Just over 24 hours remain until the 2014 Kentucky Derby. The anticipation is teeming as all 20 horses are set to trot out on the track in hopes of taking the Run for the Roses.
But with just a handful of favorites and only three prized spots at the top of the field, 19 geldings' hopes will be dashed with just one coming away with the trophy.
Names like California Chrome and Wicked Strong have dominated most conversations and articles about the race, but several others have an outside shot to down the commanding colts. Following a tough draw for Wicked Strong, the Boston horse now looks like a gelding with only a glimmer of hope.
Before the race gets underway on Saturday evening, here's a look at the full field and schedule, along with predictions for the top horses in the running.
Kentucky Derby Race Information
When: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports LiveExtra
|Post||Horse||Jockey||Trainer||Morning Line Odds|
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||30-1|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||50-1|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||30-1|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||10-1|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||5-2|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||15-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||50-1|
|8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||15-1|
|9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||15-1|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||OUT|
|12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||20-1|
|13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||20-1|
|14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||20-1|
|15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||15-1|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||50-1|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||20-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan||15-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens||8-1|
When it comes to favorites, California Chrome looks as close to a runaway as any since Big Brown.
Jockey Victory Espinoza previously won the 2002 Kentucky Derby. He did so out of the No. 5 post. If history truly is to repeat itself, this 5-2 favorite might make a run at the Triple Crown as well.
With the unfortunate twist for Hoppertunity, who is now out of the race according to Esther Marr of The Blood-Horse magazine, California Chrome is an even bigger favorite at this point, as Kevin Oklobzija of the Democrat and Chronicle notes:
Sounds like Hopportunity will be scratched from Kentucky Derby due to ailment. He was a contender. California Chrome stronger favorite now.— Kevin Oklobzija (@kevinoDandC) May 1, 2014
While he didn't earn a particularly great post during the draw, Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated points out that he simply needs to get off to a strong start to contend:
California chrome draws the 5. Not great, not disastrous. Gonna have to go a little.— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) April 30, 2014
California Chrome is a special gelding with a strong pedigree and jockey that will easily lead him to the front. But with a startling cast behind him, the colt will have to maintain momentum throughout the final stretch like Orb did last season.
Dark-Horse Contender: Wildcat Red
Coming into the Derby, Wildcat Red didn't look like a huge contender. But that all changed with the post draw as the colt wound up in the No. 10 gate.
Wildcat Red might not get the publicity of a horse like California Chrome or Wicked Strong, but he's certainly got what it takes to surprise the rest of the field.
Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com notes that Wildcat Red has just as good a chance to take the roses as any other horse in the running:
From current analysis, legit KY Derby contenders are California Chrome, Danza, Wildcat Red, Ride on Curlin and Social Inclusion.— Paul Bessire (@predictmachine) April 27, 2014
Much like California Chrome, Wildcat Red now has better odds of winning it all with Hoppertunity on the sidelines. With the colt initially set to ride next to him, Wildcat Red now should have a clear lane to break away out of the middle post.
Colt to Watch: Samraat
After claiming five career wins in six starts, Samraat has proven he has the pedigree to win any notable race. But following a loss in the Wood Memorial against Wicked Strong, the gelding has question marks coming into the Derby.
Trainer Rick Violette Jr. believes his horse will make everyone forget about that one second-place finish, per Alicia Wincze Hughes of Kentucky.com:
He's run six times and one horse has beaten him. I'll take that anywhere. Even that race (the Wood) he went through a couple inter-race schooling victories. He had never been surrounded before ... that was the first time he had horses in front of him and behind him and beside him and he handled that well.
He's literally done everything we've asked, sometimes things just work out. We got lucky enough after he broke his maiden to get an allowance race to go at 71/2 furlongs and then he gets his first two-turn experience in a couple of the open races. Everything kind of has worked out from Day One.