The 2014 Kentucky Derby is going to be one of the most exciting horse races of the year but also one of the toughest for both casual fans and regular handicappers to turn a profit on.
Because there are so many capable horses in the field, many with limited experience, it seems that just about every single one is capable of coming away with a victory Saturday.
While there are some who have separated from the pack due to their blazing speed or notable victories in respected races leading up to this event, it’s worth getting familiar with each contender, their jockey, the trainer and the current odds.
Keep reading to find all of that information out, plus some advice for betting on the big race this weekend and much more.
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||20-1|
|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||8-1|
|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 Rocco Jr.||Todd Pletecher||30-1|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||15-1|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||SCR|
|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||8-1|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||50-1|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||15-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||15-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||6-1|
|21||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||SCR|
|Race||Post Time (ET)|
|Churchill Distaff Turf Mile||1:19 p.m.|
|Humana Distaff||2:08 p.m.|
|American Turf||2:59 p.m.|
|Churchill Downs||3:46 p.m.|
|Woodford Reserve Turf Classic||4:44 p.m.|
|Kentucky Derby||6:24 p.m.|
Best Contender to Back: Wicked Strong at 8-1
Wicked Strong just has the look of a Triple Crown contender. He possesses the strength, pure speed and endurance to burst past the 19 other horses in the field and stay ahead once he gains the advantage.
While 10 furlongs is certainly not a quick sprint, Wicked Strong will make it look easy due to his powerful frame and big strides. The Kentucky Derby’s official Twitter account gave some insight into his workout times:
Earlier, Wicked Strong during gallop was caught on the clock going his last 1/4 in :24 & last 3/8s in :36.60. #KyDerby— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 1, 2014
There’s also the matter of fate, as this colt appears to be destined to accomplish big things. Owner Don Little Jr. told Jacqueline Tempera of The Boston Globe that the three-year-old was renamed in honor of the Boston Marathon victims and believes destiny has taken his horse here:
"Absolutely, totally, I believe in fate," Little said. "There are things we don’t have control of, that are bringing us good energy. ... I truly believe this is meant to be. Too many coincidences have aligned."
One of those coincidences is Wicked Strong’s victory at Wood Memorial, one of the most prestigious warm-up races leading into the Derby. It was his maiden victory and is a great sign of things to come.
Eleven horses have gone on to win the blanket of roses after claiming a win at the Wood with four going on to win Triple Crown titles.
It is far too early to start talking about Wicked Strong’s chance of pulling that feat off, but he’s well worth a bet at Churchill and should be given heavy consideration at 8-1 or anywhere near those odds.
Contender to Watch For: Ride on Curlin at 15-1
Many early backers were hoping Ride on Curlin would draw a spot close to the rail, but starting in the No. 19 stall should not significantly lower this horse’s chances of winning this event.
Jockey Calvin Borel has a trio of Kentucky Derby victories under his belt and is looking to add a fourth Saturday. He seems to have the right mount to accomplish that lofty goal, even if he’ll have to work his way over to get his signature position along the rail.
Mike Welsch of Daily Racing Form posted some of Curlin’s blazing workout speeds:
Ride On Curlin 7F from the 6 furlong pole 1:28.98 under strong handling to finish, final 3/8's 37.13— Mike Welsch (@DRFWelsch) April 27, 2014
How will Ride on Curlin finish?
While Ride on Curlin has only won two of the whopping nine races he participated in leading up to the Run for the Roses, he’s still an excellent bet. The colt never finished worst than fourth and is assuredly going to make the finish exciting at the Kentucky Derby.
Given that only five of the last 33 Derby winners have been favorites, it would be smart to sprinkle some longer shot bets in like this.
While the masses might be disappointed if the favorite loses, you should be elated if Borel can ride the rail to victory aboard Curlin.