Kentucky Derby 2014 Winner: Analysis and Highlights from California Chome's Win

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 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

California Chrome entered the 140th Kentucky Derby as the heavy favorite and had little trouble living up to expectations with an impressive victory at Churchill Downs.

In a race that was slow for Kentucky Derby standards, jockey Victor Espinoza was able to get near the front of the pack early and hang around there for the majority of the first mile. He was then able to pull away from the rest of the field in the final straightaway and come home with an easy win.

Here is a look at the full race of the Run for the Roses:

Commanding Curve also had a strong finish securing second place by less than two lengths, but the victory was never in doubt for California Chrome, who has now won five races in a row since pairing with Espinoza.

Also notable was Danza, who was considered a top sleeper coming in and should be satisfied with a third-place finish in a loaded field.

Here is a complete look at the final order from Saturday:

2014 Kentucky Derby Results
15California ChromeVictor EspinozaArt Sherman-
217Commanding CurveShaun BridgmohanDallas Stewart1 3/4
34DanzaJoe BravoTodd Pletcher3
420Wicked StrongRajiv MaraghJimmy Jerkens5 3/4
56SamraatJose OrtizRick Violette Jr.5 3/4
612Dance With FateCorey NakataniPeter Eurton6 1/4
719Ride On CurlinCalvin BorelBilly Gowan6 3/4
814Medal CountRobby AlbaradoDale Romans7 1/2
913ChituMartin GarciaBob Baffert8
107We Miss ArtieJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher8 1/4
118General A RodJoel RosarioMike Maker8 1/4
1216Intense HolidayJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher9
1318Candy BoyGary StevensJohn Sadler11 3/4
143Uncle SighIrad Ortiz Jr.Gary Contessa15
1515TapitureRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen16 1/4
162Harry's HolidayCorey LanerieMike Maker22 1/2
179VinceremosJoe Rocco Jr.Todd Pletcher28
1810Wildcat RedLuis SaezJose Garoffalo28 1/4
191Vicar's In TroubleRosie NapravnikMike Maker38 1/4
-11HoppertunityMike SmithBob BaffertSCR
via NBC Broadcast

The race went exactly according to plan for the California Chrome team.

The one concern heading into the day was that the pace would be too fast, and the horse would not be able to conserve energy for the closing stretch.

Luckily this never happened, as noted by Jeremy Pond of James Grant Sports:

As a result, the favorite was able to simply hang around the leaders before making his move to win.

Espinoza did a great job on top of the horse to earn his second career win at the Kentucky Derby, but he did not want to take the credit. The jockey explained why to Ben Roberts of the Lexington-Herald Leader:

Meanwhile, trainer Art Sherman had quite an eventful trip to Churchill Downs considering these statistics:

Everyone involved did their part to make sure that California Chrome reached his potential. The only question is whether he can keep this up over the next month.

Although there has not been a Triple Crown winner since 1978, the dominance in the first leg gives fans reason to be hopeful that California Chrome can break that trend.

According to RJ Bell of Grantland, the odds are pretty good at this point:

It all starts with the Preakness Stakes two weeks after the Derby.

Of course, it will not be an easy win in Maryland. Commanding Curve had an impressive finish creating a serious challenge in the closing seconds. Danza and Wicked Strong also have great speed but were just short on Saturday.

Any of these competitors—or Hoppertunity, a horse that missed the Kentucky Derby—can knock the Derby winner out of the running for the Triple Crown.

Still, California Chrome is the big winner for the day after a convincing win at Churchill Downs. He was clearly the best in the field and had little trouble earning the win.

If things go well in his next two races, the sky is the limit for this thoroughbred.


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