The Price of ‘Chrome’: A Triple Crown Winner’s Worth?

by | 06.02.2014 | 3:49pm

As the racing world anxiously awaits California Chrome's bid for history in the Belmont Stakes, stallion farms are punching calculators to figure out what a Triple Crown winner might be worth to their operation.

Or maybe they aren't. Popularity on the racetrack hasn't always led to appeal in the breeding shed. While his humble beginnings make for a great story, Chrome's connections may have their work cut out convincing doubters about his value as a sire.

But critics of other Triple Crown contenders have eaten many words over the years.

The Paulick Report's Scott Jagow leads us through the decisions and pitfalls of valuing “Chrome.”

  • Bellwether

    All of this is putting the Cart before Horse and is boring…Please let us enjoy the ride this Beautiful Horse is taking us on…ty…

    • Laurie Herself


      • MyBigRed

        And ALL the People said, “AMEN” !!

    • yes master

      It certainly is a fun ride for all of us, and agree let’s enjoy it.

    • Judith lynch

      Might it be that the owners are not counting the price, they simply love the horse and are having great fun watching him,they probably never thought of anything more than a few allowance races and then a happy retirement, So far they are enjoying themselves who would ever dream CC would turn out to be a wonder horse , let them have their moment of dreams.. And forget the cost of everything, sometimes dreams are more important than making profits .!!!

      • nu-fan

        Yes!!!! Agree with everything you said. Regardless of how the race unfolds, hasn’t California Chrome and his connections made this year so memorable? I hope he wins and believe that he will but, if something unforeseen occurs, this horse is the best of the 3-year-olds in my opinion. He’s a winner and so are his connections.

  • equine avenger

    Although I will be rooting for him on Saturday, I would be willing to bet that he is just a freak of nature for his crop and doesn’t throw much as a sire.

    • Tulsa Terry

      Disagree, his breeding lines are very similar to Tapit.

      • Barbara Bowen

        And we might want to keep in mind that no one picked Tapit or War Front as the heirs to the top of the heap, either.

        • Kris

          You are so right, Barbara. Who would have thought that the male line of Man O’ War would descend through War Relic; definitely one of his lesser sons on the track.

        • Larry Ensor

          Nor Danzig who only ran a few times before getting hurt and being retired. Even though he was by Northern Dancer he was IMO from of a very moderate family at best. Becoming a sire of sires and his son Danehill also.

          • Jay

            Nor Alibhai.

          • Tinky

            Larry –

            Being by arguably the most important sire of the past half-century versus being by an obscure son of Pulpit is a rather important distinction, don’t you think?

          • Larry Ensor


            Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

            Though I was going to point out that, Tapit, War Front and Danzig are/were by direct blood. But when I copied and pasted I didn’t see that my complete comment was not there before hitting the button.

          • Barbara Bowen

            Bold Reasoning would demur.

          • Tinky

            Apparently you don’t understand how probabilities relate to breeding.

          • Ruffian31

            Apparently neither due blue blood breeders since NONE of those have gone to win 2/3s of the classics since 1979. NOT ONE of the Derby/Preakness winners, Derby/Belmont winners or Preakness/Belmont winners since 1979 have been blue bloods. So as far as I’m concerned, the big breeders don’t have two shakes to stand on and still haven’t figured that out.

          • Tinky

            Yet another misunderstanding. The reason that there have been so many modestly bred winners of Triple Crown races over the past 25 years or so is because American breeders are not breeding 10-12f. horses.

            In England and Ireland, the better bred horses dominate the Classics because they are bred to stay.

          • Ruffian31

            It’s not a misunderstanding in any fashion when what IS running and winning is NOT blue in any sort of fashion. Of course American horses aren’t bred to stay anymore, everyone is after the latest and greatest and they more often than not turn into the pitfalls of the industry. They industry has no one to blame but themselves.

          • Tinky

            Amazing that I spelled out the salient point, and you still don’t get it.

          • Stuart H.

            Would you consider Commissioner a horse bred to go 10-12 furlongs, and why are the few here that are bred to go long generally lacking in the speed and turn of foot on dirt that those from the past generations displayed? For instance, some are saying Commissioner may be bred the best to go 12f, but he is basically a slow plodder who may get better as the distances get longer. But he is not your grandfather’s 10 furlong horse like a Damascus or Buckpasser. Too slow…Is it because so few stayers are bred that the chances of having stamina AND speed are very low?

          • Tinky

            He is bred more for 9-10f. Touch Gold, while a Belmont winner himself, was no stamina influence, Lear Fan was a miler influence and Dr. Blum a sprinter/miler influence.

            He is, however, the most stoutly bred of any horse in the Belmont.

          • Stuart H.

            Yes, thanks. I went back and looked at the pedigree. It is basically classic over miler with some other influences.

          • Barbara Bowen

            Hmm. I’d like to think you are an expert Tinky. But somehow I’m feeling safe to assume your armchair is quite cushy.

    • Terri Z

      Perhaps you should look up two 5 cross pedigrees to see the real pedigree background on California Chrome: Numbered Account and California Chrome. Chrome’s dam, Love the Chase, has the real class, with Numbered Account in both her father’s and mother’s family. Through having Numbered Account X2, CC has the great Buckpasser X 2, Tom Fool X 2, Swaps X 2, and War Admiral X 4. Add to the mix La Troienne and you have a top class pedigree. The reason that Chrome’s parents didn’t run well was due to respiratory problems and not their pedigree. He has 3 Triple Crown winners in his bloodline.

  • Barbara Bowen

    I don’t think these guys will get greedy. They will do what’s right for the horse and I wouldn’t put it past them to hang into most of him and only part with a percentage to a major farm that can stand him for them and support him with good mares. I hope they keep him on the track if he stays sound. His endorsement deals are worth a penny while he is racing, too.

  • Michael Castellano

    Clearly, the breeding experts are not so smart. Whether you say if or dance around the issue, the thoroughbred breed is in deep trouble and the industry has been powerless to do anything about it. They are at the mercy of chasing the highest breeding prices, and this short term approach has compromised the health, fitness, and stamina of the breed. The wild use of so called “medications”, including the universal use of Lasix, has further muddied the waters. As long as they only value pure speed, race two year olds, let drugs rule the trade, and reward no other traits in some concrete fashion, we will have the industry dominated by “cripples” who can only on average race ten times.

  • Am I wrong or didn’t Seattle Slew come from ‘humble beginnings” CC is the soundes horse of his crop, he has more races than most of the field put together.

    • Larry Ensor

      I wouldn’t exactly say humble. He did cost in today’s dollars around $80,000 as a yearling. I doubt if CC would have brought more the a few thousand as a yearling.

    • Kingturf

      The Slew crew was fun until he started losing and went public blaming Billy Turner and Jean Cruguet for getting smashed by J.O. Tobin in the Swaps stakes. At the end of the day the Slew crew fought for Jockey change after Slew lost to Dr. Patches and of course Mickey Taylor remarks to the Wolfson’s through the media a year later that all Affirmed will see is Slew’s big Black -ss when they raced in the Marlboro Cup. Secretariat and Affirmed was beloved….Slew was moderately bred and I remember how people was starting to get annoyed from that bunch later in his career.

  • Needles

    I respect Ric Waldman, but $30,000 is preposterous. Has he lost his mind?

    • Barbara Bowen

      It might be low depending on how impressively he wins, if he wins the Belmont, and how he does going forward – does he continue the form and improve, beat older in fall? Otherwise, it is close to right in terms of getting best possible mares in that fee range. Breeders don’t often risk much with their best mares and go to proven studs or young fast stallions with big pedigree for same price (i.e. a Bodemeister…)

      But there is the power of the rare accomplishment and someone with the means wanting a large piece of that Crown that could drive the price up.

      • Needles

        That mindset of breeders is why there about 8 horses left in the United States who can actually finish the last 8th of a mile in a 10 furlong race.

  • jttf

    sunday silence is the heart and soul of japan racing. then you have silver charm, charismatic, and i’ll have another. these four sires in japan, all won the derby and preakness and were based in california. better figure the stud fees in yen amounts for california chrome.

  • Dan Jividen

    In today’s market Ric Waldman’s $9 million estimate is probably closer to the mark than Steve Coburn’s $30 million estimate.

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