JC / Railbird

Perry Martin’s HOTY Speech

Perry Martin, co-owner of California Chrome, took the podium to accept the 2016 Horse of the Year award at the Eclipse Awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park on January 21, 2017. His speech is transcribed below.

We only have a few of our group up here tonight, so it’s not quite as bad as our winner’s circle pictures.

We won the older horse of the year award earlier tonight and everybody told me I did a wonderful job, so I’d just like to say, “Ditto.”

Also, when I rented this tux, I looked in the pocket, and there was this little packet of stuff in there, and it had three lines of writing on it, and the first line said, “Desiccant.”

Guy over here doesn’t know what that is.

Excuse me, sir, do you do the Beyer numbers for the Daily Racing Form?

Let me help you, the second line says silica gel. Still no clue? Now I know what the third line was for.

The third line said, “Do not eat.”

So now we know why that third line was on there. I was thinking, you know, I know babies like to put stuff in their mouths, but babies don’t know how to read, so it would be ridiculous to put that on there for them, so we know, I knew there was some segment, some segment of the population that needed that on there, and now I know it’s turf writers.

Turf writers are great. I learn a lot about myself reading the articles about me. I read at least three articles that said I had a dry sense of humor, and that’s why I had to go with a desiccant joke.

Turf writers really care about me. I can tell they care about me because they’re always asking me how I feel.

“Perry, how does it feel to win the Kentucky Derby?”


“Perry, how does it feel to lose the Pennsylvania Derby?”


“Perry, how does it feel to win the Dubai World Cup?”


“Perry, how does it feel to lose the Breeders’ Cup Classic?”

“Which one?”

“You pick.”


Does anybody see a pattern developing? Before I go too far — I actually have, since — you said we had a lot of time, right? — turf writers, at least three articles I read recently said that Denise and I live in Yuba City, California.

We haven’t lived in Yuba City, California since September of 2014. We moved to the beautiful, picturesque town of Alpine, Wyoming. Every morning I get up, have a coffee, look out my kitchen window, and the elk just look at me. It’s a lovely place.

But Yuba City is a special place. People ask me why we left Yuba City. Basically, the answer is, because we could.

Let me tell you about Yuba City. In 2014, Denise, me, my son Perry, Jr., and my daughter Kelly, who’s up here, we took the train to Churchill Downs, to the Kentucky Derby. People say, “Why did you take the train?”

What I do is failure analysis for the Air Force, I did a lot of crash investigation, and every night at the dinner table, I’d tell the family stories about what goes wrong with planes. So for some reason, my son won’t fly. I don’t know why that is.

So we took the train. And we were on the train — it’s an interesting story — one of our coworkers texted us a message saying you have to go to this link, there’s a story about you that the local news did.

The local news — we lived in Yuba City at the time — the local news stations were in Sacramento, California, and a lot of people in Yuba City don’t breed and own Kentucky Derby winners, or favorites for the Kentucky Derby. I don’t know why that is. But this was a unique thing, so they sent a camera crew out.

We were on our way to the Derby, on the train, and we watched this video. And here’s a reporter standing in front of our house, interviewing our neighbor.

And first thing I did was look at Denise and said, “I knew I should have mowed the lawn. I knew it.”

But the next thing I said was, you know, “They don’t seem to be able to separate us from mass murderers. Because that’s what they do for mass murderers, they send reporters to their house and they interview their neighbors. Well, people who have the favorites for the Kentucky Derby are treated the same way.”

So they rounded up our neighbor. She came out, and a reporter said, “How does it feel to live next door to the owners of the favorite for the Kentucky Derby?”

And she said, “The city of Yuba City animal control just cited me for having chickens in my backyard. If I can’t have chickens in my backyard, why can these people have a horse? That’s what I want to know.”

[Music begins playing.]

Chrome never lived in our backyard. He was at Harris Farms the whole time.

But that wasn’t enough for the camera crew. They went on their phones and they found a local hot spot, it was the Happy Viking bar. And they took the crew to the Happy Viking and interviewed everybody on the bar.

Is that music for me to get off?