2014 Kentucky Derby Picks and Analysis - Longshot Derby Superfecta a Definite Possibility!
Kentucky Derby-G1, Race 11, Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 3, 2014
3-Year-Olds, 1 1/4-miles, Dirt, Purse: $2 Million
by Ken Strong, Kentucky Derby Handicapper, Predictem.com
2014 Kentucky Derby Picks
1. California Chrome
2. Wicked Strong –Best Value Bet
3. Dance With Fate –Live Longshot
4. Medal Count
5. Intense Holiday
2014 Kentucky Derby Analysis and Predictions
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California Chrome is the deserving favorite to win the 140th Kentucky Derby. He’s the most talented and accomplished horse in the field. But, while we’re making him our lukewarm selection to win, we’ll definitely be hedging our bets with longshot Kentucky Derby Superfectas, Trifectas and Exactas.
Why? Because California Chrome has a number of hurdles to overcome including his pedigree, a surface switch from Santa Anita dirt to Churchill Downs goo, and a huge field that could cause him trouble. Any one of those issues could get him beat at a short price. Still, with a clean trip stalking a duel, he’s the best horse.
California Chrome has already proven he doesn’t need the lead to win. He should be able to sit just back of what appears to be quite a few average speed horses and move to the lead into the stretch. Moving too early to take on the speed horses before they’re ready to quit on the turn for home, and being forced to battle for an eighth of a mile or more, would be a serious mistake for California Chrome in a field with some quality closers in possession of good stamina pedigrees, who also appear to be on the improve.
If jockey Victor Espinoza, who won the Kentucky Derby aboard War Emblem in 2002, can time his move on California Chrome perfectly, he should be able to open up in early stretch. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to power away from this field like he did in the Santa Anita Derby-G1, but it’s not impossible and there’s a reasonably good chance he’ll hold on to win.
In the Santa Anita Derby we took a shot against California Chrome with Candy Boy and he made us look stupid. We thought Candy Boy, who is also in this year’s Derby, was a decent horse. California Chrome made Candy Boy look like he was tied to a post at the top of the stretch in the Santa Anita Derby. And actually, even before the race, after having a good look at California Chrome in the post parade, we thought we’d made a mistake betting Candy Boy. We were right.
This year’s Kentucky Derby sets up with a number of horses looking like they want to be on or near the lead including Vicar’s In Trouble, Harry’s Holiday, Uncle Sigh, Samraat, General a Rod, Wildcat Red, Chitu and maybe even Ride On Curlin.
Sitting just behind that potentially crowded first flight will be Danza, California Chrome, Vinceremos, Tapiture and Candy Boy.
In the third flight will be some juicy longshots waiting for the speed to cave, including We Miss Artie, Dance With Fate, Medal Count, Intense Holiday, Commanding Curveand Wicked Strong. None of the speed horses look like they will be sticking around late.
We loved Wildcat Red in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby and he rewarded us with game first and second place finishes in those two races respectively, but he hasn’t been working quite as well as we’d hoped in Kentucky and there’s just too much other speed for him to contend with here. He may still be able to take care of the other speed, but he’ll have a difficult time going all the way after that at 1 1/4-miles.
Tapiture looks like he may have peaked already after an average fourth in the Arkansas Derby, and his trainer Steve Asmussen has been surrounded by controversy lately. If there is one speed horse that intrigues us just a little it’s Ride On Curlin, who keeps running better than we think he will. He might be an in-the-superfecta longshot with three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel aboard. Borel will likely try to get right to the rail early despite breaking from Post 19, and, well, he’s stolen this race more than once. In truth, we don’t like any of the speed horses to stick around late.
Our favorite among the deep closers is Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong, followed closely by Dance With Fate. Wicked Strong has been set up perfectly for this race by sharp trainer Jimmy Jerkens, son of possibly the best horseman ever to grace a thoroughbred backstretch, “Giant Killer” and Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. The younger Jerkens is an exceptional trainer in his own right, his horse has the pedigree to get the distance, and he should be rolling late in the drive when most of the others are tiring.
Dance With Fate comes into the Kentucky Derby of an impressive win in the Bluegrass over the Polytrack at Keeneland. In that race he let fellow Derby entrant Medal Count get the jump on him late on the turn for home,but easily went by that one in the stretch and looked good at the wire. While the Bluegrass has lost some of its luster as a Derby prep over the years because of the Polytrack, Kentucky Derby winners Street Sense (2007) and Animal Kingdom (2011) used it as a prep race. At 20-1 on the morning line he is the most appealing longshot in the field, and he might even go off at better odds than that.
Intense Holiday looked great winning the Risen Star then bounced of rail in the stretch in theLouisiana Derby while trying to catch lone speed horse and fellow Derby entrant Vicar’s In Trouble, who will definitely have more speed to contend with in here. Intense Holiday could rally for a piece based on the pace scenario.
The last potential closers we’ll mention are Danza and Candy Boy. Danza looked dynamite in his first try going further than seven furlongs when he took advantage of a perfect trip stalking a duel from the inside to romp away in the stretch going 1 1/8-miles in the Arkansas Derby. He’s certainly moving in the right direction but meets a tougher and much bigger field here. We bet Candy Boy in the Santa Anita Derby and California Chrome crushed him, but he deserves another chance to show us what he can do. With a perfect rating trip he could finish in the money.
We’re going to play numerous strange tickets in this year’s Kentucky Derby with a number of peaking longshots and hope we can cash for boxcars. We’ll be using California Chrome on our tickets just in case he does get the perfect trip he needs to win, but we’ll definitely be hoping our longshots get there.
In the first two positions in the Kentucky Derby Trifecta we’ll take California Chrome, Wicked Strong, Dance With Fate and Intense Holiday, with All in the third position. For the Kentucky Derby Superfecta, if we can find a few partners, we’ll add Medal Count and Danza to the mix in the second and third legs and use those same horses on the bottom with the addition of Tapiture, Wildcat Red, Ride On Curlin, Candy Boy and We Miss Artie. Additionally, we’ll play Kentucky Derby Trifecta and Exacta boxes that include California Chrome, Wicked Strong, Dance With Fate, Intense Holiday, Medal Count and Danza.
And one more set of bets. We’ll bet both Wicked Strong and Dance with Fate to win and place because of their odds, and wheel them both top and bottom in the Kentucky Derby Exactas.
Normally we wouldn’t spend this much on the Kentucky Derby, but because many of the horses we like will be improving longshots in a favorable pace scenario, and the fact that payoffs could be huge if California Chrome runs out of the money, we’re all in for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Crazy bets for a crazy race! Good luck!
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