The 140th Kentucky Derby certainly lived up to its billing.
With the second-largest crowd to ever attend the prestigious race at Churchill Downs, the strong field of 19 horses didn't disappoint on Saturday.
TODAY'S ATTENDANCE AT THE KENTUCKY DERBY IS 164,906! That's the 2nd largest crowd ever! #KyDerby— NBC Sports Network (@NBCSN) May 3, 2014
The day belonged to California Chrome. The race's favorite put on a sparkling performance right out of the gate.
California Chrome broke quickly from the fifth post, and jockey Victor Espinoza tightened the reins shortly after to avoid running into traffic at the front of the pack.
Espinoza maintained a great pace, as California Chrome held strong right behind the lead horses heading into the final turn.
That's when Espinoza and California Chrome made their move.
Drifting slightly to the outside coming into the final stretch, California Chrome's endurance and closing speed were well on display. With about 200 yards remaining in the race, it appeared as though California Chrome had roughly a lead of four lengths.
Commanding Curve also came on strong at the end but was no match for the blazing California Chrome, winning handily by 1 3/4 lengths.
Here's a look at California Chrome's dazzling performance:
This was an incredible feat for a horse with a less-than-stellar pedigree and an unproven trainer.
The gamble paid off in a big way. With California Chrome's win, 77-year-old Art Sherman became the oldest winning Derby trainer, and Espinoza recorded his first Derby win since he rode War Emblem in 2002.
Sherman was an exercise boy for the legendary Swaps—the 1955 Kentucky Derby winner—in his youth. During a post-race interview, via John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times, Sherman visited Swaps' grave prior to the race.
He explained, "Well, when I went to Swaps' grave the other day I said a little prayer and it came true. I said I hope he's another Swaps."
Once all was said and done, the results for the 2014 Run for the Roses came to fruition:
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman|
|2||17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart|
|3||4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens|
|5||6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.|
|6||12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton|
|7||19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan|
|8||14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans|
|9||13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert|
|10||7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher|
|11||8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker|
|12||16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|13||18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler|
|14||3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa|
|15||15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen|
|16||2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker|
|17||9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher|
|18||10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo|
|19||1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker|
|--||11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert|
If you happened to be one of the lucky bettors to pick California Chrome, Commanding Curve or Danza, here's a look at the payouts heading your way:
Next on the slate will be the Preakness on Saturday, May 17. This will be California Chrome's next stop on his road to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Early odds are already coming in for California Chrome to be that next horse, according to a tweet from RJ Bell of Pregame.com:
California Chrome now paying +180 to win Triple Crown (at Sportsbook.ag)— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) May 3, 2014
Saturday's win was well deserving for California Chrome; however, that was just the first step.
The Preakness and Belmont Stakes will bring plenty of challenges of their own. Although, after watching Saturday's dominating performance, this horse sure looks ready for whatever comes his way.