PARMA -- The distance between Parma, Idaho and Churchill Downs, Kentucky is nearly 2,000 miles. Despite their obvious regional differences, both locations share a history of horse racing and a connection to champion thoroughbreds.
That's because 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome has roots at Tree Top Ranches in Parma. The horse's sire Lucky Pulpit was raised and broken here.
"Idaho, not unlike Kentucky, is just a very nice place to raise a horse," said Dan Kiser, Racing and Breeding Program Manager at Tree Top Ranches.
A PASSION FOR RACE HORSES
Dan Kiser has been working with horses all his life. He specializes in raising and training thoroughbred racing horses. Working with horses is a passion that runs in his family.
"I think it's something that's just born inside you," said Kiser. "I've always enjoyed horses."
For the last 13 years, Kiser has managed the horses owned by Larry and Marianne Williams. Kiser lives and works at the ranch and is in charge of about 100 horses.
"I get very attached to all of them. They all have different personalities," said Kiser.
Right now, a number of yearlings are living at the ranch in Idaho. Meanwhile, other horses owned by the Williams are in California.
That includes one of Kiser's favorite horses named Lucky Pulpit.
CALIFORNIA CHROME'S IDAHO ROOTS
Lucky Pulpit, a 13-year-old stallion, was born in Kentucky back in 2001, then shipped to Parma when he was just a few months old.
"He was raised in Idaho, he was broken to ride in Idaho and then shipped to California for a racing career," said Kiser. "I loved him from the minute I saw him."
Now, the stallion is passing on his genes to a new generation.
"And he's the sire of a Kentucky Derby winner which I still can't hardly believe. It's amazing," added Kiser.
Lucky Pulpit is the father of California Chrome, the 2014 winner of the Kentucky Derby.
RUN FOR THE ROSES
Although the Williams don't own California Chrome, the horse's connection to Idaho was enough to motivate the couple and a group of their friends to travel to Kentucky for Saturday's race.
Kiser was there and told us seeing Lucky Pulpit's son win the race was a dream come true.
"We were all very emotional," he added.
But this wasn't the first time a horse with ties to Tree Top Ranches made a run for the roses.
"A matter of fact in the last 12 years there has been four California bred horses go to the Kentucky Derby and Lucky Pulpit has sired two of them," said Kiser.
In 2012, the Williams' horse Rousing Sermon competed in the Kentucky Derby. The horse finished in 8th place out of a field of 20.
"They talk a lot about breeding and pedigrees and numbers, but it's simply comes down to trying to breed good mares to good stallions and raising good colts," said Kiser of the horse racing game.
IDAHO'S RACING REPUTATION
Kiser said he's proud to represent the Gem State, caring for and training racing horses. He grew up in the Boise valley and told us the racing world respects the caliber of competitors raised here.
"I'm proud of my Idaho roots and I'm so fortunate to be involved in the thoroughbred game at a very high level and still be able to live in Idaho," said Kiser.
Kiser told us seeing California Chrome race and win at the Kentucky Derby has reaffirmed his passion for the sport.
It's a love for racing and horses that he plans to foster for many more years.
"I hope we can keep good horses coming," said Kiser.