The 140th annual Kentucky Derby is quickly approaching, and a better idea of how the race will play out will come during Wednesday's post position draw. Post time for the race at Churchill Downs on Saturday is slated for approximately 6:24 p.m. ET, according to the official website.
California Chrome has been the consensus favorite to win the Run for the Roses, and that shouldn't change when the morning-line odds are released. OddsShark.com has California Chrome listed at 11-4 to get to the winner's circle, followed by Wicked Strong (7-1) and Danza (9-1).
This is going to be a deep field, though, and with the unpredictability that tends to accompany horse racing, this opening leg of the Triple Crown should offer plenty of thrills regardless of the outcome. It is always going to be a must-see event, especially until another horse can win all three Triple Crown races, which hasn't been done since 1978.
Here is a closer look at the basic information and a schedule of when and where to catch the action in Louisville, along with a brief overview of what to expect in the race.
|Wednesday, April 30||Kentucky Derby Draw||5 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Thursday, May 1||Kentucky Derby Access||5 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Friday, May 2||Kentucky Derby Classics||2 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Friday, May 2||Kentucky Oaks||3 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Saturday, May 3||Kentucky Derby||4 p.m.||NBC|
|Saturday, May 3||Kentucky Derby Post-Race Show||7 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
Information for 2014 Kentucky Derby
When: Saturday, May 3 (post time approximately 6:24 p.m. ET)
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Contenders and Race Analysis
|California Chrome||Art Sherman||150|
|Vicar's In Trouble||Mike Maker||120|
|Dance With Fate||Peter Eurton||108|
|Wicked Strong||Jimmy Jerkens||102|
|Samraat||Rick Violette Jr.||100|
|Intense Holiday||Todd Pletcher||93|
|Wildcat Red||Jose Garoffalo||90|
|We Miss Artie||Todd Pletcher||60|
|Ride On Curlin||Billy Gowan||55|
|General A Rod||Mike Maker||40|
|Medal Count||Dale Romans||40|
|Candy Boy||John Sadler||30|
|Uncle Sigh||Henry Contessa||24|
|Harry's Holiday||Mike Maker||20|
|Commanding Curve||Dallas Stewart||20|
|Pablo Del Monte||Wesley Ward||20|
|Social Inclusion||Manny Azpurua||20|
|Big Bazinga||Katerina Vassilieva||14|
Source: New York Daily News
California Chrome is entering uncharted territory, having been raised in the Golden State and with a slew of inexperienced Derby connections and a pedigree that doesn't hint at a strong run in Louisville. But winning four straight races by 24 1/4 lengths can't possibly be a fluke, especially after California Chrome's triumph at the Santa Anita Derby.
James Scully of Brisnet.com did a feature on the prohibitive Kentucky Derby favorite for NBCSports.com, noting that just three California-bred horses have won the first Triple Crown jewel. The last to do it was the Bill Hartack-ridden Decidedly over 52 years ago.
Trainer Art Sherman dismissed concerns about California Chrome adjusting to the new scenery at Churchill Downs, per Scully:
If you've been around this horse, if you've been around horses in general, you know they all have their own personalities. This horse just has a wonderful personality, an excellent demeanor. He's so easy-going, so laid back. Nothing seems to bother him. I guess there are things I should be concerned about given our situation, but one thing I'm not is how this horse is going to handle his trip down there. "Chrome" will deal with it just fine. I'm not worried about that at all.
It's easy to feel optimistic with the way California Chrome has been dominating his competition in his past four starts—all with the same jockey in Victor Espinoza aboard. Although the 10 furlongs is longer to travel than California Chrome has had to ever before in competition, many of his fellow contenders are dealing with the same situation.
Monmouth Park race announcer Travis Stone implied that there are several potential upstarts that can emerge and have excellent runs in Louisville, but feels California Chrome is indeed the top favorite:
The one thing that's different this year, however, is that California Chrome figures to be a fairly solid and deserving favorite.— Travis Stone (@TravisStone) April 28, 2014
Since his ceiling has yet to be established, California Chrome may very well have an historic run in him.
Santa Anita Derby runner-up Hoppertunity hails from Kentucky and should be a big factor, likely to see his odds continuing to shorten leading up to the starting gate. Hoppertunity did fine work on a sloppy Churchill Downs track, which Mike Welsch of the Daily Racing Form took note of:
Hoppertunity in co. with Drill 5/8's from the 4 1/2 in 1:01.25 w/very strong gallop out 1:14.00 up 1:27.36 impressive move over wet track— Mike Welsch (@DRFWelsch) April 28, 2014
A Hall of Fame trainer-jockey tandem featuring Bob Baffert and Mike Smith should help Hoppertunity run well and probably finish in the money.
Wicked Strong and Danza won the Wood Memorial Stakes and the Arkansas Derby, respectively. Neither of those accomplishments should be belittled since they came against Grade I competition, but in the case of Wicked Strong, he finished ninth in January's Grade II Holy Bull Stakes, and last year's Wood Memorial winner in Verrazano finished just 14th in the Kentucky Derby.
Danza seems like a better pick, though he is a bit of an unproven commodity, given that he was a 40-1 long shot before winning in Hot Springs and doesn't have much else on his resume.
Who will win the 2014 Kentucky Derby?
Without any truly formidable challengers and with room for California Chrome to improve on his previous prowess, there is at least a somewhat realistic chance for Sherman's camp to have Triple Crown aspirations.
But with the less accomplished adversaries comes the uncertainty factor and the potential for a breakout performance. Look no further than Danza's romp at Santa Anita Park, or the three dark horses in the past five years that have won the Kentucky Derby.
The post position draw will provide more clarity, but there is already plenty of hype to cling to ahead of Saturday's epic showcase.