Despite a million-dollar pedigree and highly renowned ownership, California Chrome shined in front of a crowd numbering 164,906 at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
TODAY'S ATTENDANCE AT THE KENTUCKY DERBY IS 164,906! That's the 2nd largest crowd ever! #KyDerby— NBC Sports Network (@NBCSN) May 3, 2014
California Chrome continued his dominance with a sparkling performance in the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
Right out of the gate, California Chrome broke nicely, quickly finding himself near the front of the pack, trailing just Uncle Sigh and Chitu.
Using his experience wisely, jockey Victor Espinoza tightened the reins on his horse, falling behind the lead pack by a length. This avoided potential race-altering collisions in traffic up front.
While Uncle Sigh maintained a relatively slow pace, California Chrome cruised along nicely through the race's first turn.
Once the pack began to round the far turn, Espinoza saw his window of opportunity.
Breaking to the outside of Chitu, California Chrome showcased his high stamina and great closing speed, bursting to the front of the pack with ease.
He didn't stop there.
At the top of the stretch, California Chrome moved with speed unlike any other horse on the track, quickly gaining five lengths on the field.
Even with a surging Commanding Curve coming on down the stretch, California Chrome's lead was insurmountable, as he took the victory by 1 3/4 lengths.
Here's a look at the race's final results:
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman|
|2||17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart|
|3||4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens|
|5||6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.|
|6||12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton|
|7||19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan|
|8||14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans|
|9||13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert|
|10||7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher|
|11||8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker|
|12||16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|13||18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler|
|14||3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa|
|15||15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen|
|16||2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker|
|17||9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher|
|18||10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo|
|19||1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker|
|--||11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert|
Words simply cannot express how flawless California Chrome looked on Saturday. Take a glance at the horse's dominating performance:
With the Kentucky Derby now in the books, the focus now shifts to the Preakness on May 17.
The contenders for this year's Preakness are not yet known.
Pablo Del Monte will be in the field after the horse's owners opted out of racing in the Kentucky Derby.
Which other horse we can count on seeing in Baltimore? That would be California Chrome.
After winning the Kentucky Derby, California Chrome will look to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive with another victory at the Preakness.
In fact, Covers.com already tweeted the early line for California Chrome's impending race:
California Chrome opens as a 6/5 favorite to win the Preakness. http://t.co/Z4BrQ5T3Rl— Covers.com (@Covers) May 3, 2014
Regardless of which other contenders are involved in the Preakness, it's easy to assume California Chrome will be favored by far.
With such a dazzling performance at Churchill Downs, there may not be another horse capable of overtaking this year's Derby winner.
The Triple Crown is no easy feat. In fact, the last horse to achieve the title was Affirmed back in 1978. However, that won't stop California Chrome's owner Steve Coburn from dreaming big, according to a tweet from Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
California Chrome's cowboy hat-wearing owner, Steve Coburn, goes big and predicts his horse will win the Triple Crown.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 3, 2014
That may be a bit of a brash statement from Coburn; however, after watching California Chrome run on Saturday, it's easy to assume the horse has a great chance.
One Preakness projection can be made at this point. California Chrome will, indeed, take another victory and will be one win at the Belmont Stakes away from the coveted Triple Crown.
It won't be easy though.
If contenders such as Commanding Curve and Wicked Strong compete, they will surely put up a good fight once again, as both horses have the stamina and closing ability to keep it close.
Hoppertunity is also another wild card. If he is healthy enough to compete, he can certainly make some noise as well.
One thing is certain: If the Preakness matches the same intensity we saw at the Kentucky Derby, we are in for yet another amazing race.