DAP Racing

Racing colors of DAP Racing

DAP Racing is a horse racing partnership between Perry Martin from Yuba City, California, and Steve Coburn of Topaz Lake, Nevada,[1] along with their spouses, Denise Martin and Carolyn Coburn.[2] DAP stands for "Dumb Ass Partners"—a tongue-in-cheek response to a passerby who questioned their wisdom in purchasing the partnership's first racehorse, the mare Love the Chase, who became the dam of 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome, her first foal.[2]

The Martins and the Coburns have in common a fondness for California Chrome,[3] but otherwise have very different personalities and backgrounds. As Carolyn Coburn explained, "We couldn't be more different. We met at the racetrack because of a horse. That's what's so great about this game. It brings people together."[4] The Martins seldom talk to the press,[5] but Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times described them as the "quiet thinkers," noting that Perry Martin planned the mating of Lucky Pulpit with Love the Chase, mapped out a "Road to the Derby" racing plan for the horse, and promoted use of a nasal strip for California Chrome's races. Hoppert characterized the more outgoing Coburns as the "public relations arm" of the partnership.[6]


The Martins are from Chicago. They met over a mutual interest in the novel Foundation by Isaac Asimov, and went to the harness races on their first date; Perry Martin had been going to horse races at Arlington Park since he was a teenager.[5] Today they own and operate Martin Testing Laboratories (MTL), a division of Materials Technology Laboratories, Inc.[7] that is located within McClellan Business Park at the former McClellan Air Force Base.[8] MTL tests items such as automobile airbags and medical equipment.[9] The company provides product assurance and reliability testing of new technologies and materials.[7][10]

"[We test products that are] ... the kind where somebody dies if something goes wrong".[9]"

—Perry Martin, on the high-reliability equipment tested by MTL

Perry Martin has an MBA,[11] a degree in applied physics from Michigan Technological University,[12] and an advanced degree in solid state physics from the University of Illinois-Chicago.[5] Denise Martin is MTL's senior chemist, managing the company's fatigue testing and thermal analytics.[3] They married in 1986 and celebrated their 28th anniversary on the weekend of the Preakness, thus missing seeing the race live.[13] They moved to California in 1987, where Perry Martin was employed as a metallurgist by the Air Force and Denise briefly job shadowed a racehorse trainer in the Sacramento area.[5] Perry Martin worked at the McClellan Air Force Base prior to its 2001 closure,[11] performing testing and analysis work, briefing both Congress and the Air Force Chief of Staff on his work with Air Force weapons systems.[14] He wrote the Electronic Failure Analysis Handbook, published by McGraw-Hill in 1999.[15]

A middle-aged man and woman standing in front of some silver trophies with other people in the background
Steve and Carolyn Coburn (center) at the trophy presentation for the 2014 Preakness Stakes

Steve Coburn, characterized by the media as the more "loquacious" of the two men,[16][17] describes himself and his wife as "just everyday people".[3][18] He grew up in central California and was familiar with horses. He worked herding cattle at a feedlot,[11] participated in rodeos, and worked at some ranching jobs.[19] He now works as a press operator for a company that makes magnetic strips.[20]Carolyn Coburn retired in March 2014 from a career working in payroll in the health care industry.[3] Carolyn introduced Steve to horse racing, and when he was looking for a tax write-off, she encouraged him to buy into a racing syndicate instead of purchasing a small airplane.[21][10]


Love the Chase

Love the Chase was purchased for $30,000 as a two-year-old by an agent for a horse ownership group called the Blinkers On Racing Stable.[11] Perry Martin had been a member of the racing syndicate since 2007. Steve Coburn joined the group when he bought a share of the filly in 2008.[11] Originally, the two couples each owned a five percent share in Love the Chase through their membership in Blinkers On Racing Stable.[2][22]

As a two- and three-year-old filly, Love the Chase had been very nervous and often panicked in the saddling paddock, in effect losing races before she ever got to the starting gate.[4] She ran six times and won on her fourth try in a maiden claiming race at Golden Gate Fields.[22] When Blinkers On Racing Stable decided to dissolve the Love the Chase syndicate, both the Coburns and the Martins wanted to buy the filly.[8] Instead, they decided to go into partnership; Perry Martin with a 70% share and as managing owner.[18] After Love the Chase won her only race in February 2009, Coburn and Martin became her official owners.[22] A casual observer, knowing Love the Chase's modest race record, remarked that only a "dumb ass" would buy her, so Coburn and Martin, on a handshake, named their racing operation DAP Racing— "Dumb Ass Partners".[20] They created a caricature of a buck-toothed donkey to adorn the back of their racing silks, chose purple and green, the favorite colors of Carolyn Coburn and Denise Martin, for their stable colors,[8] and put the initials "DAP" on California Chrome's blinker hood and the left front of the jockey's silks.[23]

"We just hope that this horse is letting America know that the little guy can win."

—Steve Coburn, co-owner, May 17, 2014, following the Preakness Stakes[24]

Martin and Coburn paid $8,000, raced Love the Chase two more times, then retired her in 2009.[11][22] Wives Denise Martin and Carolyn Coburn became closely involved with the partnership, though they do not appear as owners on official records kept by Equibase.[1][2] Martin and Coburn hoped Love the Chase would become a good broodmare,[2] as she had a promising pedigree. When she retired, they discovered that she had raced with a breathing problem—an entrapped epiglottis that restricted her air intake,[4] but could be corrected with surgery.[25] Martin researched pedigrees to determine the best stallion to match with Love the Chase.[6] Love the Chase failed to conceive in 2009 when bred to a stallion named Redattore, and did not go back to him for rebreeding because he had been sent to Brazil.[26] She was bred to Lucky Pulpit in 2010. CNN reported that the stud fee for the breeding was $2000.[27] Prior to the beginning of the 2014 breeding season, Lucky Pulpit had a published stud fee of $2,500,[28][lower-alpha 1]

California Chrome

Main article: California Chrome

California Chrome was foaled on February 18, 2011,[1] at Harris Farms near Coalinga, California, the horse breeding division of the Harris Ranch.[8] Steve Coburn said he had a dream not long before California Chrome's birth that the foal would be a colt with four white feet and a blaze.[30] California Chrome was relatively large for a newborn horse, weighing 137 pounds (62 kg), and active, described by Martin as "running circles around Momma" within two hours of birth.[31] As a foal, he was given the nickname "Junior" by the Martins[4] because of his resemblance to his sire, Lucky Pulpit.[32][33]

California Chrome at the 2014 Belmont Stakes

The Martins and Coburns chose California Chrome's official name in 2013 at Brewsters Bar & Grill in Galt, California, a town halfway between their two homes. Each of the four wrote a potential name on pieces of paper and asked a waitress to draw them out of Coburn's cowboy hat. They submitted the names to The Jockey Club ranked in the order drawn. California Chrome, Coburn's choice, was first drawn, and the registry accepted the name.[34] The word "chrome" in his name comes from slang for a horse with flashy white markings.[35]

California Chrome begin race training as a two-year-old colt with Art Sherman and Alan Sherman of Sherman Training Stables.[23][36] After his first six races, he was paired with jockey Victor Espinoza and the team went on to a six-race winning streak that included the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.[1]

As of 2014, Love the Chase has given birth to three foals. The other two, both fillies, are full sisters to California Chrome.[21] After California Chrome became a Kentucky Derby contender, Martin and Coburn turned down an offer of $2.1 million for Love the Chase.[11] Prior to the Santa Anita Derby on April 8, 2014,[37] they turned down a $6 million offer for a 51% controlling interest in California Chrome that would have mandated putting the horse with a different trainer.[38] Coburn later explained why: "This isn't about the money, this is about the dream."[27]

Immediately following the Belmont Stakes, Coburn generated some controversy when he described the current Triple Crown system as allowing "the coward's way out" because horses who had not run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes could challenge horses who had contested all three legs without a break.[39] Trainer Art Sherman commented, "[Coburn] was at the heat of the moment. And don't forget, he's a fairly new owner. Sometimes the emotions get in front of you ... He hasn't been in the game long and hasn't had any bad luck." By the following Monday morning, Coburn had apologized, saying he wanted to congratulate the owners of winner Tonalist and adding, "I wanted so much for [California Chrome] to win the Triple Crown for the people of America, and I was pretty emotional, very emotional."[40]


  1. After the success of California Chrome in 2014, Lucky Pulpit's stud fee was raised to $10,000.[29]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Staff. "California Chrome (CA)". Equibase. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Arrington, Debbie (April 6, 2014). "California Chrome Ready to Crunch KY Derby". Blood-Horse. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Scoby, Ashley (May 1, 2014). "Winner's Circle of Friends". ESPNW. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Arrington, Debbie (April 20, 2014). "Derby horse takes his Yuba City owners on ride of a lifetime". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Finley, Patrick (June 5, 2014). "Chicagoan California Chrome co-owners fine in background". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
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  12. Angeli, Burt (April 19, 2014). "Kentucky Derby hopeful has Tech connections". Daily Mining Gazette. Houghton, MI. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  13. Hall, Gregory A. (June 4, 2014). "California Chrome co-owner details Derby flap". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  14. "About the Author". Amazon.com. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  15. Martin, Perry (1999). Electronic Failure Analysis Handbook. McGraw-Hill. p. 766. ISBN 978-0071626347.
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  17. Harris, Beth (May 4, 2014). "California Chrome, trainer Art Sherman gear up for Preakness after Derby win". Washington Times. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Angeli, Burt (April 19, 2014). "Kentucky Derby bound". Iron Mountain Daily News. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
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  21. 21.0 21.1 Murray, Chris (May 21, 2014). "10 things you might not know about California Chrome". Courier-Journal. Louisville. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
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  23. 23.0 23.1 Brisnet.com (April 6, 2014). "California Chrome basks in limelight". Kentucky Derby Racing News. Kentuckyderby.com. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
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  25. Rush, Bonnie R. (January 2014). "Epiglottic Entrapment in Horses". Merck Veterinary Manual. Merck. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
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  32. Staff. "Harris Farms 2014 Stallions". Harris Farms. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  33. HRTV1June, 6:07.
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External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to California Chrome.