While there are many fascinating aspects of the Kentucky Derby, none are bigger than picking the winning horse. Almost everyone that watches the race will be predicting which contender will take down the Run for the Roses. While some do it for pride, others do it to try and win some serious money. That just adds to the thrill each year.
Before you can make your Derby picks, you must first put in the necessary research to narrow down the field to the horses that you actually believe have a chance to win the race. I have narrowed it down seven horses that I believe have at least a chance to finish first in “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports”.
I’m going to go through and list these seven horses that will be in the field for the 2014 Kentucky Derby. I’m also going to give reasons why each has a shot to win on Saturday, May 3rd at Churchill Downs. I have listed the betting odds on each horse as well. Now, it’s your job to take in this information and use it to your advantage to pick the winner. Be sure to check out my Kentucky Derby picks at the bottom of this writing.
California Chrome (5/2)
The favorite for a reason. California Chrome has won four straight races in jaw-dropping fashion. All four of his wins have come by 5-plus lengths, so it’s not like any horse has even challenged him. His Brisnet pace figures show that he’s the only horse in this year’s Derby field to run a pace line at the Derby par or better. He has done so in each of his last two races with triumphs at the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and the Grade 2 San Felipe.
Wicked Strong (7/1)
Just go check out Wicked Strong’s 3 1/2-length victory at the Grade 1 Wood Memorial over previously unbeaten Samraat, and you’ll have no other choice but to love this horse. He is at his best when he is several lengths off the lead pack, and in my opinion, he’s the best closer in the field. His versatility with being able to sit anywhere from a length to four lengths back of the leader the entire race makes him a must-play in the Kentucky Derby.
Put his name on the map by winning as a 41/1 underdog at the Arkansas Derby. That effort has him as one of the favorite wise guy picks this week leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He took seven months off prior to that April 12 performance in which he beat fellow Derby contender Ride on Curlin by a whopping 4 3/4 lengths. So, he should be rested and ready to go.
Bob Baffert’s horse won the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes before finishing second to Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. If California Chrome is the best horse in the field, then Hoppertunity’s second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby deserves consideration. He has run his best races when he has been able to get out of the gate up near the lead in the early stages, but he hasn’t fared as well when he has dropped back early.
Intense Holiday (16/1)
I simply love closers in the Kentucky Derby, hands down. He is a grinder as well, and he has been improving leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He finished 3rd in the Grade 2 Holy Bulls, 1st in the Grade 2 Risen State, and 2nd in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. If he gets something to run at in the Kentucky Derby, which he should considering the amount of horses that like to set the pace, then his chances will greatly improve on race day.
Dance With Fate (20/1)
This horse is getting a lot of negativity leading up to the Kentucky Derby bases on his lack of success on the dirt. All three of Dance With Fate’s career victories have come over a synthetic or turf surface. However, his nine-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over dirt was the result of a trouble-filled start that saw him spot the field 11 lengths in the first quarter mile. One race prior he finished a good second to Bond Holder in the Front Runner on the dirt. I’m not going to let that one poor performance on dirt steer me away from this horse.
My favorite long shot in the field, Chitu is currently listed at 33/1 odds to win. I like his last two performances with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis and a first-place finish in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. However, what I’m most intrigued about is this colt’s pedigree. Henny Hughes is on top with A.P. Indy’s mare Sea Gift on bottom. Chitu has stamina on the dam’s side and dirt speed on the top side. Sea Gift won her lone career race over 10 furlongs on the grass in England.
**Note – I have picked the past two Kentucky Derby Winners with Orb (7/2) in 2013 and I’ll Have Another (12/1) in 2012 with my ‘Win’ selections.
2014 Kentucky Derby Picks
- Win – Wicked Strong (7/1)
- Place – California Chrome (5/2)
- Show – Dance With Fate (20/1)