The wait for the actual race on Saturday can be excruciating. Nothing is ever quite as long as Kentucky Derby day, but one of the fun ways to pass the time is to see how the betting has changed the odds and make predictions for yourself.
So, let's do just that.
We start with the general information, including post positions, up-to-date odds and my own personal predictions for the entire field.
|Kentucky Derby Participants|
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey||Mike Maker||Rosie Napravnik||20-1||11|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Skychai Racing LLC, Sand Dollar Stable, LLC, Terry Raymond & Jana Wagner||Mike Maker||Corey Lanerie||38-1||17|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Wounded Warrior Stables & Anthony C. Robertson||Gary Contessa||Irad Ortiz Jr.||26-1||15|
|4||Danza||Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners||Todd Pletcher||Joe Bravo||9-1||3|
|5||California Chrome||Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin||Art Sherman||Victor Espinoza||2-1||1|
|6||Samraat||My Meadowview Farm||Rick Violette Jr.||Jose Ortiz||14-1||6|
|7||We Miss Artie||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey||Todd Pletcher||Javier Castellano||22-1||19|
|8||General A Rod||Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLC||Mike Maker||Joel Rosario||29-1||14|
|9||Vinceremos||WinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks Racing||Todd Pletcher||Joe Rococo Jr.||50-1||18|
|10||Wildcat Red||Honors Stable Corp.||Jose Garoffalo||Luis Saez||16-1||16|
|12||Dance With Fate||S. Alesia, Bran Jam Stable & Ciaglia Racing, LLC||Peter Eurton||Corey Nakatani||14-1||9|
|13||Chitu||Tanma Corporation||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||26-1||10|
|14||Medal Count||Spendthrift Farm||Dale Romans||Robby Albarado||23-1||4|
|15||Tapiture||Winchell Thoroughbreds||Steve Asmussen||Ricardo Santana Jr.||38-1||8|
|16||Intense Holiday||Starlight Racing||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||14-1||5|
|17||Commanding Curve||West Point Thoroughbreds||Dallas Stewart||Shaun Bridgmohan||31-1||12|
|18||Candy Boy||C R K Stable LLC||John Sadler||Gary Stevens||16-1||13|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Daniel J. Dougherty||William G. Gowan||Calvin Borel||15-1||7|
|20||Wicked Strong||Centennial Farms||James A. Jerkens||Rajiv Maragh||7-1||2|
|21||Pablo Del Monte (SCRATCHED)||21||Pablo Del Monte (SCRATCHED)|
As you can see, California Chrome has become the overwhelming favorite as the Derby nears, to nobody's surprise. If you've had misgivings about the race favorite, allow Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated to allay them.
I'm picking him because his last two races—the Santa Anita Derby and, before that, a 7 1/4-length win in the San Felipe Stakes—are by a wide margin the two most impressive races by any three-year-old colt in America.
I'm picking him because I believe that he can repeat those performances on Saturday evening in the Derby, against horses that are simply athletically inferior. I'm betting on talent. The track? Chrome has been getting better with each day and he'll be plenty comfortable with the Churchill dirt by Saturday, when it's traditionally lightning fast. Traffic? [Victor] Espinoza has been planning for the unexpected since he first got on the colt's back in December. The jockey took him back and circled the field in the California Cup Derby in December, and then purposely put him on the lead in the San Felipe.
"I wanted to try different things with him," says Espinoza. "I know that sounds crazy, but I wanted to see what he could do. And he can do anything."
It certainly seems that way. Now all he has to do is prove he can live up to enormous expectations. If the Triple Crown were Star Wars, well, California Chrome would be Obi-Wan Kenobi, because he truly is our only hope.
Some horses have been ignored enough that they've seen their odds made more favorable while others have been bet on enough that you won't be getting a bargain on them now. We Miss Artie has apparently become a popular sleeper choice for folks, as he went from 50-1 odds Friday to 22-1 Saturday morning.
Perhaps folks think they've identified this year's Orb. We shall see.
People have steered far clear of the horse next to him, meanwhile, as General a Rod came in at 15-1 odds and is now settling at 29-1. Dance With Fate has been bet down to 14-1 odds from 20-1, while Tapiture doesn't seem very popular, going from 12-1 to 38-1.
ESPN Insider Lane Gold is surprised by that change:
He keeps floating, apparently.
Intense Holiday has also floated up to 14-1 odds from 8-1, while Commanding Curve is another long shot that people seem to like (31-1 now after opening at 50-1).
Personally, much like Layden, I think California Chrome is going to live up to the hype. You can take all of the factors into account you want, but at the end of the day, talent has to count for something, and CC is unquestionably the most talented horse in this field.
I think Wicked Strong is going to make things tight down the stretch but just won't have quite enough of a final kick to catch CC. Danza will be in the running but will be slightly outclassed and finish third. Deep closer Medal Count will end up in fourth.
Turns out, Mr. Layden and I agree completely on the results of this race. We'll see if we're right.