The 140th Kentucky Derby takes top precedent at Churchill Downs this weekend. Yet it's not the only race set to take place in Louisville during horse racing's grandest spectacle of the year.
Those in attendance will enjoy two days of festivities on Friday and Saturday. Friday's coverage began at 9:30 a.m. ET on HRTV and will culminate with the top fillies competing in the Kentucky Oaks at approximately 5:45 p.m.
On Saturday, a packed undercard will be on display from 11 a.m. ET to 4 p.m on NBC Sports Network.
All of those races lead up to the big one, the Run for the Roses. A stacked lineup of 19 horses, led by favorite California Chrome, sets us up for an exhilarating two-minute rush. Out of the 13 races for Saturday, the Kentucky Derby is the one that will undoubtedly catch the public's eye the most.
|2014 Kentucky Derby Lineup|
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||25-1|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||66-1|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||33-1|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||11-4|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||18-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||40-1|
|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||16-1|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||SCRATCHED|
|12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||22-1|
|13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||28-1|
|14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||25-1|
|15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||18-1|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||14-1|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||40-1|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||25-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||20-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||10-1|
|21||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||SCRATCHED|
|Odds courtesy of Oddsshark|
Odds, courtesy of Odds Shark, as of 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, May 2
Kentucky Derby Lineup Analysis
First, let's acknowledge those who will no longer join us for the first leg of the Triple Crown. On Thursday morning, trainer Bob Baffert told The Blood-Horse's Esther Marr that Hoppertunity, one of the field's top early contenders, will no longer participate due to injury.
Jockey Mike Smith did not respond positively to the news, per Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden.
His replacement, Pablo Del Monte, is also out of commission as a last-second scratch, which lowers the lineup card from 20 to 19 horses.
Even before Hoppertunity's scratch, California Chrome was the odds-on favorite to steal the show on Saturday. That leaves one less challenger for Art Sherman's star, who has crushed the competition en route to the grand stage at Churchill Downs.
He is undefeated in his last four races, including a runaway victory at the Santa Anita Derby by 5 1/4 lengths. The resounding win on the dirt course has put all other competitors on notice heading into Saturday.
But as Los Alamitos announcer Ed Burgart noted, California Chrome has succeeded regardless of the course.
With Hoppertunity sidelined, Intense Holiday has a chance to step up as one of the main contenders. According to Equibase, Todd Pletcher is the most profitable trainer of 2014. John Velazquez also brings an experienced jockey to the saddle for a colt with three straight top-three finishes.
General A Rod, no relation to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, has not placed lower than third place in any of his five events. While he lacks the burst to break through with a major victory, he's worth a look for exotic bettors.
Samraat doesn't receive enough attention as a major threat, but he has earned five first-place finishes while settling for second once in six events. Trainer Rick Violette Jr. is looking at that one defeat as a positive, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader's Alicia Wincze Hughes that he gained valuable experience handling a tough starting post position.
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 7 1/2 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.
It's a loaded lineup, and we've seen before that the odds don't always mean an accurate forecasting at Churchill Downs. Leading into the big race, it's anyone's game.