After the post draw, the favorites for the 140th Kentucky Derby had changed very little, prompting some to lock in their bets and others to second-guess.
Heavy favorite and Santa Anita Derby winner California Chrome remains a solid 5-2 favorite after drawing the fifth position. Many handicappers feel he’s a safe bet, as his jockey Victor Espinoza is a seasoned veteran. Sired by Lucky Pulpit, making him a great-grandsire of the legendary A.P. Indy, this gives California Chrome a serious jolt in the bloodline. His trainer Art Sherman has a magnificent record in his long career, and there’s no reason to believe he will give anything but a top-level performance.
Trainer Bob Baffert is usually a fixture in Triple Crown races and had originally entered two horses in the Derby. After scratching Hoppertunity, his only entry will be the 20-1 Chitu. Having the one horse, and that horse being at longer odds, makes his building rivalry with trainer Todd Pletcher only that much more interesting.
While California Chrome is an obvious favorite, there is reason to balk at an obvious 5-19-4 trifecta with the lesser favored Wicked Strong and Danza. Wicked Strong is a solid entry, ridden by jockey Rajiv Maragh and trained by Jimmy Jerkens. He made a great showing, taking first at the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and has shown he can pace well.
What spoils that wager is the Pletcher trained entry, Danza. Despite some handicappers scoffing at his Arkansas Derby win coming from a choice position, one needs to remember who is training him. Furthermore, his jockey Joe Bravo is simply one tough customer.
With that factor, and another Pletcher horse Intense Holiday entering at 10-1 with something to prove, Danza simply does not belong in anyone’s trifecta.
Another long-shot to keep an eye on is the 15-1 Candy Boy. With all the other factors, Candy Boy stands a good chance at breaking some hearts, as he’s ridden by legendary jockey and all-around tough guy Gary Stevens. On a great mount on long odds, there’s nothing Stevens can’t do and to count out any horse he rides at medium odds is a mistake.
While California Chrome is clearly the favorite, with Wicked Strong destined to be in the winning trifecta, a safe consideration would be to resist the favorites bet and remember how the Derby always plays out.