Steve Coburn never had a birthday celebration like he did Saturday.
He and his Lamont-raised wife, Carolyn, are on top of the horse racing world after their colt California Chrome's win in the 140th Kentucky Derby.
"This is just a dream come true and a great birthday present," said Coburn, a former Bakersfield resident who turned 61 on Saturday.
The Coburns, who have many relatives living in the Bakersfield area, got into the horse racing business in 2008 while looking for a tax break, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The Coburns joined Perry and Denise Martin from Yuba City in the Sacramento area to purchase a filly named Love the Chase for $8,000. They bred her with a 10-year-old stallion named Lucky Pulpit. The stud fee was $2,000. The resulting foal was California Chrome.
"He's like a dream come true," Coburn told the Gazette-Journal. "Some people go all their life trying to find a horse that can make it to the Kentucky Derby and we did it with our first horse. Living in Nevada, an odds-making state, I don't know what the odds are of that happening, maybe one in a trillion?"
At 18 months old, California Chrome began working out at Harris Ranch near Coalinga.
"He stood out from all the other colts," Coburn said. "Once he started, his trainer, Per Antonsen, told me, 'I don't say this often, but if you put this horse in the right place, you're going to have a fun ride."
Saturday was California Chrome's first race outside California and he was a 5-2 betting favorite. It was his fifth straight win and he became the first California-bred horse to win the Derby since 1962.
California Chrome will now try to become throughbred horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 won the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.