It was nearly a year ago when Steve and Carolyn Coburn met their friends Perry and Denise Martin at a diner in Galt, Calif., for lunch when they discussed what they should name their chestnut-colored colt before they sent him off to training.
"We were sitting around the table, each of us wrote down a name on a piece of paper and we put them in my hat," said Steve Coburn, pointing to his white cowboy hat. "And then we called the waitress over and asked her to pull out the names -- she actually had to stand on a chair because I was holding the hat up so high."
The waitress pulled them out in order and at the top of the list -- California Chrome, which was Steve Coburn's choice.
"I've always called the horse junior and he knows my voice, he'll actually respond to that," he said. "But when I wrote down my choice, I was thinking of his white markings, which many people refer to as chrome. And that's how California Chrome got his name."
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What were the other possibilities?
"Lucky at Love, Big Chapter and Sea Bisquick,," Steve Coburn laughed. "Thank goodness we got California Chrome because Sea Bisquick would be a mouthful coming down the lane."
Here are how each of the other horses running in the 140th Kentucky Derby got their names:
Vicar's in Trouble: Sired by Into Mischief and mare is Vibrant, but she is a daughter of the stallion Vicar.
Dance With Fate: Sire is Two Step Salsa and his mare is Flirting With Fate.
Wicked Strong: Centennial Farms, headquartered in Beverly, Mass., applied for the name Boston Strong for the eventual Wood winner as a tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims. That name, however, was already taken by another New England-based syndicate. Wicked Strong was Plan B, with wicked being a commonly used coastal New England term meaning extremely or incredibly.
Samraat: He was sired by Noble Causeway and foaled by Little Indian Girl and his name in Indian means "emperor."
Danza: Named after Who's the Boss star from the 1980s, Tony Danza. The name also honors Danza's sire, Street Boss, and embraces the toughness of Tony Danza, who in addition to acting has won nine matches as a professional boxer and attended college on a wrestling scholarship.
Ride on Curlin: Sired by Preakness winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, and is out of a daughter of Grade 1 winner Victory Ride.
Intense Holiday: Sire is Harlan's Holiday out of the Unbridled's Song mare Intensify.
Wildcat Red: He got his name from his sire, D'wildcat, and also because an owner thought his coat looked red as a youngster. Trainer Jose Garoffalo said the name happens to be a nice, neutral combination of the sports teams of Kentucky's two biggest universities. "We need to keep everybody happy," he said. "He's still a Wildcat, and he's still red like a Cardinal. We're very democratic."
We Miss Artie: The horse's sire is Artie Schiller, but he is also named for owner Sarah Ramsey's cousin's husband Artie, who recently died.
Chitu: The horse's owner, Susan Chu, named him after one of the most famous racehorses in China, according to trainer Bob Baffert.
Tapiture: Sire is Tapit.
General A Rod: Named after his former owner, Armando Rodriguez of Venezuela. Rodriguez sold the horse Monday to Starlight Racing and Skychai Racing.
Medal Count: Owner B. Wayne Hughes is a graduate and big supporter of the University of Southern California. USC has a reputation and long tradition of nurturing Olympic athletes, so Hughes named the horse as a tribute to all of the medals won by USC Olympians.
Candy Boy: Sire is Candy Ride.
Vinceremos: Named for the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center near Wellington, Fla. The colt is owned by WinStar Farm, which is donating a portion of the colt's earnings from every race throughout the 2014 Triple Crown trail to the non-profit organization. Vinceremos also means "to overcome" in Latin.
Harry's Holiday: Son of Harlan's Holiday.
Commanding Curve: Sire is Master Command. Jeff Lifson, head of the Midwest Division for West Point Thoroughbreds, said the horse's name doesn't really have anything to do with baseball, even though his client is a Texas businessman that is a lifelong fan of baseball.
Uncle Sigh: Named for Uncle Si Robertson, left, on A&E's popular Duck Dynasty show. Owner Chip McEwen said the spelling difference is because "I didn't want to have to go through all the procedures you do using someone's name."
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 582-4232 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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