Kentucky Derby 2014: Predictions for All Horses After Latest Weather Forecast

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2014

Trainer Gary Contessa pets Kentucky Derby entrant Uncle Sigh as they school in the paddock at Churchill Downs Friday, May 2, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)
Garry Jones/Associated Press

R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe once asked, "Should we talk about the weather?" Of course we should—the Kentucky Derby is upon us.

Much like any other outdoor sporting event, the weather will play a major role in this year's race. So, what conditions can you expect?

A fast track appears likely. According to Weather.com, Churchill Downs should be precipitation-free Saturday, with the temperature at race time settling in at about 71 degree Fahrenheit and sunny skies expected. Despite storms earlier in the week, the weather has calmed well in time for race day.

That should play very well for those horses who are fast on a dry dirt track. For those that prefer running in the muck—or perhaps more accurately, benefit from other horses struggling in the muck—well, that forecast won't be so favorable.

But who are these horses? And, more importantly, where am I predicting them to finish?

Ask and ye shall receive.

Kentucky Derby Participants
PostHorseOwner(s)TrainerJockeyOddsPrediction
1Vicar's In TroubleKenneth L. and Sarah K. RamseyMike MakerRosie Napravnik20-111
2Harry's HolidaySkychai Racing LLC, Sand Dollar Stable, LLC, Terry Raymond & Jana WagnerMike MakerCorey Lanerie50-117
3Uncle SighWounded Warrior Stables & Anthony C. RobertsonGary ContessaIrad Ortiz Jr.30-115
4DanzaEclipse Thoroughbred PartnersTodd PletcherJoe Bravo8-13
5California ChromeSteve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise MartinArt ShermanVictor Espinoza5-21
6SamraatMy Meadowview FarmRick Violette Jr.Jose Ortiz15-16
7We Miss ArtieKenneth L. and Sarah K. RamseyTodd PletcherJavier Castellano50-119
8General A RodStarlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLCMike MakerJoel Rosario15-114
9VinceremosWinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks RacingTodd PletcherJoe Rococo Jr.30-118
10Wildcat RedHonors Stable Corp.Jose GaroffaloLuis Saez15-1
11Hoppertunity (SCRATCHED)16
12Dance With FateS. Alesia, Bran Jam Stable & Ciaglia Racing, LLCPeter EurtonCorey Nakatani20-19
13ChituTanma CorporationBob BaffertMartin Garcia20-110
14Medal CountSpendthrift FarmDale RomansRobby Albarado20-14
15TapitureWinchell ThoroughbredsSteve AsmussenRicardo Santana Jr.12-18
16Intense HolidayStarlight RacingTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez8-15
17Commanding CurveWest Point ThoroughbredsDallas StewartShaun Bridgmohan50-112
18Candy BoyC R K Stable LLCJohn SadlerGary Stevens15-113
19Ride On CurlinDaniel J. DoughertyWilliam G. GowanCalvin Borel15-17
20Wicked StrongCentennial FarmsJames A. JerkensRajiv Maragh6-12
21Pablo Del Monte (SCRATCHED)21Pablo Del Monte (SCRATCHED)
KentuckyDerby.com

Some horses run better on different surfaces (We Miss Artie, Dance With Fate and Harry's Holiday come to mind). And some horses prefer a slower track. John Sutton of NJ.com thinks Medal Count is one of those horses, noting, "He hasn’t proven he has that same closing kick on the dirt. The weather forecast calls for a fast track, which has been his downfall."

Adjusting to a dirt track is a big deal for many of these horses. Dance With Fate, for instance, has only run three times on dirt. But as his trainer, Peter Eurton, told Gary B. Graves of The Associated Press, via CountOn2.com, he isn't particularly worried:

I believe there are horses for courses, that old saying goes. But he's amazingly aggressive and nothing really bothers him. I didn't think there'd be a big process of him getting used to it. 

I just hoped he liked it like other tracks we've shipped him to. I don't think he'll have a problem.

It is important to note that Dance With Fate has been a runner-up twice on dirt. Perhaps worries about how he'll handle the surface are misguided.

Meanwhile, a fast track probably favors race favorite California Chrome, one of the reasons he's my favorite. Of course, in the interest of being fair and balanced, I present a dissenting viewpoint on CC's chances, via Chris Fallica of ESPN Stats & Information:

While 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman winning the Derby with the Cal-bred would be a great human interest story, recent history says backing short-priced favorites is not the way to go. Since 1980, there have been 23 favorites made 5-2 or shorter on the morning line, with California Chrome being the 24th. Of the previous 23, only Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 won the race. The last time a horse was made 5-2 on the morning line was 2005 when Bellamy Road was favored and finished seventh behind 50-1 shot Giacomo. 

As the old saying goes, trends were made to be broken. That's how the saying goes, right?

It would appear that the weather won't be a major factor in the running of this year's Derby. Unfortunately, that means it will be a huge factor for the trainers, jockeys and horses that would have preferred a slower, muckier track.