Mint juleps, big hats and bigger money make up a large chunk of the spectacle surrounding the Kentucky Derby, but all eyes will be on the horses as they Run for the Roses. Here is all the information you need to know about the participants—namely the post positions and most up-to-date odds.
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 3
Where to Watch (TV): NBC
Where to Watch (Live Stream): NBC Sports Live Extra
|2014 Kentucky Derby Positions & Odds|
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||20-1|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||38-1|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||27-1|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||9-1|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||2-1|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||14-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||22-1|
|8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||29-1|
|9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher||50-1|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||16-1|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||Scratched|
|12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||14-1|
|13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||26-2|
|14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||23-1|
|15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||38-1|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||14-1|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||31-1|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||16-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan||15-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens||7-1|
|21||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||Scratched|
|Odds via KentuckyDerby.com|
Horses to Keep an Eye On
California Chrome (2-1)
California Chrome is the clear favorite in the field, according to Vegas, and his recent form greatly supports that line of thinking. The California-bred horse has won four consecutive races in spectacular fashion—by a combined total of 24 1/4 lengths.
The most recent triumph came in the Santa Anita Derby, where California Chrome eased to victory, complete with a Usain Bolt-like stroll across the finish line because he was so far ahead of the pack.
His jockey, Victor Espinoza, has experience at Churchill Downs and won on the back of War Emblem in 2002—from the same No. 5 post he will be starting from Saturday night.
California Chrome has the form of a favorite, but his versatility also bodes well for him. Over his last four wins, we’ve seen him go wire-to-wire in the lead (San Felipe) and come from behind with that tremendous closing speed (California Cup Derby).
Espinoza has been purposely varying his tactics, according to Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated:
"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."
The Derby is a race where anything can happen and where favorites have historically not done as well as was initially predicted. Regardless, California Chrome has given us no reason to doubt the odds and will definitely be in the hunt as the horses gallop into the home stretch.
Wildcat Red (16-1)
The aforementioned favorite looks to be in a league of his own in the Run for the Roses, but there are a cluster of horses with similar odds. At least one of the horses is a good bet to wind up in the winner’s circle, and my money is on Wildcat Red.
There are two reasons for my faith: post position and a history of always being in the mix near the finish line.
Wildcat Red will be starting from post No. 10, the winningest starting position since the traditional starting gate was introduced in 1930. Coming out of the gates in the middle of the pack will allow jockey Luis Saez to get to the rail early—especially considering the strong starting speed of his horse (he ran the first furlong in 13.5 seconds during his "last real work").
According to Frank Angst of BloodHorse.com (via ESPN.com), trainer Jose Garoffalo was very optimistic after that last workout despite an underwhelming overall time:
He's the kind of horse that doesn't need too much to do. I know most people like the clock, they were expecting a minute flat or a :59 seconds or so, but I'm not too worried about it. The nice thing about it is he finished strong, the last quarter of a mile was very strong. And after the wire, the gallop out was very solid.
While Wildcat Red has the initial burst of a sprinter, the horse also has tremendous fight and saves enough juice for the home stretch. As a result, he has never finished worse than second in his seven-race career.
This horse has always come through and been a factor in the dying seconds, with his biggest loss being by 3/4 of a length. He will be a major player down the stretch again on the sport’s biggest stage.
Ride On Curlin (15-1)
Pedigree is an important factor in horse racing, and Ride On Curlin is the son of Hall of Fame horse Curlin. Furthermore, his jockey is a three-time winner at Churchill Downs since 2007 and has accomplished the feat on long shots and favorites alike.
Starting so far on the outside (post No. 19) isn’t good for Calvin Borel’s hopes of getting to the rail, but Ride On Curlin displayed brilliant closing speed to finish the Arkansas Derby, and that racing style generally does well in Louisville, the horse’s hometown.
Ride On Curlin doesn’t have great odds, but the combination of Borel and the horse’s closing speed make him one to watch toward the end of the fastest two minutes in sports.