The ‘Run for the Roses’–aka the Kentucky Derby–will take place on Saturday afternoon at Louisville’s Churchill Downs race track. Favorite California Chrome will face 18 other equine challengers in the first leg of the Triple Crown. The race is the culmination of months of preparation and anticipation and justly deserves its sobriquet as ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’.
The consensus in the horse racing world heading in to the Kentucky Derby is that California Chrome is head and shoulders above the rest of the field, at least ‘on paper’. He won the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby in spectacular fashion and in the process posted Beyer speed figures of 107 and 108. Only one other three year old horse has posted more than one triple digit Beyer figure (Utapable, a filly that dominated in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks) and only 13 three year olds have posted a triple digit Beyer figure at all. California Chrome is a 2-1 betting choice as of early Saturday afternoon and will start from post number 5. This is a very desirable post position near the middle of the race track which should allow Chrome to get good early position. His connections had hoped for positions 6 through 10 but they were clearly pleased when the #5 hole announcement was made on Wednesday.
The current second choice in betting is Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong at 7-1. Historically, the Wood Memorial winner has fared well in the Kentucky Derby though that hasn’t been the case in the past decade or so. Wicked Strong will be looking to reverse that trend. Next up is Danza, surprise winner of the Arkansas Derby who is 9-1 and will have the added benefit of being cheered on by his namesake TV actor Tony Danza. There is a trio of horses behind Danza on the betting board with Samraat, Dance With Fate and Intense Holiday all at 14-1.
The Kentucky Derby is the top race of the year for three year old thoroughbreds and is the first leg of horse racing’s ‘Triple Crown’. The race will be watched by over 100,000 fans live at the track along with millions viewing the event on TV around the world.