific Classic Day and there is no race of interest to us at Del Mar until 2017 (Breeders Cup). I'm wondering if he'll be racing then. People take the Dumb-Ass Partner name way too serious. We may have to change it. How about Checkmate Partners?