Cairo Prince Odds to Win the 2014 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/17/2014
A couple of weeks ago it seemed like Cairo Prince was going to be a major player in the Kentucky Derby picture. He was the favorite in the Florida Derby, and the winner of that race always gets plenty of respect. If he had delivered impressively as favorite in that race then there was a very good chance that he would have been Kentucky Derby favorite. He didn't, though - not even close. A fourth-place finish in that race means that instead of being firmly in the spotlight all the way to Louisville, he is now a bit of a forgotten horse.
But is it deserved? Can Cairo Prince win the Kentucky Derby? Oddsmakers aren't sure. Cairo Prince's odds to win the Kentucky Derby at Sportsbook.ag of +1500 still have him as the third choice in the field, but he is far behind favored California Chrome at +300 and Wicked Strong at +600. Instead of being a clear superstar in this field, he's just one of the main horses with tons of potential and even more questions.
Welcome to the headache that is this year's Kentucky Derby.
Here are five factors to consider when trying to figure out how to deal with this team:
The Florida Derby: The Florida Derby was a disaster. The challenge is to figure out just how much it means. He found himself tracking a fairly rapid early pace in about fourth. Around the far turn he found himself far too wide, and he had to run faster than he ever would have wanted to over that quarter of a mile. That left him without nearly enough gas down the stretch when it mattered. To his credit, he didn't lose a lot of ground or any positioning, but he also didn't threaten the top three. He was the very strong favorite - just over even money when the second choice was 3.3/1, so this was a disappointing and somewhat surprising performance. When something like happens you have to look for obvious excuses. As it turns out, he may have had one. Early on he was bumped hard by eventual winner Constitution. It clearly bothered him, and he never seemed to get over it. While that can somewhat explain what happened, it doesn't ease concerns. Traffic is all but certain in the Derby, and it's rare a horse comes through without dealing with some contact. If it bothered him this much here in an eight-horse field then what happens when there are 20 horses?
What came before: Cairo Prince had a strong fall in New York. It was his first race of this year, though, that really vaulted him into the upper echelons of contenders. On Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park he faced a strong field in the Holy Bull and absolutely destroyed it. He was forced three wide early on, but he recovered to take the lead and pull away by well over five lengths. It was a very strong performance. The concern, though, was that that was his only start before March 29's Florida Derby. A layoff of over two months is always a concern with young horses, and that's especially true when the horse is supposed to be building up a stamina base and gaining experience on the field. It is another likely excuse for the flat showing in the Florida Derby. It also adds another challenge for handicappers. Was he flat in Florida because he was rusty, or because he just wasn't good enough?
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin is the man in charge of this horse. He's one of the top trainers around, and he has had plenty of success. Little of that success has come in the Triple Crown, though. His lone win was with Jazil in the 2006 Belmont. He almost pulled off a stunner in 2005, though. He was second by just a half length in the Derby with Closing Argument at odds of 71/1. McLaughlin, despite his lack of a Derby win, is an asset to this horse.
Ownership: This horse is owned by a large and very wealthy ownership group headed up by Godolphin Racing. That stable is owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the Dubai royal family. He is one of the biggest owners in the world and is absolutely starved for a win in the Derby. Whether this is his year or not, sooner or later he's going to find a winner. This same group ran Soldat in 2011 and wound up a disappointing 11th.
Breeding: These owners could buy any horse they want, so it's no surprise that they bought one with good Derby breeding. He is a son of young sire Pioneerof the Nile. That horse was second in the Derby in 2009, just like his sire Empire Maker was in 2003. This is the first crop of three year olds for Pioneerof the Nile, and the early results have been very impressive. Cairo Prince's dam is a sprinter, but she is a daughter of Holy Bull, the great Hall of Famer who was a disappointing 12th in his Derby but who went on to win at the classic distance. Holy Bull sired 2005 Derby winner Giacomo.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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