The 2014 Kentucky Derby will come and go in a flash Saturday evening as the 19-horse field at Churchill Downs kicks off the most exciting two minutes in sports.
Topflight thoroughbreds like California Chrome, Danza and Wicked Strong have emerged as favorites ahead of the 140th Run for the Roses, but recent history tells us that anything is possible in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Two years ago, I'll Have Another became the first horse to ever win the Derby from post No. 19. What will the storyline be in 2014?
Below, we'll get you set with everything you need to know for a Saturday full of horse racing.
Date: Saturday, May 3
Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET
Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Date||Event||Post Time (ET)|
|Sat, May 3||Race 1||10:30 a.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Race 2||11:01 a.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Race 3||11:31 a.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Race 4||12:04 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Race 5||12:38 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes||1:19 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Grade I Humana Distaff Stakes||2:08 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Grade II American Turf Stakes||2:59 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes||3:46 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes||4:44 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Grade I Kentucky Derby||6:24 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Race 12||7:20 p.m.|
|Sat, May 3||Race 13||7:50 p.m.|
*Click here to view entries and odds for undercard races via Equibase.com.
|2||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||25-1|
|3||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||66-1|
|4||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||33-1|
|5||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|6||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||11-4|
|7||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||18-1|
|8||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||40-1|
|9||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||18-1|
|10||Vinceremos||Joe Rocco Jr.||Todd Pletcher||50-1|
|11||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||16-1|
|scratched||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||Billy Gowan||20-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens||10-1|
|scratched||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||scratched|
Odds via Oddsshark.com
2014 Kentucky Derby Predictions
Following the withdrawals of Hoppertunity and Pablo Del Monte, the Derby field has been narrowed to 19 horses. As a result, the biggest winners are Vicar's in Trouble and jockey Rosie Napravnik, who will run from post No. 2 now instead of No. 1 right alongside the rail, per the Kentucky Derby's official Twitter account:
With scratch of Hoppertunity, all horses in posts 1-10 will move out one spot in #KyDerby starting gate, per steward Barbara Borden.— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 2, 2014
The adjustment has improved the horse's odds, but California Chrome, Danza and Wicked Strong remain the favorites to conquer the Triple Crown's first leg.
Still, this is the Kentucky Derby, where the 10 furlongs have a way of producing surprising results. Therefore, look for a dark horse like General A Rod to win Saturday.
As Derbyologist.com's Craig J. notes, General A Rod is a legitimate contender:
General A Rod is no Rabbit, he is a legit top 8 contender to win the race.— CraigJ (@Derbyologist) April 28, 2014
Jockeyed by 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Joel Rosario, who rode Orb to victory from the 16th post, General A Rod turned in encouraging performances at the Grade I Florida Derby and Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes in his previous two outings.
Plus, he'll start toward the middle of the pack, giving him a shot to fall into a favorable position early.
He was slated to run from post No. 8, which has produced eight Derby winners since 1930, including Mine That Bird in 2009. However, General A Rod will shift to post No. 9 as a result of Pablo Del Monte's scratch. Historically, that post hasn't been nearly as successful, but the change is unlikely to impact his chances.
General A Rod's pedigree, which features several strong stamina influences, is a big reason why some like him to surprise people this weekend.
As already mentioned, Danza is also a contender to keep an eye out for Saturday. He won the Grade I Arkansas Derby less than a month ago and is trained by 2010 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
Danza's exercise rider, Nick Bush, pointed out that the horse appears extremely fresh and energized ahead of Saturday's race, per The Courier-Journal's Jeff Greer: "It feels like I'm on air out there. It's so smooth. He's really bouncing."
Watch for Danza to run well Saturday and ultimately place second.
While many are picking odds-on favorite California Chrome to win this weekend, his modest pedigree lacks the stamina influences you'd like to see for a race of this distance. Still, there's no denying his ability, and, having won four consecutive races, it's safe to bet that the California-bred colt will manage to finish in the money.
And if California Chrome wins Saturday, you'll be looking at a Triple Crown contender heading to the Preakness Stakes.
For Wicked Strong, the concern is his starting slot. Post No. 20 presents an obvious challenge, as jockey Rajiv Maragh will have to navigate the favorite from way outside without losing too much ground heading into the first turn.
If Maragh and Wicked Strong are able to file in without falling too far behind, the drama will only increase as the field makes its way onto the backstretch.
Final Prediction—Win: General A Rod, Place: Danza, Show: California Chrome
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