Much remains unknown about the field for the 2014 Kentucky Derby–at this point it’s unclear which horses will even be running in the race, let alone which ones will be the favorite. But there is definitely growing support for California Chrome, winner of the San Felipe Stakes. He has assumed the lead in the National Thoroughbred Association 3-year-old Poll for the week ending March 30.
California Chrome wrested the lead from Cairo Prince for week 4 of the voting. Cairo Prince dropped from first to ninth after finishing fourth in last Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. California Chrome received 25 first-place votes and 439 points. Cairo Prince had been the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite for much of the year but has fallen from favor over the past couple of months due to some setbacks in training and the disappointing finish in last Saturday’s race.
Candy Boy–likely to run in the Santa Anita Derby is now second with Florida Derby winner Constitution in third. Constitution is trained by Todd Pletcher and really burst on to the scene with his impressive win at Gulfstream Park. Constitution had been ignored for much of the spring due to his lightly raced background but Pletcher suggested that makes his rise all the more impressive:
“I’m very, very proud of him. It’s a testament to the quality of horse he is to go from a maiden to an allowance to a Grade 1 and to show a different running style and get some dirt in his face and put in an effort like that against much more seasoned horses.”
Samraat remains fourth and will start in the $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday. Wildcat Red was a big gainer jumping from eighth to fifth after finishing second to Constitution by neck in the Florida Derby. Trained by Jose Garoffalo, Wildcat Red picked up one first-place vote and 226 points.
The prep races of the previous weekend–primarily the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby–and the upcoming weekend–primarily the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial–will go a long way toward shaping the Kentucky Derby field. An impressive showing by an entrant in these races could easily surpass California Chrome for status of Kentucky Derby favorite.