The 140th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place Saturday and the inaugural race for the Triple Crown concerns much more than brash hats and pricey mint juleps. Approximately 165,000 people are expected to attend and all eyes will turn to the gate come post time for "The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports."
One renowned trainer has four horses in the field, but the trainer of the odds-on favorite brings six decades of Derby experience with him. This lists the full field of racers along with updated odds for victory and a few picks for the top horses at Churchill Downs.
Where: Churchill Downs (Louisville, Ky.)
When: Saturday, May 3; post time approx. 6:24 p.m. ET
Watch: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on NBC
Stream: NBC Live Extra
|Dance With Fate||20-1|
|Ride On Curlin||20-1|
|Vicar's In Trouble||20-1|
|General A Rod||33-1|
|We Miss Artie||40-1|
|Pablo Del Monte||50-1|
(All odds courtesy of Oddsshark.com as of 10 a.m. ET on April 29.)
The Derby kicks off the pursuit of the elusive Triple Crown, a feat no horse has accomplished since Affirmed in 1978. The last horse to flirt with the Triple Crown was I'll Have Another in 2012, though he did not even race in the Belmont Stakes due to injury. Big Brown had a shot in 2008, but did not finish at Belmont.
Post positions for the race will be decided on Wednesday the 30th at 5 p.m. ET and no horse has ever won the Derby from the 17th position, per Churchill Downs, via AP. Provided they can stay out of slot No. 17, these three horses each have an inside shot at victory.
California Chrome turned in an impressive victory by more than five lengths in the Santa Anita Derby. After leading all horses in the field in points during qualifying, he brings a prowess to the track that is worthy of a favorite.
California Chrome's experience in big races gives him an edge over the field. He has won each of his last four races, a feat which impressed even experienced trainer Art Sherman.
As he told the Associated Press, via USA Today: "I've never had a horse that did that before. I just want my horse to have a fair shake at it and have good racing luck, and I'm sure hopeful for him. He's a gutty little horse."
An underwhelming pedigree will trouble some who seek a bona fide favorite to win, but the results from California Chrome are hard to argue with so far.
Sherman first experienced the Derby in 1955 as he embarked on a career to become a jockey. More than a half-century later, the favorite trotting on to the track will be the horse he trained. The 77-year-old has hefty hopes riding on his 3-year-old with metal shoes.
Named after actor Tony Danza, this horse would be the clear crowd favorite if Tony Danza were actually the jockey. Instead, Danza has a renowned trainer and a marquee victory in recent results.
As noted by U-T San Diego's Ed Zieralski, Danza is trained by the cream of the crop, but comes into Churchill Downs as something of a wild card.
Danza, the colt, has a lot going for him. He’s trained by the nation’s leading trainer in earnings, Todd Pletcher...Handicappers and bettors gave Danza no respect in the Arkansas Derby, and even now there are those who don’t know what to make of Danza’s 4.75-length Arkansas Derby victory. He set a career-best speed rating of 104 and showed no signs of a minor knee injury that led to some time off after a third-place finish in his second race, the Saratoga Special last August.
The knee injury presents a mild cause for concern, but the result in Arkansas should give bettors plenty to feel confident about.
However, Danza will also have to contend with the other three horses entered by Pletcher—Intense Holiday, We Miss Artie and Vinceremos. Pletcher last tasted victory in Louisville with Super Saver in 2010.
Vicar's In Trouble
This horse has never finished outside the money in five career starts, which certainly makes bettors happy. The horse could also carry his jockey to victory, as Rosie Napravnik seeks to become the first female jockey to win the Derby.
Vicar's In Trouble took an early lead in the Grade II Louisiana Derby and held on through the finish. That wire-to-wire win served notice on the field, but he also lacks experience compared to his competition.
Of works just now, liked Candy Boy a lot, Medal Count not bad, Vicar's in Trouble very average, very disappointed with Commanding Curve.— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) April 26, 2014
With zero experience in Grade I races, he will need to outlast the distance against a stacked field—and the Louisiana Derby win may have been fool's gold. At the same time, that makes him a candidate for exotic bets.