Kentucky Derby Picks 2014: Predictions for Projected Lineup at Churchill Downs

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2014

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 28:  California Chrome arrives at track in preparation for the140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 28, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Bust out your mint juleps and fancy hats because the 2014 Kentucky Derby is sure to bring the white-knuckled finish that Churchill Downs routinely does. 

There are a number of strong horses in the field this year, as can be seen with a quick glance at the favorites. Take a look at OddsShark's odds for some of the top horses in the projected lineup as of Monday, April 28:

2014 Kentucky Derby Odds
California Chrome5-2
Wicked Strong13-2
Dance with Fate20-1
Ride on Curlin20-1
Vicar's in Trouble20-1
Wildcat Red20-1
Candy Boy25-1
Intense Holiday25-1
General a Rod33-1
Social Inclusion33-1
Commanding Curve40-1
Medal Count40-1
Uncle Sigh40-1
We Miss Artie40-1
Harry's Holiday50-1
Pablo Del Monte50-1

Now that we know what the lineup looks like, let’s dig into a few predictions.

California Chrome Captures the Run for the Roses


No horse comes into the Kentucky Derby with more momentum than the favorite, California Chrome.

He has four straight Stakes victories under his belt and was absolutely dominant at the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. In fact, he completely dusted the rest of the field and looked all the part of a potential Triple Crown contender in the process.

Still, first things first. In order for California Chrome to challenge for the prestigious Triple Crown, he has to take care of business on the sport’s biggest stage.

Trainer Art Sherman told Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times that he certainly understands the stakes: 

Any trainer that says the Derby doesn’t mean anything is crazy. It’s not an easy race to win. I think it’s a prestigious race, and at least you know, Man, I won the Kentucky Derby. Then I’d be able to say that I’ve done it all.

If California Chrome runs up to his potential and continues his hot streak, then everyone associated with the horse will be able to experience that championship feeling at Churchill Downs.

Danza Will Disappoint

Garry Jones

Danza is one of the strongest horses in the field and a strong closer. If he is in contention in the final push, the other horses could be in trouble given his finishing speed.

Danza is getting a lot of attention prior to the race because he won the Arkansas Derby, but it’s not as if he is a consistent winner who comes to Churchill Downs on an attention-grabbing hot streak like California Chrome.

To make matters worse, Danza experienced a knee injury recently and missed nearly seven months.

There will be a lot of pressure on this horse at Churchill Downs and he won’t be able to match the performance of the dominant California Chrome.

So Will Wicked Strong

Chelsea Durand

Wicked Strong is on the short list of Kentucky Derby contenders largely because of a victory at the Wood Memorial.

He impressed with a third-place finish in the Grade II Remsen Stakes as well and at times looks like one of the best horses in the sport.

However, it is important to note that Wicked Strong’s average finish in four New York races (including Aqueduct and Belmont) is 1.75, but his average finish in two races outside New York (Gulfstream and Holy Bull Stakes) is a disappointing 6.5.

News flash, the Kentucky Derby isn’t in New York.

Las Vegas oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough seems to think California Chrome will be a dominant favorite over Wicked Strong:

It’s not really the fault of Wicked Strong and the other horses that California Chrome is such a strong competitor, but that doesn’t change the fact that it will still be disappointing for their teams when they fall just short.


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