One of the sporting world's greatest events—the Kentucky Derby—is set to commence to help kick off what will prove to be a wild month, but first the horses have to be given post positions at the official draw.
Draw day is a spectacle in itself as trainers and jockeys learn their fate. The right position can put a favorite in a spot to dominate, while a historically inept post position can doom the mightiest of contenders.
For those who financially participate in the festivity, odds are also released after the official draw.
Suffice it to say, it's an event the globe will want to catch. Here's the scoop.
What: 2014 Kentucky Derby Draw
When: Wednesday, April 30 at 5 p.m.
TV Info: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Note: Full viewing info for entire event can be found here.
The official lineup for the proceedings at Churchill Downs won't be decided until after the draw, but the leaderboard going into the festivities gives us a good idea of the horses who will partake in the action:
|1||California Chrome||Art Sherman||150||$782,250|
|2||Vicar’s in Trouble||Mike Maker||120||$760,000|
|3||Dance With Fate||Peter Eurton||108||$600,000|
|4||Wicked Strong||Jimmy Jerkens||102||$630,000|
|5||Samraat||Rick Violette Jr.||100||$640,000|
|8||Intense Holiday||Todd Pletcher||93||$527,500|
|9||Wildcat Red||Jose Garrofalo||90||$610,000|
|10||We Miss Artie||Todd Pletcher||60||$544,000|
|11||Ride On Curlin||Billy Gowan||55||$354,387|
|14||Ring Weekend||H. Graham Motion||50||$260,000|
|15||General a Rod||Mike Maker||40||$240,000|
|16||Medal Count||Dale Romans||40||$226,500|
|17||Candy Boy||John Sadler||30||$380,000|
|18||Uncle Sigh||Gary Contessa||24||$180,000|
|20||Harry’s Holiday||Mike Maker||20||$152,622|
|21||Commanding Curve||Dallas Stewart||20||$140,000|
|22||Pablo Del Monte||Wesley Ward||20||$102,000|
|24||Social Inclusion||Manny Azpurua||20||$90,000|
In tandem with a barn list provided by Jonathan Lintner of The Courier-Journal, the race is coming into picture:
To be succinct, 20 horses enter the race, while an additional four qualifiers are "also eligible" should one of the original 20 withdraw between the draw and race itself.
Easy. Which horse-jockey combo that emerges the winner is another story entirely.
But conventional wisdom says to keep a keen eye on California Chrome. Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times helps to explain why recent trends suggest Chrome is the horse to bet with on Saturday:
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.
But again, the draw can hurt even favorites such as Chrome. As the Associated Press explains, via ESPN, it is of the utmost importance, and those involved certainly understand their fate is tied to the draw:
The field of 20 horses is announced on Wednesday. That's when the draw is held to determine spots in the starting gate. Some trainers want to avoid the No. 1 post because their horse starts next to the rail and could get pinched going into the first turn. Others don't like the No. 20 post because their horse is on the far outside and has to quickly make its way over toward the rail to save ground going into the first turn. Last year's winner, Orb, broke from the No. 15 post. The odds are set on draw day, too.
Perhaps the biggest name of all to watch? Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has four likely starters who can nail down his second Derby victory. Chief among them is Intense Holiday, who has had quite the workouts leading up to the big day, per Pletcher himself, via horseracinghl of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Todd Pletcher says can't recall Intense Holiday ever working better than today. Said that We Miss Artie had his worst work ever on dirt.— horseracinghl (@horseracinghl) April 27, 2014
The other Pletcher horses to watch are Danza, We Miss Artie and Vinceremos.
As of now, things are pretty clear-cut. Pletcher certainly has odds in his favor, as does Chrome given recent successes, but a lot can change between now and the event.
While it's not the NFL draft or anything close in terms of the hype department, the Kentucky Derby draw has plenty on the line Wednesday.