California Chrome sprinted to a resounding victory at the 2014 Kentucky Derby on Saturday afternoon and racked up quite the payday in the process.
After entering Saturday as a massive favorite to win the 140th Run for the Roses, California Chrome didn't disappoint. The talented thoroughbred became the first California-bred horse to win a leg of the Triple Crown since 1962.
Holding the inside rail throughout, jockey Victor Espinoza maneuvered California Chrome to within a length of the lead throughout the race. He waited until the final turn to pull away from the field, leaving little doubt down the stretch who the victor would be.
Here's a video of California Chrome's stunning victory—his fifth straight win:
Commanding Curve came in with little talk but put together a strong race and finished second on the day while pushing California Chrome in the final few lengths. Danza, one of the other pre-race favorites, stayed close throughout and finished in third.
But it was California Chrome who took home one of horse racing's biggest events, validating the hype heading in and putting together a masterful race. This comes despite running one of the slower times in recent history, per WDRB Louisville's Eric Crawford:
California Chrome’s winning time of 2:03.66 was the slowest on a fast track in the Derby since Cannonade in 1974.— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) May 3, 2014
Here's a look at the final results:
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||2:03.66|
|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|
|20||11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||SCR|
Per NBC Broadcast
Wicked Strong and Samraat finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to complete the list of purse winners:
|1||California Chrome||Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin||$1,417,800|
|2||Commanding Curve||West Point Thoroughbreds||$400,000|
|3||Danza||Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners||$200,000|
|4||Wicked Strong||Centennial Farms||$100,000|
|5||Samraat||My Meadowview Farm||$60,000|
Last but not least, the payouts for the top three finishers, per Covers.com:
Here is the payout table for the 140th Kentucky Derby pic.twitter.com/5ocFqBqqu7— Covers.com (@Covers) May 3, 2014
Despite having great odds heading into Saturday's Derby, California Chrome wasn't impacted by the curse of the overwhelming favorite. He pulled away at Churchill Downs just as he was supposed to—down the stretch and in convincing fashion.
With the Preakness upcoming on May 17 and the Belmont Stakes on June 7, California Chrome owner Steve Coburn had a bold statement for the supporters at Churchill Downs Saturday, stating his horse would be at both:
Moving from the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness offers a number of advantages. Pimlico is a shorter track at 1 3/4 miles, as opposed to the 1 1/4-mile Churchill Downs. Just as well, the field of contenders is typically cut in half, or close to it.
But there's no doubt that the Derby champion will have his fair share of contenders ready to take it from him. Hoppertunity was a late scratch over the weekend, but was among the top favorites to threaten California Chrome before that and could get healthy before Pimlico. Danza and Samraat both have the speed and the endurance to make a late push.
However, it's tough to argue against the odds-on favorite at this point. A win at the Preakness would be California Chrome's sixth straight, a jaw-dropping feat for any horse heading into a Triple Crown bid. He saves his best for the final stretch—a must in these long-distance races—and Espinoza rides him magnificently.
Trainer Art Sherman has put this horse in a great position to succeed, and it's tough to see him failing to take advantage of it at the Preakness to move one step closer to the first Triple Crown since 1978.