Kentucky Derby 2014: Looking Back at California Chrome and More Race Storylines

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2014

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR LONGINES - California Chrome, ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, celebrates as he wins the 140th Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. Longines, the Swiss watchmaker known for its famous timepieces, is the Official Watch and Timekeeper of the 140th annual Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Longines/AP Images)
Diane Bondareff/Associated Press

Let the Triple Crown talk begin. 

California Chrome raced to victory at the 140th Kentucky Derby in impressive fashion, outlasting the field in what was a tight competition until the final stretch. Sports Illustrated captured the winning moment: 

Before we get too caught up in discussing California Chrome’s chances at a Triple Crown, it is worth looking back at a couple of the storylines from Saturday at Churchill Downs.


California Chrome

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Clearly, the main takeaway is the victory by the favorite, California Chrome.

Art Sherman became the oldest trainer to ever win a Kentucky Derby, and California Chrome picked up his seventh win in 11 starts. It also marked the fifth consecutive race that the dominant horse has won.

The well-advertised closing speed was on full display Saturday, as the entire field seemed to be within striking distance heading into the final stretch. However, California Chrome turned on the jets at the end, as he has the past five races, and cruised to the win in the last moments.

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

It also marked the second time jockey Victor Espinoza won the Derby (he won in 2002 aboard War Emblem). He provided an emotional and inspirational postgame comment when talking about what he is going to do with some of his winnings, via Teresa Genaro of

One day I went to City of Hope in L.A. All the kids, they have cancer.  I can’t go in there.  Really, like I cry.  Since that time, I donated 10% of my earnings for all the kids that have cancer.  It makes me cry to see all the kids that can’t even have a life like we have.

It changed my life to see those kids like seven, eight, 10 years old, 20 years old, they don’t know what life is about. I hope today what earnings I have, I make a change to one of those kids that don’t know anything about life.

It is only natural to look ahead to the potential of a Triple Crown in horse racing.

California Chrome appears primed to make a charge. He has serious momentum on his side after winning the past five races and has the closing speed necessary to break free from a crowded field. 

RJ Bell of ESPN let fans know that California Chrome is already a dominant favorite heading into the Preakness:

There is a reason he has been deemed as a favorite, and he will show why once again at the Preakness.


Vicar’s In Trouble Disappoints

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Rosie Napravnik was trying to become the first female jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby, but she fell short in a big way. 

She rode Vicar’s In Trouble to a last-place finish out of the 19 horses, and the inside post position proved to be too much to overcome. She had Vicar’s In Trouble in the middle of the pack early in the race, but California Chrome and others eventually left her and her horse in the dust.


Don’t Forget About the Undercard

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

While California Chrome was possibly taking the first step toward horse racing history, he wasn’t the only horse who added to an impressive resume at Churchill Downs.

Wise Dan, who has been awarded with the Horse of the Year award twice, won the $500,000 Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic for the second straight year by edging out Seek Again in a narrow finish.

Wise Dan has won 12 of his last 13 races and is an astounding 21 of 29 for his entire career. What’s more, he is a perfect four of four in Churchill Downs. 

California Chrome may have stole the headlines, but Wise Dan is as sure of a bet as there is at the sport’s most famous venue.


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