Few sporting events in the world are as frenetic and unpredictable as the Kentucky Derby, but that doesn't stop observers from attempting to handicap the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.
The 140th Run for the Roses could very well be one of the most tightly contested races of all time. California Chrome is the preferred betting choice, but a long list of contenders could potentially spoil his Churchill Downs moment. If ever there was a year for a long shot to emerge victorious, this could be it.
In addition to a full listing of the pre-race post positions and betting odds, here are final predictions for how every horse will finish in the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Post Time: Saturday, May 3, at 6:24 p.m. ET
Kentucky Derby Post Positions
|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 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 3
Projected Finishing Order
1. Dance With Fate
Dance With Fate is not considered to be among the top contenders to win the Kentucky Derby by most, but he has all the makings of an upset winner. Dance With Fate won the prestigious Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent race and he has impressed during Derby workouts.
The three-year-old colt will be saddled by experienced jockey Corey Nakatani. Although Nakatani has never won a Kentucky Derby in 16 career tries, his experience should prove beneficial.
According to Marcus Green of WDRB.com, trainer Peter Eurton feels as though Nakatani is a great fit for Dance With Fate.
"Corey is a great money rider. He is a great rider on anything when he puts his mind to it," Eurton said. "He really seems to be super-focused right now. He's having a great year well before I picked him as the rider for the Blue Grass. ... You can't knock having Corey Nakatani on your horse."
When push comes to shove, though, it is up to Dance With Fate to perform on the track. He has proven to be a late closer in recent races, and that should play well on what figures to be a fast track with a torrid opening pace.
Look for Nakatani to push the right buttons and unleash Dance With Fate in the latter stages as he finally earns an elusive Kentucky Derby win.
2. California Chrome
On paper there is no reason why California Chrome shouldn't win this race. He has all the tools to be a Triple Crown contender, and he has the results to back it up. California Chrome has won four consecutive races, three of which have been on dirt tracks. If nothing else, California Chrome should most definitely be near the front as the race nears its conclusion.
The pressure of being the expected winner is something to monitor, though. While the horse won't feel the pressure, jockey Victor Espinoza most definitely will. According to this stat courtesy of ESPN's John Buccigross, heavy favorites such as California Chrome haven't fared well at Churchill Downs over the past 23 years:
California Chrome 5-2 morning line favorite at Kentucky Derby. Of previous 23 ML favs at 5-2 or shorter, only Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 won.— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) May 3, 2014
Trends are obviously made to be broken, but California Chrome isn't as far above the rest of the field as the odds suggest. He will have plenty of tough competition down the stretch and won't likely be able to hang on to the lead.
Who will win the 2014 Kentucky Derby?
3. Intense Holiday
With three straight strong runs on dirt, Intense Holiday has emerged as one of the preferred alternative options to California Chrome. The power combination of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez certainly bolsters Intense Holiday's luster, and it will lead him to a money finish as well.
4. Wildcat Red
In terms of results, Wildcat Red is among the best horses in this field. He has never finished worse than second, and he has elite speed as well. It seems likely that he will be near the front for most of the race, but it remains to be seen how he will handle 10 furlongs. Wildcat Red will have a look at the win, but a late fade will leave him in fourth.
Although he enters the Kentucky Derby with very little hype surrounding him, it is difficult not to be impressed with what he has accomplished. He has won five of his six career races and he finished second to Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial.
Samraat is well-versed when it comes to running on dirt, and that should benefit him during Sunday's race. In addition to that, Claire Novak of BloodHorse.com reports that Samraat looked great during his jogging session:
Samraat has been in the mix near the front of the field in all of his races, and the Kentucky Derby will be no different.
Although Danza is among the least-experienced horses in the Kentucky Derby field, he has the look of a special competitor. He beat out fellow Kentucky Derby contender Ride On Curlin in the Arkansas Derby and has had success on dirt. Danza definitely has a chance to win this thing, but he'll likely fall a bit short.
7. Uncle Sigh
Uncle Sigh only has one win to his credit, but he is one of the most intriguing sleepers in the field. All signs point to him being the one who will set the pace, and while that may not result in a win, it will at least give him an opportunity. He has twice finished second to Samraat in previous races, and he figures to be right around his rival in this one as well.
8. Wicked Strong
The most popular horse among bettors aside from California Chrome appears to be Wicked Strong. His success on dirt and recent victory at the Wood Memorial have observers buzzing, but the luck of the draw, or lack thereof, could ultimately prove costly.
Wicked Strong was unfortunately saddled with one of the worst post positions on the far outside, which means that jockey Rajiv Maragh will have a lot of work to do. Winning from an outside post isn't impossible by any means, but even trainer James Jerkens realizes that it could pose a problem, per Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated:
Wicked Strong trainer Jimmy Jerkens on drawing the 20 post: "I'm trying to convince myself that it's not a bad post position."— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) April 30, 2014
Wicked Strong has speed to burn, so it isn't outside the realm of possibility that he could make a late push and steal a win, but the poor post will prove too much to overcome as the impressive colt will likely post a pedestrian result.
9. Vicar's In Trouble
Under different circumstances, Vicar's In Trouble could very well be the No. 2 betting choice behind California Chrome. Unfortunately for jockey Rosie Napravnik, however, an inside post draw will hamper what she can do. Vicar's In Trouble's talent is obvious after winning the Louisiana Derby over several other Kentucky Derby horses, but the probability of a good trip is quite low.
10. General A Rod
It's tough not to think about disgraced New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez when you see the name General A Rod. Unlike the baseball player, though, this horse flies under the radar. He has never finished worse than third in five career races, but the elevated level of competition will prevent General A Rod from being a factor.
Chitu is somewhat of an unknown with just three races to his credit, but he has managed to win three of them. He has the speed and the makeup to potentially make things interesting; however, his lack of big-race experience will prove costly.
12. Ride On Curlin
On the surface, Ride On Curlin has seemingly everything working in his favor. He was sired by Preakness Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Curlin and will be ridden by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel.
Unfortunately, Ride On Curlin's outside post doesn't play into Borel's strength, per Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:
Ride On Curlin is in No. 19. If Calvin Borel is going to get to the Bo-rail, he's got a long way to go to get inside.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 30, 2014
Since Borel is likely to struggle when it comes to finding his preferred spot on the rail, it will be tough for Ride On Curlin to compete.
Tapiture was starting to look like a definite threat to challenge in the Kentucky Derby after wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and Southwest Stakes, but a disappointing showing in the Arkansas Derby has made him an afterthought. Tapiture only mustered a fourth-place finish, and that doesn't bode well for his chances to sticking with the elite horses in this one.
14. Candy Boy
Candy Boy is among those who have benefited from the withdrawal of Hoppertunity as bettors started to look for picks other than California Chrome. Candy Boy finished behind the aforementioned horses in the Santa Anita Derby, but he acquitted himself quite well. Although the presence of three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Gary Stevens makes Candy Boy an interesting pick, he hasn't proven capable of beating the very best.
15. We Miss Artie
With a win in the Spiral Stakes under his belt, We Miss Artie enters the Kentucky Derby with momentum on his side. His performances on dirt have not been good, however, and trainer Todd Pletcher wasn't happy with his workouts, according to HRTV:
Pletcher said We Miss Artie's work in company with Intense Holiday was "subpar" and will discuss Derby status with owner Ken Ramsey.— HRTV (@HRTVinsider) April 27, 2014
We Miss Artie simply doesn't seem to have a great feel for the surface, and that will ultimately prevent him from having a strong run.
16. Medal Count
Lost in Dance With Fate's win in the Blue Grass Stakes was Medal Count's solid second-place run. There is a massive elephant in the room as it relates to his Kentucky Derby viability, though. Medal Count has never finished better than fifth on dirt, which obviously doesn't inspire much confidence in him at Churchill Downs.
Vinceremos seemed to have something with two wins and two places in his first four starts. Unfortunately, things went terribly wrong in the Blue Grass Stakes. Vinceremos could only muster an awful 14th-place finish, and there is very little chance of him making some noise in the Kentucky Derby.
18. Harry's Holiday
Much like Vinceremos, Harry's Holiday was a non-factor in the Blue Grass Stakes, which was his final race prior to the Derby. Harry's Holiday finished 13th in that race, and having not won since December, he will most likely end up near the back of the field.
19. Commanding Curve
Commanding Curve looks to be the worst horse in the Kentucky Derby field statistically. Some bettors might be tricked into taking a chance on him due to the fact that he has run three times at Churchill Downs and has even won there, but he'll be in for a rude awakening against higher-caliber opponents.
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