2014 Kentucky Derby Contenders with Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 4/1/2014
We’re now just over a month away from the greatest two minutes in sports — the Kentucky Derby. By most years at this point we don’t really have a good sense of who is going to win the biggest of races. This year, though, the field is more wide-open than almost ever. We haven’t seen a superstar emerge yet — though that could change as soon as the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial Stakes are run this weekend.
There are lots of good horses, but it is very difficult to separate them — especially because so many tend to like running near the lead. Here`s a quick look at nine of the most intriguing 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders at this point in the process (futures odd to win the Kentucky Derby are from Sportsbook.ag):
California Chrome (+500): The favorite in the Santa Anita Derby has the chance to secure the role of Kentucky Derby favorite with a big win on Saturday. Trained by old-school veteran Art Sherman, the horse has done little wrong in his last three, and he looks to be the class of the West Coast — and maybe the whole country. He just keeps improving, and he has been working great. After three straight high-level outings, though, you have to wonder if he can come through big In the Santa Anita Derby and still have enough to win in Kentucky. I wouldn’t be heartbroken if he regressed slightly in his last prep outing. You also have to wonder if he can shine on the national stage despite being California-bred. Only four such horses have ever won the Kentucky Derby, and none have done it since 1962.
Candy Boy (+1800): In my eyes this is the biggest threat to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby. Trained by John Sadler and ridden by Gary Stevens, the connections couldn’t be better. He has been training well, but the biggest concern he faces is that he hasn’t run since Feb. 8. It could be very tough to shake off that rust. Unfortunately, he can’t just use this race as a tuneup for the next race because he likely won’t have enough points to even get into the Kentucky Derby field if he doesn’t finish at least third and probably second.
Samraat (+900): This New York-bred contender is unbeaten in five starts, including his last two against rival Uncle Sigh. He has yet to earn the major national recognition of some other unbeaten horses, though. That could change if he is the impressive winner of the Wood Memorial this weekend. The biggest overall concern, though, is that he needs to be on the lead early, and that’s a rough place to be in a speed-favoring Derby like this one is sure to be.
Social Inclusion (+800): Talk about a hard horse to judge, but he is an even harder one to ignore. He has run only twice in his career, and he won both. The second was stunning — he won a strong allowance race at Gulfstream Park by 10 lengths and set a track record. Is he a super-freak or just a nice horse who had a very good day? We’ll get our answer this weekend in the Wood Memorial. If you like him then jump on him at this price, because after another win this price will plummet.
Constitution (+1200): The Florida Derby winner has emerged as the star of a Todd Pletcher stable that isn’t quite as deep as it has been in recent years. He is lightly-raced and didn’t run at two. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without a two year old start, so that is an obvious trend. On the other hand, he showed far more maturity than you would expect when he got locked in a stretch duel with solid horses last time out and came out on top.
Tapiture (+1200): This horse is talented, though distance may be a slight concern. The only storyline anyone will care about, though, is trainer Steve Asmussen and his woes. Asmussen was busted by PETA for animal cruelty infractions, and he has been on a very hot seat since. He has fired staff and lost some key owners, but he has managed to keep this horse in his barn. Can he be at his best in the face of enormous scrutiny, or will circumstances be too much to overcome?
Ring Weekend (+3500): Graham Motion won the Derby in 2011 with Animal Kingdom after bringing his horse along a nontraditional path to the race. So, when we see another talented horse of his doing things differently than most, we have to pay attention. He’s been running on the smaller tracks in Florida, and he will make his last prep start on turf. The horse is talented and bred to run all day, so he is definitely one to watch.
Vicar`s In Trouble (+1000): The Louisiana Derby winner has done his work and is now just waiting for the Derby to start. The question for bettors is whether we should be impressed by his solid win against a decent field last time out or concerned that the closing fractions in that race were almost glacial.
Toast of New York (+3000): Sooner or later we are going to see a horse arrive from outside North America to steal this race. It’s inevitable given the talent and money invested in racing in Europe and the Middle East. While I doubt the winner of this year’s UAE Derby in Dubai will be that horse, he is well bred and talented, and his win was impressive. There are two big concerns to consider before betting on him, though. First, his connections seem hesitant to make the trip over, so his participation is far from a sure thing. Second, the UAE Derby was on a synthetic surface, and so were his best efforts, so it is far from certain that he would take to the dirt track at Churchill.
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