Heavy favorite California Chrome drew the fifth post for the 2014 Kentucky Derby in what was a fairly neutral draw for the horse.
In the fifth post, Chrome won't be able to have a conservative start. He would run the risk of getting bogged down in traffic as the field moves toward the rail. Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden helps explain:
California chrome draws the 5. Not great, not disastrous. Gonna have to go a little.— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) April 30, 2014
So, Chrome is still bound to leave the gate as a big favorite, but he's certainly not the only horse to watch. With Wednesday's draw for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, the odds for the Run for the Roses are locking in. Have a look:
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||30-1||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey|
|2||Harry's Holiday||50-1||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||Skychai Racing LLC, Sand Dollar Stable, LLC, Terry Raymond & Jana Wagner|
|3||Uncle Sigh||30-1||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||Wounded Warrior Stables & Anthony C. Robertson|
|4||Danza||10-1||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners|
|5||California Chrome||5-2||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin|
|6||Samraat||15-1||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||My Meadowview Farm|
|7||We Miss Artie||50-1||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey|
|8||General A Rod||15-1||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLC|
|9||Vinceremos||30-1||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher||WinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks Racing|
|10||Wildcat Red||15-1||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||Honors Stable Corp.|
|11||Hoppertunity||6-1||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||Karl Watson, Mike Pegram & Paul Weitman|
|12||Dance With Fate||20-1||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||S. Alesia, Bran Jam Stable & Ciaglia Racing, LLC|
|13||Chitu||20-1||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||Tanma Corporation|
|14||Medal Count||20-1||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||Spendthrift Farm|
|15||Tapiture||15-1||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||Winchell Thoroughbreds|
|16||Intense Holiday||12-1||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||Starlight Racing|
|17||Commanding Curve||50-1||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||West Point Thoroughbreds|
|18||Candy Boy||20-1||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||C R K Stable LLC|
|19||Ride On Curlin||15-1||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||Daniel J. Dougherty|
Sources: KentuckyDerby.com and OddsShark
Just for the sake of making a fully informed selection, have a look at how the post positions have fared since the introduction of the starting gate in 1930.
|Post||No. of Winners||Most Recent|
|3||5||1998, Real Quiet|
|4||5||2010, Super Saver|
|5||8||2003, Funny Cide|
|6||2||1993, Sea Hero|
|7||6||2007, Street Sense|
|8||8||2009, Mine That Bird|
|9||4||1972, Riva Ridge|
|11||2||1998, Winning Colors|
|12||3||1971, Canonero II|
|13||3||2004, Smarty Jones|
|14||2||1961, Carry Back|
|15||3||2000, Fusaichi Pegasus|
|18||1||1982, Gato Del Sol|
|19||1||2012, I'll Have Another|
|20||1||2008, Big Brown|
Most Intriguing Favorites
In a group of talented yet inconsistent horses, Caliornia Chrome stands head and shoulders above. The Art Sherman trainee was considered a heavy favorite leading up to the draw, and that wasn't likely to change after. It certainly wasn't going to change after he drew No. 5.
Chrome has been supremely impressive. He will enter the derby having won four straight. Those wins have come by over a combined 24 lengths. The last two wins have come in graded stakes races, the last being the Santa Anita Derby. That race included Bob Baffert trainee Hoppertunity.
This horse has looked spectacular, which is especially impressive considering his bargain-basement breeding. The owners certainly believe in this horse. As Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde reported in the link from the below tweet, the owners of California Chrome, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, have turned down many offers for this horse. One of those offers came a couple of months ago and was for $6 million:
"The answer wasn't no. It was hell no." Why California Chrome's owners declined a huge offer for their Derby horse. http://t.co/Kt1Ws1lE7c— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 30, 2014
As Forde stated, the owners admitted it would be "life-changing money," but they haven't flinched on selling. California Chrome and the people around him are in a unique and special moment in time, and this horse has all the looks of being ready to seize on that moment by winning the Run for the Roses.
Starting on the extreme outside isn't as bad as one might think. Sure, Wicked Strong has the furthest path to the finish line, but he will be safe from the traffic. Not to mention, with the form this horse showed in his last race, he has the speed down the stretch to win this race in the closing moments.
After being a complete afterthought for the derby, Wicked Strong exploded into the public consciousness with a dominant showing in the Wood Memorial.
Wicked Strong won just one of his first five races before the April 5 Wood Memorial for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct. He won that prestigious race by 3.5 lengths.
That race featured a strong field that included the previously undefeated Samraat, who, by the way, got a poor draw at No. 6.
Wicked Strong remains a favorite to win this race after the draw.
Which horse will finish the highest?
Danza got the fourth post. That position has had moderate and recent success. In 2010, Super Saver won from post No. 4. Super Saver and Danza share the same trainer, Todd Pletcher.
Admittedly, that is not a strong connection to predict a victory, but in this case it is a little icing on a late-blooming cake. Danza floundered a bit to start his career and then took a seven-month layoff due to some knee trouble.
He's had two races since returning. The first was completely forgettable. The second was entirely unforgettable. Danza dominated the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park by four lengths.
It's interesting that Danza and Chrome will be right next to each other. This could either help the horses set a sustainable yet quick early pace, or they'll wear each other out trying to get to the front first.