Kentucky Derby 2014: Analyzing Field of Contenders and Favorites to Win

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIApril 27, 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)
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As the 2014 Kentucky Derby approaches, our intrigue in the potential field intensifies, and our thirst for mint juleps increase.

One of these cravings can be settled rather quickly with some bourbon whiskey, some mint leaves and granulated sugar; however, we will have to wait until the official draw on April 30 to know exactly which horses will be competing.

Until then, it's never too early to gather information, look at potential candidates and decipher the favorites for this year's spectacle.

KentuckyDerby.com catalogs the field of contenders based on season rankings. Plenty of the Derby's participants will most certainly come from this list:

2014 Kentucky Derby Contenders
ContenderSeason RankingSeason Points
California Chrome1150
Vicar's In Trouble2120
Dance With Fate3108
Wicked Strong4102
Samraat5100
Danza6100
Hoppertunity795
Intense Holiday893
Wildcat Red990
We Miss Artie1060
Ride On Curlin1155
Chitu1254
Tapiture1352
Ring Weekend1450
General A Rod1540
Medal Count1640
Candy Boy1730
Uncle Sigh1824
Vinceremos1920
Harry's Holiday2020
Commanding Curve2120
Pablo Del Monte2220
Bayern2320
Social Inclusion2420
Big Bazinga2514
Strong Mandate2611
KentuckyDerby.com

Despite these standings, odds for the Derby bring plenty of other factors into play. Oddsmakers have already been hard at work figuring out which contenders have the best shots to don roses on May 3. Here's how OddsShark.com sees it:

2014 Kentucky Derby Odds
ContenderOdds
California Chrome7-4
Danza8-1
Wicked Strong8-1
Vicars In Trouble10-1
Hoppertunity14-1
Dance With Fate16-1
Wildcat Red16-1
Intense Holiday20-1
Samraat20-1
Social Inclusion20-1
Tapiture20-1
Bayern25-1
Candy Boy25-1
Chitu25-1
General A Rod25-1
Ride On Curlin25-1
Ring Weekend25-1
Medal Count33-1
Mexikoma33-1
Strong Mandate33-1
We Miss Artie33-1
Uncle Sigh40-1
Noble Moon50-1
Tap It Rich50-1
OddsShark.com

The barns are already filling out at Churchill Downs, according to Jonathan Lintner of The Courier-Journal, who tweeted out a list of who's in attendance:

The last line of Lintner's tweet relates to what everyone is waiting for: the arrival of California Chrome.

California Chrome is widely heralded as the horse to beat this year—with good reason.

According to Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times, this horse has been nothing short of miraculous recently:

He [California Chrome] will be the favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby in Louisville.

That is because he has won his last four races by a total of 24 1/4 lengths. He won the April 5 Santa Anita Derby like somebody rolling out of bed and warming up with a yawn and a quick stretch. Other jockeys urge and whip their horses down the homestretch. California Chrome's Victor Espinoza ends races half-standing in the saddle, looking lonely.

So, why is this horse so dominant? When Dwyre asked trainer Art Sherman about California Chrome, he was given a succinct, decisive answer:

"This horse is one of those who has a deep, deep desire to run."

Don't believe the hype? Just watch exactly why Dwyre wrote what he did about California Chrome's Santa Anita Derby performance:

Astonishing.

California Chrome may be the favorite; however, there are plenty of horses with legitimate shots at a coveted victory.

Wicked Strong, Danza and Vicar's In Trouble have all shined at times this season, each posting a victory. Hoppertunity figures to have a strong showing as well; however, the horse hasn't been able to keep up with the blazing pace set by California Chrome just yet. Candy Boy, Bayern and Chitu could be in the mix on May 3, too.

Even with these contenders in mind, it appears as though California Chrome's separation from the field in previous races has separated this spectacular horse from the rest of the Kentucky Derby's field as well.