Kentucky Derby 2014: Examining Race Highlights and Early Preakness Projections

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMay 4, 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

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.

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.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

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:

2014 Kentucky Derby Results
Pos.PostHorseJockeyTrainer
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 Rococo Jr.Todd Pletcher
1810Wildcat RedLuis SaezJose Garoffalo
191Vicar's In TroubleRosie NapravnikMike Maker
--11HoppertunityMike SmithBob Baffert
NBC

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:

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:

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.