All six of these equine athletes have remarkable stories. Few horses last long enough on the track to even start in the same race three or four times, but Ben's Cat has won the Mister Diz Stakes four times and Game On Dude has three renewals of the Santa Anita Handicap (USA-G1) to his credit. Shared Belief and Untapable both turned in terrific 2014 campaigns with only one loss each. Wise Dan was even better, going unbeaten in 2014 despite coming back from colic surgery.
Nonetheless, it was California Chrome who took the limelight and captured the nation's imagination this year. Although his owners have tarnished their image since the Belmont, the horse's story remains compelling. The son of an $8,000 mare and a stallion who stood for $2,500 in the year of his conception wrote a plot line for himself that Hollywood wouldn't buy if it were submitted as fiction: horse out of nowhere, novice owner-breeders and a small-time trainer team up to win the Kentucky Derby. Chrome's accomplishments drew in fans and gave hope to dreamers everywhere in the Thoroughbred industry, and for that he deserves this year's Vox Populi Award.