California Chrome pulled the rare feat of winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby after being heralded as the overwhelming favorite on Saturday afternoon. He figures to be a shoe-in for oddsmakers as a gigantic favorite again at the Preakness Stakes in two weeks.
Commanding Curve came in second, while popular pre-race favorite Danza didn't have enough to make a late push for the lead but finished third to round out the podium of top finishers at the 140th edition of the Run for the Roses.
California Chrome stayed near the inside and within a few lengths of the lead all race. He entered the final turn and grabbed a sizable, five-length lead that he maintained until the final 100 yards, when Commanding Curve was able to close the gap a bit—but not enough to seriously threaten the winner, who had just enough gas left to make it to the finish line.
You can catch the entire race below:
Here's a look at the final order of finish:
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||-|
|2||17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||1 3/4|
|3||4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||3|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens||5 3/4|
|5||6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||5 3/4|
|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||11|
Source: NBC Broadcast
Up next for California Chrome are two weeks of outside talk of whether he has a shot at winning the Triple Crown. Considering his runaway finish at Churchill Downs, the hype shouldn't be quelled regarding a horse that was already receiving a lion's share of attention.
The 2014 Derby champion is planning on staying in Kentucky for the week before preparing for the move across the country, per Daily Racing Form:
Sherman says California Chrome will likely remain at Churchill about a week before vanning to Pimlico for #Preakness— DRF Derby (@DRFDerby) May 3, 2014
It takes no time for oddsmakers to draw up some initial numbers for the Kentucky Derby winner, so let's take a look at what's coming out of Las Vegas regarding California Chrome's shot at both the Triple Crown and Preakness.
Triple Crown Odds
Only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown since 1919, so it comes as no surprise that the odds are usually somewhat small for the Kentucky Derby winner's chances of pulling off the epic feat of three straight wins at Churchill Downs, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes all in a little more than a month.
California Chrome, on the other hand, is getting a lot of early love, as ESPN's RJ Bell stated moments after the race that he's owns a favorable line:
California Chrome now paying +180 to win Triple Crown (at Sportsbook.ag)— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) May 3, 2014
There was no doubting California Chrome's prowess before Saturday's race, as he entered with 5-2 odds that rose to as high as 2-1 during parts of race day. So many people striking big on his widely predicted victory is sure to generate a spike in voting for him throughout the rest of the horse racing season.
But California Chrome is one of dozens and dozens of promising horses to win the Derby and generate hype for a Triple Crown bid. And since Affirmed did so in 1978, none of them has been able to rattle off the feat.
Preakness Prediction: California Chrome
California Chrome's Triple Crown odds might have been large, but his early outlook for the Preakness is quite large, per BetVega.com's Trev Rogers:
California Chrome opens as a 6/5 favorite to win the Preakness— Trev Rogers (@BetVegaNews) May 3, 2014
That's an awfully sure-sounding line for a field that could see a dozen or so horses, all with championship pedigrees and a chance at winning one of horse racing's biggest events on the line.
But for once, it might not be too off line.
California Chrome was written off by many experts heading into Saturday just based off his status as a massive favorite. After all, per The Wall Street Journal's Jim Chairusmi, only 14.7 percent of the winners since 1980 have been favorites.
However, California Chrome's recent success—and the margin of victory—should be further validated, given Saturday's result.
He came in having won his last four races by a combined 24 lengths. Although the gap on Saturday was erased quite a bit in the final few seconds, he was gearing up down the final stretch to win the race by as many as six or seven lengths, as none of the high-flying contenders had a chance at catching him.
Heading into the Preakness, that should bode well for him. He will face similar competition at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, but there will be more room to move around, as the Preakness typically has closer to 10 contenders to the Derby's 20.
California Chrome was able to battle at Churchill Downs to stay near the rail and made the field pay for it in the end. It should be somewhat simpler to do that at Pimlico as long as he receives a favorable post position.
Anything can happen on race day, but he is the best bet heading into the May 17 affair.