California Chrome and Victor Espinoza: Predictions for Triple Crown, Preakness

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMay 3, 2014

Victor Espinoza celebrates after riding California Chrome to victory in the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman/Associated Press

After winning the Kentucky Derby without breaking a sweat, California Chrome just raised expectations of pulling off a historic Triple Crown. 

Chrome won the Derby on Saturday by less than two lengths, but it was a more dominant showing than that. The race had a slow, early pace as contenders got into position to make a run down the home stretch.

With unmatched speed, Chrome exploded from the pack of contenders and left the field in his dust down the stretch. His margin of victory would have been greater had jockey Victor Espinoza not eased up to celebrate on the last few gallops. 

Have a look at the replay: 

And here are the results: 

2014 Kentucky Derby Results
15California ChromeVictor EspinozaArt Sherman
217Commanding CurveShaun BridgmohanDallas Stewart
34DanzaJoe BravoTodd Pletcher
420Wicked StrongRajiv MaraghJimmy Jerkens
56SamraatJose OrtizRick Violette Jr.
612Dance With FateCorey NakataniPeter Eurton
719Ride On CurlinCalvin BorelBilly Gowan
814Medal CountRobby AlbaradoDale Romans
913ChituMartin GarciaBob Baffert
107We Miss ArtieJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher
118General A RodJoel RosarioMike Maker
1216Intense HolidayJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher
1318Candy BoyGary StevensJohn Sadler
143Uncle SighIrad Ortiz Jr.Gary Contessa
1515TapitureRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen
162Harry's HolidayCorey LanerieMike Maker
179VinceremosJoe Rocco Jr.Todd Pletcher
1810Wildcat RedLuis SaezJose Garoffalo
191Vicar's In TroubleRosie NapravnikMike Maker
via NBC broadcast

With the win, California Chrome's 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman became the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby. He was understandably emotional and ecstatic following the race: 

Despite the monumental win, there is no time to sit and revel in the accomplishment. Chrome has to get ready for the Triple Crown's second leg with the Preakness on May 17. 

Chrome's impressive win is not lost on the gambling industry. Despite there only being 11 Triple Crown winners since 1911 and none since Affirmed in 1978, California Chrome's odds to pull off the feat are low. tweeted his odds: 

If you ask Chrome's co-owner, Steve Coburn, those odds aren't low enough. As the Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker tweets, Coburn is a touch confident about his horse's shot at the triple crown: 

He has every reason in the world to be confident. Chrome has now won five straight races, and he was the clear class of the field in each one. Jockey Victor Espinoza has had the mount for each, and the accomplished veteran will be there to continue this racing relationship. 

The Preakness is a touch shorter than the Kentucky Derby, but Chrome burst out of the gate at the Derby and didn't show any indications that he'd struggle in the Preakness. 

The Belmont is another story. That is the longest of the Triple Crown races, and it has derailed many a horse in search of the Triple Crown. 

Going back to 2002 with War Emblem, who happened to be ridden by Espinoza, five horses have won the Derby and Preakness but have come up short in the Belmont. 

Along with the greater distance, potential Triple Crown winners typically face a field that is far more rested. Only a rare entry or two will participate in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

So will California Chrome be able to buck the odds and win the Triple Crown? I say he will. 

I certainly don't see a horse that will be able to compete with him at the Preakness. Although the Belmont will be a stiff challenge, the ease with which this horse pulled away from his competitors down the stretch at the Derby tells me this horse has the speed and stamina to win in New York. 

This is going to be the year of California Chrome. He will win the Triple Crown.