With horses dropping out, odds fluctuating wildly and other unpredictable happenings occurring during the lead-up to the 140th Kentucky Derby, it's fair to say that this Run for the Roses will be one to remember.
Although odds-on favorite California Chrome has stood out above the rest of the field thus far, there are plenty of secondary contenders with the ability to usurp him. In fact, it is difficult to remember a Kentucky Derby that felt as wide open as the 2014 edition does.
With handicappers across the nation and the world attempting to make heads or tails of the situation, here is a look at the full entry list and the latest odds along with final winning predictions.
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 3
Post Positions and Odds
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||20-1|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||50-1|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||30-1|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||5-2|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||15-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||50-1|
|8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||15-1|
|9||Vinceremos||Joe Rocco Jr.||Todd Pletecher||30-1|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||15-1|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||SCR|
|12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||20-1|
|13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||20-1|
|14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||20-1|
|15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||12-1|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||50-1|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||15-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||15-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||6-1|
|21||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||SCR|
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
*Odds current as of 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 3.
Win: Dance with Fate
Although few horses enjoyed more success than Dance with Fate entering the Kentucky Derby, he hasn't often been mentioned among the potential winners of the race. Based on his current form and his work at Churchill Downs, though, it is tough to understand why Dance with Fate isn't receiving the respect he so richly deserves.
In addition to an ideal post position at No. 12, Dance with Fate comes into the Kentucky Derby with momentum on his side. He scored a hugely impressive win in the Blue Grass Stakes and placed second in the earlier El Camino Real Derby. Perhaps his most impressive feat, though, is finishing ahead of Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome in the Del Mar Futurity last September.
Despite the fact that Dance with Fate has yet to win a race on dirt in two tries, there is reason for optimism when it comes to his Derby chances. According to Larry Zap of Race and Sports Radio 1090 AM in San Diego, Dance with Fate worked out in spectacular fashion:
Perhaps the advanced statistics don't favor Dance with Fate, but he certainly passes the eye test. Everything seems to be coming together at precisely the right time for Dance with Fate, and he has the look of a winner as long as jockey Corey Nakatani finds the ideal line.
Place: California Chrome
The consensus seems to be that California Chrome is the best horse in this field. With four consecutive victories to his credit, including a dream run in the Santa Anita Derby, it is difficult to argue with that notion. As anyone who follows the sport closely knows, however, the best and most talented horse doesn't always win.
There are so many factors that impact a race, and some are out of the horse's control. California Chrome is unquestionably good enough to get to the front and vie for the win, but the mass chaos of the Derby field guarantees nothing. He'll have to stave off some late chargers, and Dance with Fate figures to be among them.
Which horse is most likely to win the 2014 Kentucky Derby?
While California Chrome's odds of winning the Kentucky Derby are excellent, owner Steve Coburn realizes that he beat the odds when he found a horse of California Chrome's caliber, per KCRA.com.
"He's like a dream come true," Coburn said. "Some people go all their life trying to find a horse that can make it to the Kentucky Derby, and we did it with our first horse. Living in Nevada, an odds-making state, I don't know what the odds are of that happening, maybe one in a trillion?"
The odds are unquestionably in California Chrome's favor in terms of winning the Kentucky Derby, but with so many other hungry horses in the field, he will fall agonizingly short of the ultimate goal.
Show: Intense Holiday
With four horses in the Kentucky Derby field, trainer Todd Pletcher has to feel pretty good about his chances. Although Danza initially looked like Pletcher's best bet to come out on top, Intense Holiday has emerged in recent days to become a darling in the eyes of the betting public.
The fact that Intense Holiday has three consecutive top-three finishes entering the race is encouraging, as is his vast experience on dirt tracks. Several horses in the field are novices on the surface, but Intense Holiday has run on dirt often and with plenty of success.
With that in mind, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that Intense Holiday has looked great in his pre-race work at Churchill Downs. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Pletcher has been thoroughly impressed with Intense Holiday's form:
Todd Pletcher says can't recall Intense Holiday ever working better than today. Said that We Miss Artie had his worst work ever on dirt.— horseracinghl (@horseracinghl) April 27, 2014
All signs point to Intense Holiday being in the mix, but he isn't the greatest finisher with just two career victories. Even though Intense Holiday may not come out on top, he is a very safe selection to add to the back end of your trifecta.
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