About halfway down the Interstate 5 freeway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, in the heart of California’s Central Valley, is a lunch stop that’s a cut above most of the fast-food joints that hug the roadside.
The Harris Ranch Inn, which serves meat and veg fresh from nearby Harris Farms, also sells clothing and souvenirs bearing a name now familiar to most Americans: California Chrome. Many farms in the Central Valley are utterly demoralised by the water shortages, but Harris Farms was given a morale boost in May when California won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. Had he also triumphed at the Belmont Stakes in New York last month, he would have become the first horse to win the “Triple Crown” of US racing since 1978.
In the event, California Chrome came in fourth at Belmont, after injuring his hoof. He has been recuperating ever since at Harris Farms.
William Bourdeau, the vice president of Harris Farms, says its affiliation with the winning chestnut made the farm’s drought-stricken summer “a lot less painful”. He says: “We’ve had something to hope for. It’s helped the morale of the whole Valley community. It’s really neat to be associated with something that has national appeal.”.