California Chrome blew the field away on Saturday, winning the 77th running of the Santa Anita Derby with ease.
Hoppertunity came in second place, with Candy Boy and Dublin Up following closely behind, as shown by the Kentucky Derby on Twitter:
Santa Anita Derby order (#KYDerby points): 1: 5-California Chrome (100) 2: 3-Hoppertunity (40) 3: 6-Candy Boy (20) 4: 8-Dublin Up (10)— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) April 5, 2014
As you can see from this picture, courtesy of the Santa Anita Press Box, no horse came close to matching California Chrome:
Santa Anita Derby winning California Chrome pic.twitter.com/vNNA612tYd— SA Press Box (@SAPublicity) April 5, 2014
Remarkably, Steve Anderson of Daily Racing Form reported jockey Victor Espinoza eased down his horse down the stretch, which demonstrated just how much of a lead the duo had on the field at the finish:
California Chrome (3-5) won Saturday's Santa Anita Derby after being eased down in the final yards by jockey Victor Espinoza. #santaanita— Steve Andersen (@DRFAndersen) April 5, 2014
|$1 Pick 3||6-4-5 (3 correct)||17.20|
Payout information courtesy of Equibase.com.
California Chrome's commanding performance had many, including Jay Posner of SOSD.com and Claire Novak of Blood-Horse, thinking that the horse is destined for greater things in the near future:
Don't think we'll see a better performance today than California Chrome just turned in at Santa Anita Derby. Looks like the real deal.— Jay Posner (@sdutPosner) April 5, 2014
The big win didn't come as a surprise, however.
California Chrome was the heavy betting favorite, as pointed out by Anderson, with 3-5 odds heading into the race.
Before the race, trainer Art Sherman was excited about what he'd seen in practice and believed his horse was ready for the challenge, as relayed by BloodHorse.com: "He looked sharp. He galloped out strong, five furlongs in a minute, and three-quarters in 1:13 2/5. All systems are go. His work was super; I was very impressed. I'll get him over there (to Santa Anita), school him in the gate, go through the paddock and then we'll be ready to go."
The victory was the fourth straight for California Chrome, and there's no doubt this horse will be among the favorites—if not the heavy favorite—to win the Kentucky Derby in early May.
Where will California Chrome finish at the Kentucky Derby?
Speed clearly isn't an issue for this horse, which treated the competition like discarded oats on Saturday.
With nothing left to prove between now and May 3, Sherman will likely keep his horse rested from now until the first of the Triple Crown races.
For his part, Sherman had this to say about his champion after the race, as relayed by Jose A. Contreras of LosPonies.com:
Art Sherman : "im humbled to have a horse like this" #CaliforniaChrome— Jose A Contreras (@LosPonies) April 5, 2014
Such a classy man.
While California Chrome is a lock for the Derby, it will be interesting to see how things play out for the outliers with less than a month to go. One thing is sure: This year's Triple Crown is shaping up nicely thus far.