Johnny Love's Kentucky Derby preview

  • Updated: May 3, 2014 - 7:11 AM

Purse: $2 million Guaranteed
 
Post Horse Opening Odds Jockey Trainer
1        
2 Vicar's in Trouble 30-1 Rosie Napravnik Mike Maker
3 Harry's Holiday 50-1 Corey Lanerie Mike Maker
4 Uncle Sigh 30-1 Irad Ortiz Jr. Gary Contessa
5 Danza 8-1 Joe Bravo Todd Pletcher
6 California Chrome 5-2 Victor Espinoza Art Sherman
7 Samraat 15-1 Jose Ortiz Rick Violette Jr.
8 We Miss Artie 50-1 Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher
9 General a Rod 15-1 Joel Rosario Mike Maker
10 Vinceremos 30-1 Joe Rocco Jr. Todd Pletcher
11 Wildcat Red 15-1 Luis Saez Jose Garoffalo
-- Hoppertunity - Scratched -- Mike Smith Bob Baffert
12 Dance With Fate 20-1 Corey Nakatani Peter Eurton
13 Chitu 20-1 Martin Garcia Bob Baffert
14 Medal Count 20-1 Robby Albarado Dale Romans
15 Tapiture 15-1 Ricardo Santana Jr. Steve Asmussen
16 Intense Holiday 8-1 John Velazquez Todd Pletcher
17 Commanding Curve 50-1 Shaun Bridgmohan Dallas Stewart
18 Candy Boy 20-1 Gary Stevens John Sadler
19 Ride On Curlin 15-1 Calvin Borel William Gowan
20 Wicked Strong 6-1 Rajiv Maragh Jimmy Jerkens
 
Colts & Geldings Carry 126 Pounds

 

 

Expect a blistering pace in this year’s 140th Kentucky Derby, and California Chrome will be wearing the bull’s-eye as the deserving favorite after winning his past four races by a total of 25 lengths. On paper, he’s heads above the rest of the field and a potential superstar in the sport, but he needs to overcome the not-so favorable inside post position and all the obstacles that lie ahead for him in this large field. There are more than enough off-the-pace runners who are major threats and will benefit from the expected quick fractions up front that occur when 20 horses stampede out of the gate. Here are my main contenders in this year’s field, where anything can happen once the gates are opened, and if you don’t like the favorite, there is a plethora of prices.

 

DANCE WITH FATE: I always look for runners who are improving each race, and Dance With Fate has done just that in his past four attempts, including an impressive off-the-pace victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. The knock on DWF is that his stakes victory was on Polytrack. I used to toss these runners off my ticket myself, but successful Polytrack runners have adjusted well to the Churchill dirt track in recent years. DWF will benefit from the contested fractions, and I expect him to be near the front coming down the stretch with the opportunity to light up the board at a 20-1 morning line. Veteran jockey Cory Nakatani will know exactly where to position his ride and know when to push the go button.

 

CALIFORNIA CHROME: The favorite is talented enough to sit off the pace or take the lead, and my guess is he’ll sit right behind the pace-setters. Keys for him are breaking well, which has been a slight issue, and getting into position near the front around the first turn without getting squeezed or bumped around. His wins are more impressive to watch than they are to read in past performances. Jockey Victor Espinoza looked like a statue in the saddle, without no urging or whip needed, in the most impressive prep race of horses in today’s field. If California Chrome wins the Derby, he will be the legitimate Triple Crown threat that we haven’t seen in years.

 

MEDAL COUNT: Another Polytrack/turf-to-dirt transfer who finished second to Dance With Fate in the Blue Grass Stakes, finishing strong. Most likely will sit midpack and get first shot on the speedsters up front. Trainer Dale Romans is extremely high on his colt, which has been showing encouraging workouts this week in training. Slight cause for concern is that this will be his third start in 30 days.

RIDE ON CURLIN: Ride on Curlin has been improving and is coming off a place finish in the Arkansas Derby after a bumpy start. The colt has never finished worse than fourth in nine starts and should handle the Derby distance with a great view of the pace-setters, sitting right behind, ready to pounce. Calvin Borel gets the mount; he won the Derby in 2009 and 2010.

 

INTENSE HOLIDAY and WICKED STRONG: The outside positions have been the money posts in the Derby the past few years because runners are able to avoid the bumping and body slamming that goes on after the gates are opened. Intense Holiday and Wicked Strong are both strong closers who will appreciate the quick early pace, and both seem to be on the upswing.

 

Love’s wagers: $2 exacta 12, 14 with all —$76; 50 cent trifecta box with 5, 12, 14, 19, 20 — $30. Total — $106.

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Philadelphia - WP: A. Harang 5 FINAL
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 3
Atlanta - LP: S. Marimon 5 FINAL
Toronto - WP: B. Cecil 6
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 12 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 3
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 4 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 2
Cincinnati - LP: H. Bailey 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: C. Martinez 5
San Diego - LP: C. Kimbrel 6 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: Z. Rosscup 7
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 4 FINAL
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 6
Miami - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 5
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 4
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0
Oakland - WP: J. Hahn 5 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: Y. Ventura 0
Arizona - LP: R. De La Rosa 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: C. Heston 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 3 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: Z. Greinke 6
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 1 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Hernandez 3
Washington 93 FINAL
Toronto 86
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Golden State 106
Milwaukee 91 FINAL
Chicago 103
Dallas 108 FINAL
Houston 118
Minnesota 1 FINAL
St. Louis 4
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Winnipeg 1 FINAL
Anaheim 2
Houston 1 FINAL
D.C. 1
Orlando City 0 FINAL
Columbus 3
Toronto FC 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 3
Seattle 3 FINAL
Colorado 1
Vancouver FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 0
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2

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