Unfortunately for horse racing fans, the dominant storylines in the days leading up to the 2014 Kentucky Derby have been about which horses aren’t running.
The Kentucky Derby Twitter page and the L.A. Daily News pointed out that both Hoppertunity and Pablo Del Monte will miss the race Saturday:
Trainer Bob Baffert reports Hoppertunity (left front hoof) will bypass Saturday's #KyDerby & will be examined later today in Lexington.— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 1, 2014
Pablo Del Monte out, reducing Kentucky Derby field to 19 http://t.co/BbV3BNZQLr— L.A. Daily News (@ladailynews) May 2, 2014
Given the attrition before the actual Run for the Roses, it is interesting to keep an eye on the betting lines. With that in mind, here is a look at the odds as of Friday, May 2, according to Odds Shark:
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||25-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||33-1|
|8||General A Rod||18-1|
|12||Dance With Fate||14-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||18-1|
|21||Pablo Del Monte||scratched|
Now we know what the odds are, let’s dig into a few predictions as the race approaches.
California Chrome Will Race to Victory
California Chrome was already the best horse in the field, and there is even a better chance he will win now that Hoppertunity isn’t running.
What place will California Chrome finish?
California Chrome comes to Churchill Downs with four straight dominant victories, and Hoppertunity was seen as one of the only competitors in the field who could challenge him. Throw that on top of the fact that Wicked Strong is starting from an outside gate, and the coast seems fairly clear for the favorite.
Trainer Art Sherman seemed to be particularly pleased with California Chrome’s No. 5 posting, via Jennie Rees of The Courier-Jorunal: "That's good enough for me. I think it's a perfect spot. I was thinking Swaps had 7, so we're not too far away. If we break clean, he'll get out of trouble. He's got a little gas leaving there, too."
California Chrome won’t have to deal with one of his main competitors, has a solid posting and is an experienced racer. That combination will lead to victory Saturday.
Wicked Strong Will Make a Late Charge
There is no getting around the fact that Wicked Strong received a less-than-ideal post position, but he came from behind in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and could certainly do so again in the Derby.
In fact, Wicked Strong was in fourth place heading into the stretch run and then turned on the jets to catch and pass the top three.
Wicked Strong will start near the middle or even the back of the pack given his posting position, but he has proven himself in the comeback department. Expect another similar charge in the stretch run at Churchill Downs, but it will ultimately not be enough to catch the formidable California Chrome.
The Inside Post Will Prove Costly for Vicar’s In Trouble
Vicar’s In Trouble is bound to make headlines at the Derby because Rosie Napravnik is trying to become the first-ever female jockey to win horse racing’s most prestigious event.
However, Vicar’s In Trouble drew the dreaded No. 1 posting. With such a crowded field, it will be very difficult to emerge from the rail and eventually come away with the win.
On the positive side, Napravnik is a regular rider of Vicar’s In Trouble, and the horse won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby recently. However, there is simply too much talent in the field for Vicar’s In Trouble to overcome both the other horses and the unfortunate posting position.