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Pete’s Kentucky Derby Pick: California Chrome

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 5/2/2014 10:50:35 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Danza, California Chrome, Dance With Fate, Intense Holiday, Candy Boy, Wicked Strong

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Kentucky Derby

Where: Churchill Downs

When: Saturday, May 3rd

Nineteen will head postward for the 140th Running of The Kentucky Derby, due to the scratch of #11-Hoppertunity and the decision of the connections of also-eligible #21-Pablo Del Monte to skip the race. West Coast flash California Chrome will be favored, but several others figure to attract plenty of support, including Danza, Intense Holiday and Wicked Strong. Let’s take a closer look at the 2014 Run for the Roses below.

#4-Danza (10-1) pulled off a shocker in The Arkansas Derby, drawing off by nearly five lengths at 41-1, and earning a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in the process. He’s been full of energy since arriving at Churchill Downs, so it seems more likely that he’ll duplicate that effort, rather than regress. Joe Bravo retains the mount, and you’ll note that the jockey/trainer combo of Bravo/Pletcher has clicked at a win rate of 24% in 2013/14, with a lofty ROI of $2.90. Danza is lightly raced, so at this point, there’s no telling where his ceiling is. Ignore at your peril.

#5-California Chrome (5-2) has been on an incredible roll since late December, winning his last four starts by a combined 25 ¼ lengths. His winning streak coincides with the arrival of jockey Victor Espinoza, who will be aboard again the Derby. CC can lead or stalk, so Post #5 should work out just fine for him. He owns the field’s top two Beyers (108, 107), both going long, and wasn’t pushed hard in either race. You’ll also note that he’s won 3-of-6 on synthetic surfaces, so he doesn’t have to carry his track around with him. Some may question the horse’s breeding and stamina, but if you look at his Tomlinson Distance Figure (293), you’ll see that he ranks 5th (out of 19) in the Derby field, and he sure doesn’t finish his races like a horse with distance limitations. The competition in California has been stout…at least as formidable as the new foes he’ll confront on Saturday, so he should be up to the task. With an alert beginning, this guy will be tough to derail.

#12-Dance With Fate (20-1) punched his ticket to the Derby with a win in The Blue Grass. He has made an excellent impression on racetrack observers this week, but you have to wonder if he can be anywhere near as effective on dirt. His top dirt Beyer of 74, which he earned with a second-place finish in last year’s Grade 1 Front Runner at Santa Anita, doesn’t begin to make a dent in this spot.

The “wise-guy horse” is shaping up to be #16-Intense Holiday (12-1), who has worked as well as any horse in the Derby field since arriving at Churchill Downs, plus he gets trainer Pletcher’s “go-to” guy in jockey John Velazquez for the first time on Saturday. Still, this horse strikes me as a grinder…good enough to grab a share, but not dynamic enough to capture the big prize.

I’ve liked #18-Candy Boy (20-1) all along, and was surprised when he could do no better than third in the Santa Anita Derby. He may have needed the race, however, and was kept a bit too close to the pace as well. He has looked great at Churchill Downs, is plenty fit, and should get a better trip from farther back in the pack, where he can bide his time before making his run. Trainer John Sadler seems to excel with horses flying just under the radar…I’ll be using Candy Boy in the exotics.

#20-Wicked Strong (8-1) shouldn’t be bothered much by the outside post…he’ll have ample time to find a position on the long run to the first turn. He’s another who has made a good impression since his arrival from New York, and should get an honest pace to set up his closing bid. He fits on the Beyer scale, and could have a major say in the outcome if he matches or exceeds his winning performance in The Wood Memorial.

I’ll bet on #5-California Chrome to win The Kentucky Derby at odds of 2-1 or better. I’ll key him on top of the 4, 16, 18 and 20 in the exacta, and key him again on top of those horses in the trifecta .

Those are my horse racing betting tips for the 140th Kentucky Derby. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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