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Kentucky Derby Contenders 2014: Early Predictions for Favorites Before Post Draw

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, APRIL 26-27 - FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2014 file photo provided by Benoit Photo, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza win the $250,000 California Cup Derby horse race at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. A full field of 20 is expected for the 140th Kentucky Derby on May 3. California Chrome is the early favorite.  (AP Photo/Benoit Photo, File)
Uncredited/Associated Press
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2014

The 2014 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 3, but the draw for the post positions in the race will take place on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

As the excitement surrounding the post positions continues to build, it’s time to take a look at the top contenders making noise before the draw is even announced.

Here are the top contenders to watch during the fastest two minutes in sports.

 

California Chrome

The most talked-about horse coming into the 2014 Kentucky Derby is California Chrome. Despite all of his success coming on the West Coast, this horse has the power and stamina to run to the front of the field on Saturday.

California Chrome has won four consecutive races coming into the first leg of the Triple Crown, including wins at King Glorious Stakes, California Cup Derby, San Felipe Stakes and most notably the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

After so much success, part-owner Steve Coburn told the Lexington Herald-Leader about an offer he received to buy his horse and his immediate reaction:

Now this horse has serious momentum on his side.

Add in the fact that he is surrounded by quality people like trainer Art Sherman and veteran jockey Victor Espinoza, and there is little doubt that California Chrome won’t at least be in contention for the victory.

Predicted Finish: First

 

Vicar's In Trouble

Another horse drawing plenty of attention is the Michael Maker-trained Vicar's In Trouble. The talented colt has impressed in the buildup to the Kentucky Derby and will look to translate that into success at Churchill Downs.

Vicar's In Trouble was only able to pull out a third-place finish in February’s Risen Star Stakes, but he bounced back with a huge win at the Louisiana Derby in March.

While many fans and experts are high on Vicar's In Trouble, Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch spoke about his lackluster performance during the preparation for Saturday’s main event:

The ultimate ace up the sleeve for Vicar's In Trouble is jockey Rosie Napravnik. With her experience in the Kentucky Derby and her aggressiveness on the course, Napravnik will have this horse in contention for the win.

Predicted Finish: Second

 

Wicked Strong

A horse who depends more on the post-position draw than the other horses is Wicked Strong. If he can get a favorable draw and avoid traffic out of the starting gate, this horse proved in the past that he has the ability to run out front and hold off the pack.

While Wicked Strong’s early career was marred with struggles—he finished ninth at the Holy Bull Stakes in January—he bounced back and managed to win one of the most important Kentucky Derby setup races, the Wood Memorial.

A victory at the Wood Memorial is why he’s a favorite to win on Saturday.

Couple his previous success with a veteran trainer like James Jerkens and jockey Rajiv Maragh, and there are expectations that Wicked Strong should make a late run and fight for a spot in the top three.

Predicted Finish: Third

 

*Stats via HorseRacingNation.com.

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