NEW YORK – California Chrome’s bid for the Triple Crown on Saturday is likely to boost TV ratings and, if he wins, create a star for a sport that could badly use one.
It will be a bonanza for the horse’s owners, although their payoff will be limited by Chrome’s humble parents and the racing industry’s delicate health.
Racing insiders say that if California Chrome becomes the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years, his breeding value is likely to be between $15 million and $20 million. That’s a stunning return for owners who paid $8,000 for the horse’s mare and another $2,500 to breed her to a stallion with a mediocre racing record.
The horse could bring in millions more in sponsorships and book and movie deals. Shoe company Skechers just announced it will put its brand on California Chrome caps, clothes and horse blankets.
Terence Collier, the director of marketing at Thoroughbred auction house Fasig-Tipton, said most people he talks to value Chrome at $15 million to $20 million if he wins Saturday.
A website operated for Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, sells about 150 items ranging from bobbleheads to photographs signed by his jockey. A nail that held the horse’s shoes in the Belmont sold for $6,100.
Leonard Lusky, who handles marketing of the horse, thinks Chrome would have opportunities that didn’t exist for Secretariat and could top $1 million in merchandise sales. “With social media, Facebook, Twitter, you can reach beyond the core fan. It will be a frenzy,” he said.