Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Early Look at Front-Runners in Triple Crown Race

Alex KayCorrespondent IApril 24, 2014

In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Santa Anita Derby horse race, Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Benoit Photo)

The 2014 Kentucky Derby is just around the corner, believe it or not, and it’s already time to start analyzing which contender will be adorned with a blanket of roses at Churchill Downs.

It’s always tough to narrow down the Run for the Roses to just a couple of horses poised to win, especially considering that it is the first marquee race of the Triple Crown season. However, that is exactly what this piece will attempt.

Keep reading for a look at the updated odds for each potential Kentucky Derby participant, plus a closer peek at a few front-runners worth heavy consideration on May 3.

2014 Kentucky Derby Odds as of April 23
California Chrome7-4
Wicked Strong8-1
Vicars In Trouble10-1
Dance with Fate16-1
Wildcat Red16-1
Intense Holiday20-1
Social Inclusion20-1


*Complete list of contenders can be found at


The Favorite: California Chrome at 7-4

California Chrome is being hailed as the favorite in the weeks leading up to this prestigious event, which should come as little surprise to those who have been following the sport.

The thoroughbred lit up the preparation races during the Road to the Kentucky Derby and nabbed first place on the leaderboard by a wide margin, as per Jonathan Lintner of The Courier-Journal:

This colt boasts one of the strongest resumes of any potential horse in the field, as it earned notable victories at the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe, the Cal Cup Derby, King of Glorious Stakes and Graduation Stakes.

Considering California Chrome has won his last four races, it is going to be hard to bet against him extending that streak to five. He has the speed and endurance to win at a 10-furlong distance, which makes him the odds-on favorite to secure the first jewel of the Triple Crown.

While trainer Art Sherman hasn’t won a Derby yet and Victor Espinoza isn’t exactly the most heralded jockey, this team is strong and could likely become champions at Churchill Downs.


Next Best Bet: Wicked Strong at 8-1

Those looking to shy away from the favorite and seek a bit better of a payout should look no further than Wicked Strong, who is a rock-solid bet at 8-1.

He was re-named in honor of the victims of last year’s Boston Marathon tragedy and owner Don Little Jr. believes fate brought Wicked Strong here. He spoke about that with Jacqueline Tempera of The Boston Globe, after the horse became the first to qualify for the Derby in the 32-year history of Centennial Farms

"Absolutely, totally, I believe in fate," Little said. "There are things we don’t have control of, that are bringing us good energy. ... I truly believe this is meant to be. Too many coincidences have aligned."

This colt finally broke through by winning the Wood Memorial, a notable race that has prepared many Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners during its illustrious history.

Wicked Strong claimed its maiden victory in that race at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York and is now hoping to join the 11 horses that went on to win the Run for the Roses.

There is even a chance that this powerful colt breaks through and wins the entire Triple Crown, as four prior winners at the Wood have done. Considering that his big win came by 3.5 lengths over previously undefeated Samratt—going off at 20-1 in the Derby right now—it is certainly possible to envision that scenario.

Jerry Bossert of the New York Daily News pointed out how fast Wicked Strong is running during his training at Belmont:

Don’t sleep on this rapidly improving powerhouse busting through and winning big in Kentucky.