The Kentucky Derby is always the most highly anticipated event of the year, and the 2014 edition didn't disappoint.
Emerging from a field filled with worthy contenders, it was post-time favorite California Chrome that rode into the record books as the winner of the 140th Run for the Roses:
The favorite California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby! pic.twitter.com/LFddp21wXn— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 3, 2014
Although California Chrome was the post-time favorite, the fact that he lived up to the hype was still impressive. His win marked the first time in the last decade that a favorite of his stature was able to cash in on his status to earn the win in Kentucky.
It's only the 2nd time since 1980 a morning-line favorite at 5-2 or shorter went on to win the Kentucky Derby (2002 - Fusaichi Pegasus).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
Overall, this Derby wasn't characterized by blazing speed. California Chrome's winning time came in at 3.66 seconds over the two-minute mark. However, it was good enough to make him the clear winner and begin some genuine buzz about a potential triple crown bid.
Here's a look at the complete standings with prize money payouts:
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||2:03.66||$1,442,800|
|2||17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||1 3/4||$400,000|
|3||4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||3||$200,00|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens||5 3/4||$100,000|
|5||6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||5 3/4||$60,000|
|6||12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||6 1/4|
|7||19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan||6 3/4|
|8||14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||7 1/2|
|9||13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||8|
|10||7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||8 1/4|
|11||8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||8 1/4|
|12||16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||9|
|13||18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||11 3/4|
|14||3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||15|
|15||15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||16 1/4|
|16||2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||22 1/2|
|17||9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher||28|
|18||10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||28 1/4|
|19||1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||38 1/4|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||SCR|
Per NBC Broadcast
Of the many great stories that come out of California Chrome's performance was 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman. The trainer became the oldest trainer to win a Kentucky Derby and did so on just his first attempt:
California Chrome trainer Art Sherman was training his first Kentucky Derby horse.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
But the biggest winner of the day was the ownership of the California-bred horse. As Darren Rovell notes, the team had the opportunity to sell the derby winner before he burst onto the scene, but remained steadfast in their belief that he would pay off.
California Chrome's owners reportedly turned down an offer to sell 51% of the horse for $6M. Joked valuation was closer to $100M.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) May 4, 2014
Turns out, the risk was a calculated one.
Owner Steve Coburn isn't about to sit on his laurels, either. While soaking in the reality that his dreams had just come true in Kentucky, he turned his sights to Baltimore and New York, where the last two legs of the Triple Crown will be hosted:
Whether California Chrome can win the Triple Crown will now become the major focus of the horse racing world. There hasn't been a winner of the three big races in one year since 1978, when Affirmed pulled off the feat.
However, with an impressive performance down the stretch, California Chrome has proved that he's worth the hype that made him the race favorite in Kentucky.
With the sprinter's speed to best the field at the Preakness, and the strong finishing ability to complete the long-distance challenge of the Belmont, it's not just shallow talk that he could pull it off. He will likely be the favorite in the Triple Crown races to come.