The 2014 Kentucky Derby continues to throw curve balls at everyone awaiting the year's most prestigious race.
On Wednesday, the post positions were announced for the field of 20 horses. The following day, Hoppertunity withdrew from the race due to foot issues, opening the door for Pablo Del Monte to take the 20th position.
Friday brought about another twist when Pablo Del Monte's owners decided not to run the horse in the race, according to Gary Mihoces of USA Today. This shifts the horses in the first 10 post positions out one gate, leaving the dreaded No. 1 post vacant for the race.
This latest shift also altered the race's odds once again. Here's a look at the current lines for this year's Run for the Roses, according to The Baltimore Sun:
|2||Vicar's In Trouble||20-1|
|8||We Miss Artie||50-1|
|9||General A Rod||15-1|
|12||Dance With Fate||20-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||15-1|
Whereas it seemed as though the outside horses would be moving inward after the scratch of Hoppertunity, the opposite has happened with the scratch of Pablo Del Monte.
Now, the horses on the inside have been given a greater advantage, distancing themselves from the dreaded rail by one post each.
This gives the race's favorite California Chrome a fantastic starting position in the sixth post. Danza will benefit as well, moving from the fourth post to the fifth.
Unfortunately for Intense Holiday, the horse's 10-1 odds aren't quite as flattering now due to the move to the 17th post—the only position which has never yielded a Kentucky Derby champion.
Ride On Curlin and Wicked Strong will also go back to their original positions at the 19th and 20th posts, respectively.
Scratch Pablo Del Monte from the Kentucky Derby. Wicked Strong will break from the far outside gate after all.— The Downey Profile (@DowneyProfile) May 2, 2014
These shifts dramatically change the potential outcome of the race.
It appears as though the race is California Chrome's to lose. After his dominating season, starting in a great position only enhances the notion that this horse may be a Triple Crown contender.
Why am I picking California Chrome to win the KY Derby? Because the Derby is kinda like the NFL Draft. http://t.co/aQAUEXycYr— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) May 2, 2014
Wildcat Red's move from the 10th post to the 11th doesn't seem like a huge difference; however, now the horse will have to remain in the gate for a much longer duration, as the first and 11th gates are the first to load.
Even starting outside at the 20th post, Wicked Strong still has what it takes to be a factor. The horse can avoid early traffic and maintain stamina to make a dash to the front during the final stretch.
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
Anything can happen over the course of the race; however, based on current odds and post positions, here's how the top three spots could look at the end of the 2014 Kentucky Derby:
First: California Chrome (5-2)
Second: Danza (8-1)
Third: Wicked Strong (6-1)