The 2014 Kentucky Derby produced the second-largest crowd in the history of the prestigious race at Churchill Downs. All of 164,906 onlookers witnessed a strong field left in the dust by a sparkling performance from California Chrome.
After a fine break from the gate, jockey Victor Espinoza wisely tightened the reins and settled California Chrome just behind the pack of leaders comprising of Uncle Sigh and Chitu.
Maintaining his pace, California Chrome began to make his move at the top of the stretch.
Shifting to Chitu's outside, he burst to the front of the pack, increasing his lead by five lengths coming into the final stretch.
Commanding Curve rallied late, but California Chrome's lead was insurmountable, eventually winning the race by 1 3/4 lengths.
In case you missed it—or simply want to watch the action again—here's a look at the entire Run for the Roses:
It was an epic win for California Chrome. However, the official race times didn't reflect the horse's dominance.
With Uncle Sigh setting the race's pace, the majority of the 2014 Kentucky Derby wasn't run at high speeds. This led to a rather slower finish for the entire field.
Here's how the race's final times panned out:
|2||17||Commanding Curve||1 3/4|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||5 3/4|
|6||12||Dance With Fate||6 1/4|
|7||19||Ride On Curlin||6 3/4|
|8||14||Medal Count||7 1/2|
|10||7||We Miss Artie||8 1/4|
|11||8||General A Rod||8 1/4|
|13||18||Candy Boy||11 3/4|
|16||2||Harry's Holiday||22 1/2|
|18||10||Wildcat Red||28 1/4|
|19||1||Vicar's In Trouble||38 1/4|
Now, with the Kentucky Derby in the books, it's time to shift attention to the remainder of the Triple Crown.
Next up is the Preakness on May 17, followed by the Belmont Stakes on June 7.
The list of contenders has yet to be compiled for each of these races. Late Kentucky Derby scratch Pablo Del Monte is currently the only horse committed to run in the Preakness.
We do know of one more sure contender: California Chrome.
After all, his owner, Steve Coburn, already projected a Triple Crown for the horse, 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
Early odds indicate California Chrome will open as the Preakness favorite—and rightfully so, after dominating the Kentucky Derby—according to a tweet from Covers.com:
California Chrome opens as a 6/5 favorite to win the Preakness. http://t.co/Z4BrQ5T3Rl— Covers.com (@Covers) May 3, 2014
California Chrome won't have it easy.
If Commanding Curve and Wicked Strong enter the Preakness, they'll surely provide some great competition. Both horses are fantastic closers and could give a strong push down the final stretch.
Will California Chrome take the Triple Crown?
Hoppertunity also remains a wild card. If he can get healthy before the Preakness, he will certainly become a big factor.
No horse has won the coveted Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. It's easy to see how difficult it is to obtain that feat, having not had a Triple Crown winner in 36 years.
Could that drought finally come to an end this year? We'll have to wait and see.
If California Chrome can deliver two more astonishing performances over these races, he certainly has a great chance.