California Chrome is getting all the ink this week and a lion’s share of the early money wagered on the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby, but who is next in line in the betting?
After Friday’s advance wagering on-track at Churchill Downs, Danza and Wicked Strong were the co-second choices at 8-1, and bettors had a hard time separating the duo. Just $8 separated the two contenders, with Wicked Strong having the slight edge in the early betting.
According to the latest betting odds released by Oddssshark.com, the two cannot be separated, both also listed at betting odds of 8-1.
Wicked Strong entered the Kentucky Derby picture with a fast closing victory in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 5. The colt drew away to win by 3 ½ lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 104, with California Chrome’s 108 the only runner in the field with a higher last-out number.
The colt did show some promise as a juvenile, running third in the Remsen Stakes (G2) in his first start against winners. The two that beat him that day were Honor Code and Cairo Prince, a couple of talented colts that drew plenty of early Derby betting action last fall.
His first two starts this year did not go as planned, a ninth-place finish in the Holy Bull (G2) and then a fourth-place finish against optional claimers.
The colt comes into the Kentucky Derby very sharp and is in good hands with Jimmy Jerkens, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens.
Danza will be saddled by six-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher, who has had his struggles in the Run for the Roses. Pletcher has started 36 horses in the race, but only Super Saver in 2010 made it to the winner’s circle.
Danza showed some talent last summer in a third-place finish in the Saratoga Special (G2) but was far down the barn’s depth chart. A third-place finish against optional claimers in his three-year-old debut did not place him on the Derby radar, and he was sent off at 41-1 odds for the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on April 13.
Under a confident and handy ride from his jockey Joe Brave, the colt slipped up the rail in the stretch to spring the big upset, drawing away to win by nearly five lengths, returning his backers $84.60 for a $2 wager.
Pletcher will send out three others on Saturday—We Miss Artie, Intense Holiday and Vinceremos—but Danza may be his best shot, at least the bettors think so.