There's a lot of research and consideration that goes into successfully picking the winning horse at the Kentucky Derby.
You've got to examine more than just the odds. Post position is key, knowing the jockey's history of success is important and understanding the horse's pedigree can be vital as well.
With the 140th Run for the Roses just two days away, let's take a closer look at some of those critical factors for every horse in the field.
Date: Saturday, May 3
Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET
Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|2014 Kentucky Derby Field|
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||Sire: Into Mischief, Dam: Vibrant, Dam Sire: Vicar||30-1|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||Sire: Harlan's Holiday, Dam: Daisy Mason, Dam Sire: Orientate||50-1|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||Sire: Indian Charlie, Dam: Cradlesong, Dam Sire: Pine Bluff||30-1|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||Sire: Street Boss, Dam: Champagne Royale, Dam Sire: French Deputy||10-1|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||Sire: Lucky Pulpit, Dam: Love the Chase, Dam Sire: Not for Love||5-2|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||Sire: Noble Causeway, Dam: Little Indian Girl, Dam Sire: Indian Charlie||15-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||Sire: Artie Schiller, Dam: Athena's Gift, Dam Sire: Fusaichi Pegasus||50-1|
|8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||Sire: Roman Ruler, Dam: Dynamite Eyes, Dam Sire: Dynaformer||15-1|
|9||Vinceremos||Joe Rocco Jr.||Todd Pletcher||Sire: Pioneerof the Nile, Dam: Kettle's Sister, Dam Sire: More Than Ready||30-1|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||Sire: D'Wildcat, Dam: Racene, Dam Sire: Miner's Mark||15-1|
|11||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||Sire: Two Step Salsa, Dam: Flirting with Fate, Dam Sire: Saint Ballado||20-1|
|12||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||Sire: Henny Hughes, Dam: Sea Gift, Dam Sire: A.P. Indy||20-1|
|13||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||Sire: Dynaformer, Dam: Brisquette, Dam Sire: Unbridled's Song||20-1|
|14||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||Sire: Tapit, Dam: Free Spin, Dam Sire: Olympio||15-1|
|15||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||Sire: Harlan's Holiday, Dam: Intensify, Dam Sire: Unbridled's Song||12-1|
|16||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||Sire: Master Command, Dam: Mother, Dam Sire: Lion Hearted||50-1|
|17||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||Sire: Candy Ride, Dam: She's An Eleven, Dam Sire: In Excess||20-1|
|18||Ride on Curlin||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||Sire: Curlin, Dam: Magical Ride, Dam Sire: Storm Cat||15-1|
|19||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||Sire: Hard Spun, Dam: Moyne Abbey, Dam Sire: Charismatic||6-1|
|20||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||Sire: Giant's Causeway, Dam: One Hot Wish, Dam Sire: Bring the Heat||50-1|
|Odds and info via KentuckyDerby.com.|
California Chrome, 5-2
The odds-on favorite to win the first leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, California Chrome will have to overcome a less-than-stellar pedigree to meet expectations this weekend.
California Chrome is the son of Lucky Pulpit, a sire that experienced only moderate success during his career. Lucky Pulpit placed in a race spanning 8.5 furlongs, but was never able to win a stakes race outside of five furlongs. That's an important fact to consider because the Derby requires horses to cover 10 furlongs.
Much like on his sire side, California Chrome boasts a lot of quality on his dam side. However, the lack of stamina influences are the one concern. The 1 1/4 mile distance at Churchill Downs will present a brand new challenge for every horse in the field, including Art Sherman's California-bred favorite.
Also keep in mind that a California-bred hose hasn't won the Derby since 1962.
But while California Chrome's pedigree isn't the most impressive among the 19-horse field, his starting post and jockey should provide some encouragement for bettors. After all, the No. 5 post has produced eight Derby winners since 1930 and will allow jockey Victor Espinoza an opportunity to get California Chrome into prime position early, as noted by Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde:
What's more, Espinoza rode War Emblem to victory from the fifth post at the 2002 Kentucky Derby.
Therefore, it appears that the pieces are in place for California Chrome to not only challenge, but to continue his outstanding winning streak this weekend at Churchill Downs.
Wicked Strong, 6-1
While California Chrome's pedigree is lacking in the stamina department, Wicked Strong's impressive pedigree suggests the favorite can go the distance on Saturday.
The son of Hard Spun, who finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, and of a dam (Moyne Abbey) sired by 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic, there's a lot to like about Wicked Strong's pedigree, as noted by Horse Racing Nation's Dark Horse:
Overall, the pedigree suggests that Wicked Strong is cut out for the long-distance on dirt.
If there's one reason to doubt Wicked Strong's chances, though, it's the fact he'll be running out of the 19th post this weekend. And while I'll Have Another won out of that post in 2012, he's the only horse to do so in the history of the Derby.
Wicked Strong's trainer, James A. Jerkins, talked about the poor draw on Wednesday, per The New York Times' Joe Drape:
"It might be that the speed is quick and they get to rolling in a clump, and he can draft behind them and it will work out O.K. I’m trying to convince myself that it’s not a bad post, but I don’t know if I can."
So while Wicked Strong's pedigree is awfully encouraging, his unlucky post draw will present a challenge.
As Jerkins points out, it's possible that jockey Rajiv Maragh can navigate his colt through the traffic at the start before falling too far behind, but getting in position before the first turn will be an uphill battle for Wicked Strong and an inability to do so could potentially derail his hopes.
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