There are tons of different factors that can come into play during a horse race with weather being chief among them. Poor weather has wreaked havoc on the Kentucky Derby in the past, but all signs point toward a delightful day for racing fans this year.
It is also important to note that while the horses are the ones who ultimately decide what happens on the track, jockeys have a major impact as well. Certain jockeys just know how to win big races such as the Run for the Roses, so bettors will pay particularly close attention to whom the horses are being guided by.
With that in mind, here is a complete rundown for everything you need to know about the 140th Kentucky Derby, including the latest weather forecast, odds, jockey information and much more.
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Post Time: Saturday, May 3 at 6:24 p.m. ET
Some of the longer shots in the Kentucky Derby might have benefited from a sloppy track, but the conditions look to be nearly ideal at Churchill Downs for Saturday's slate of races.
According to Weather.com, a high temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit is expected for the day with just a 10 percent chance of rain. The potential precipitation doesn't figure to occur at any point past 9 a.m. ET, per Weather.com's hourly forecast, which means that the dirt should be in perfect condition by post time even if there is a bit of rain earlier in the day.
The great forecast has plenty of people excited, including Kentucky lieutenant governor Jerry Abramson:
Not only is the fine weather good for the race itself, but it is also a positive in terms of the safety of the horses and jockeys. Messy tracks can create some dangerous situations, but luckily that shouldn't be an issue this year.
With everyone on a level playing field, the best horse should ultimately win.
Odds and Jockey Info
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||25-1|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||50-1|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||35-1|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||21-10|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||16-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||33-1|
|8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||18-1|
|9||Vinceremos||Joe Rocco Jr.||Todd Pletecher||50-1|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||18-1|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||SCR|
|12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||14-1|
|13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||22-1|
|14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||22-1|
|15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||20-1|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||33-1|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||18-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||18-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||8-1|
|21||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||SCR|
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
*Odds current as of 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 3.
Top Jockeys to Watch
At 41 years of age, it can be argued that Victor Espinoza is on the downside of his career, but his winning experience in big races could prove to be a huge factor in the Kentucky Derby. Espinoza will mount the betting favorite, California Chrome, and his savvy riding will only add to the likelihood of California Chrome coming out on top.
Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby back in 2002 aboard War Emblem, and he won the Preakness that year as well. Although it has been well over a decade since Espinoza last won an American classic race, his overwhelming success on dirt bodes well for his chances this year, especially with such a great horse under him.
According to Doug Salvatore of BloodHorse.com, Espinoza has been great on dirt over the past 16 years, and he has even outperformed a renowned dirt jockey in John Velazquez:
If you bet $100 on every Victor Espinoza mount in a dirt route since '98, you'd be up $12,165. Do the same with John Velazquez, down $61,387— Doug Salvatore (@DougieSal) April 26, 2014
Most of the money figures to flow in the direction of Espinoza and California Chrome. Based on Espinoza's track record on dirt, that is an extremely smart bet. Espinoza will have somewhat of a challenge on his hands starting near the inside, but he has proved that he has the capability to handle it.
Along with Gary Stevens, Calvin Borel is the most successful Kentucky Derby jockey scheduled to run in Saturday's race. As seen in this photo courtesy of WLKY.com's Lexy Scheen, Borel has conquered the fastest two minutes in sports on three occasions:
Borel won the race in both 2009 and 2010 aboard Mine That Bird and Super Saver, respectively. His victory with Mine That Bird was one of the most shocking in recent memory, and it showed that Borel's aggressive and unorthodox style can make a winner out of even the biggest underdogs.
He will ride one of the many horses considered contenders in the 2014 race when he saddles Ride On Curlin. One thing that Borel must combat, though, is an unfavorable post position.
Borel loves to bring his horse to the inside along the rail before making a late push, but he will start in the No. 19 spot, per TVG:
Calvin Borel is on Ride On Curlin in the #KYDerby. He's in post 19, a far way from the rail!— TVG (@TVG) April 30, 2014
That doesn't necessarily disqualify Borel from winning, but there is no doubt that it will make his desired goal much tougher.
If every trainer and owner had their pick of the litter in terms of who would ride their horse in the Kentucky Derby, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that John Velazquez would be the most common selection. Not only did he win the Kentucky Derby in 2011, but his big-race resume as a whole is incredible.
Velazquez has won the Preakness Stakes twice, and he has an impressive 11 Breeders' Cup wins under his belt as well. Velazquez is a true champion, and he has a legitimate chance to come out on top at Churchill Downs aboard trainer Todd Pletcher's Intense Holiday.
Which jockey will have the best finish in the 2014 Kentucky Derby?
Intense Holiday is among a handful of horses that are considered true threats to knock off California Chrome. Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing, which owns Intense Holiday, believes that Velazquez's presence is a major coup for his horse, according to Tim Wilkin of SFGate.com.
"I think it's fantastic that we have Johnny on the horse," Wolf said. "I think Johnny moves the horse up."
Intense Holiday has seemingly been gaining some steam among the betting public, and Velazquez likely has something to do with that. If Velazquez's past successes in big races are any indication, he should help Intense Holiday contend.
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