California Chrome entered the Kentucky Derby as the favorite and did not disappoint as he pulled away from the pack to win the 140th Run for the Roses.
Jockey Victor Espinoza ran a perfect race to win the Kentucky Derby for the second time in his career, hanging around near the front before making his move at the end. Although the time of two minutes and 3.66 seconds does not rank among the best ever, he was clearly the best in the field and dominated his competition.
While few were surprised by the winner at Churchill Downs, the battle for second place was a bit more shocking. Relative long shot Commanding Curve had a strong finish to end right behind California Chrome and give bettors a nice payout.
Danza also should be satisfied with his third-place result after coming in with high expectations.
Each of these teams will be celebrating after the event thanks to a nice chunk of change being brought in as their winnings. Here are the complete purse payouts for the Kentucky Derby, via Eric Crawford of WDRB:
Obviously, you can't have successful performances without disappointing ones from others. Vicar's In Trouble qualifies as a letdown after winning the Louisiana Derby. Unfortunately, Kentucky Oaks-winning jockey Rosie Napravnik could not avoid a last-place finish.
Here is a look at the complete order of the race:
|2014 Kentucky Derby Results|
|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 Rocco 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|
|via NBC Broadcast|
Still, the star of the day is California Chrome, who ran a great race to leave no doubts as he crossed the finish line. While he was the heavy favorite after winning his past four starts, this does not always lead to victory, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN:
Even those who don't call themselves horse racing experts were impressed, like Jeff Darlington of NFL Network:
Trainer Art Sherman was excited after the competition, via Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
At 77 years old, he became the oldest trainer ever to win the Kentucky Derby—on his first attempt, no less. At this point, he likely does not even see what all the fuss is about.
While California Chrome earned the victory, bettors actually would have benefited more by picking Commanding Curve to place, as noted by these payouts:
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan took a long time to make his move but had his horse really moving at the end. This should give the team a lot of confidence heading into future races.
Of course, after the win, everyone wants to know what else California Chrome is capable of, with this being the question on the public's mind:
RJ Bell of Grantland notes the current odds for this to occur:
Despite the strong showing at Churchill Downs, it is important not to get ahead of ourselves when discussing the possibility of a Triple Crown. It has not happened since 1978, as a number of impressive horses have struggled to complete the rare feat.
Even if California Chrome is the best in the field, sometimes all it takes is bad luck to lose one of these top races. Still, you can be certain that fans will be rooting for a win at the upcoming Preakness Stakes to keep the dream alive heading into Belmont.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.