2014 Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
2014 Kentucky Derby Replay
It was a fun two days and we hope you cashed some tickets, see you in two weeks for the Preakness!
All of a sudden Kentucky Derby time has rolled around and you haven’t been paying attention. For shame, especially when we’ve made it easy for you with our Derby Prep Alert!
Paying attention to the prep season is certainly one of the better ways to feel prepared for the Derby, but because we like you, we want you to feel ready for the big day (but subscribe to the Derby Prep Alert for next year, ok?). And if you’re looking for charts for all this year’s Kentucky Derby preps, try our schedule page!
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of this year’s field by post position including the morning line odds.
1. Vicar’s In Trouble (20-1) – The Louisiana Derby winner finally put it all together when he took the field wire to wire. Not only did he set a solid pace, he also successfully repelled Risen Star winner Intense Holiday. He does his best running on or near the lead, which will come in handy breaking from post 1. That said he hasn’t made the best impression in the mornings at Churchill Downs.
2. Harry’s Holiday (50-1) – This longshot is one of only three with a win over the Churchill Downs main track, albeit in a Maiden Claimer. His best effort to date was an inspired 2nd in the Spiral Stakes when We Miss Artie nipped him on the wire, but he followed that up with an equally uninspiring 13th in the Blue Grass Stakes.
3. Uncle Sigh (30-1) – Spent the winter running a game 2nd to Samraat at Aqueduct in the Withers and Gotham but couldn’t overcome a bad start in the Wood to finish a non-threatening 5th. He’s one of several running for a good cause, with a percentage of his earnings helping wounded veterans. Perhaps the addition of blinkers will help him focus, and do some good!
4. Danza (8-1) – SHOW (3rd) – The lightly raced upset winner of the Arkansas Derby has received glowing reports from Churchill in the morning, showing no signs of regression after his big win. While he did have an easy inside trip, he was incredibly game and pulled away to win by almost five lengths. He also has one of the better pedigrees for the distance.
5. California Chrome (5-2) – WINNER – The morning line favorite dusted all comers in California in his last four races by a total of 24+ lengths. He did look terrific winning the Santa Anita Derby by 5+ lengths and doesn’t need to lead to win. But, one has to wonder if it would have been beneficial for him to put in at least one workout at Churchill Downs given the difference in surfaces from his home base of Los Alamitos.
6. Samraat (15-1) – Wicked Strong ended his perfect five-race win streak last out in the Wood Memorial. The good news is that he didn’t give up and appeared to have something left in the tank after the race. That said he does not have one of the better pedigrees for the distance.
7. We Miss Artie (50-1) – His three efforts on dirt don’t inspire too much confidence that he’ll reproduce his scintillating synthetic surface and turf form on Derby day. His final work over the Churchill main track was categorized as “disappointing” by both onlookers and trainer Todd Pletcher. On the bright side his pedigree isn’t a total “forget about it,” at least from a distance perspective!
8. General a Rod (15-1) – The Gulfstream Park Derby winner has yet to win a graded stakes and has never finished out of the money (worse than third). His game second in the Fountain of Youth was not followed up by an equally inspiring performance in the Florida Derby as he couldn’t quite get the dueling pair of Constitution and Wildcat Red. The addition of blinkers in the mornings has garnered reports of improved performances, and the last minute purchase by Intense Holiday owners Starlight Racing is certainly a sign of their confidence for an improved performance.
9. Vinceremos (30-1) – It’s easy to toss the Sam Davis winner’s last effort, finishing second to last in the Blue Grass, as a failed synthetic experiment. He’s not the flashiest of trainer Todd Pletcher’s four entries and doesn’t have a great distance pedigree but he certainly held his own against the well-regarded Danza in his last work at Churchill.
10. Wildcat Red (15-1) – The gutsy Fountain of Youth winner has not inspired confidence that he’ll transfer his form from his speed-favoring home base of Gulfstream Park during morning works at Churchill. On the bright side he does his best work in a duel and is one of the speed horses who does not need to lead.
Hoppertunity (6-1) SCRATCHED – This year’s “Apollo’s curse” horse (the horse who didn’t race as a 2-year-old) gamely defeated the well-regarded Tapiture in the Rebel Stakes but had no answer for California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby. He’s been making a strong appearance in the mornings at Churchill, especially in his final work on Monday, and does have one of the better pedigrees for the distance.
12. Dance With Fate (20-1) – This Californian probably isn’t getting the attention he deserves because of California Chrome, but his impressive win in the Blue Grass puts him squarely on the map. Factor that he’s displayed previous good form on dirt, received good reviews at Churchill and he could interesting. He does have one thing in common with California Chrome though: a questionable pedigree for the distance.
13. Chitu (20-1) – On career stats and connections alone he looks like a solid contender, add to the mix that Midnight Hawk, who he beat last out in the Sunland Derby, put in a game effort in Illinois Derby a few weeks ago. That said he hasn’t gotten rave reviews with his local appearances in the morning despite having one of the better pedigrees for the distance.
14. Medal Count (20-1) – As impressive as Dance with Fate was in the Blue Grass, he might have been the better horse in that Dance with Fate had an inside trip and he came six wide. Factor in Keeneland’s short stretch and his effort was notable. Heâ€™s one of the starters without proven dirt form but has been making a good appearance in the mornings over the Churchill main track.
15. Tapiture (12-1) – The only contender with a graded stakes win at Churchill Downs looked like a colt on his way to Derby favoritism in his Southwest win in February. He then ran a game 2nd to Hoppertunity in the Rebel but threw a clunker in the Arkansas Derby, finishing a non-threatening 4th. To his credit he’s garnered favorable reviews all week and certainly seems like he could return to his earlier good form.
16. Intense Holiday (8-1) – Coming into the stretch of the Louisiana Derby the Risen Star winner seemed poised to do it again but couldn’t get to wire-to-wire victor Vicar’s in Trouble. Was it a clunker or was the Risen Star his shining moment? The way he’s been training at Churchill the answer appears to be “clunker.”
17. Commanding Curve (50-1) – PLACE (2nd) – This Churchill Downs maiden winner lucked into the field after a series of defections meant the 20 points he scored running third in the Louisiana Derby stamped his ticket. In that effort he made up a lot of ground to almost catch a tiring Intense Holiday. He’s been a mixed bag in the morning, getting favorable reviews for his gallops but turning in an uninspiring final work. Considering his under the radar decent form and that trainer Dallas Stewart grabbed 2nd place last year with the last minute entry Golden Soul, he might be worth consideration for your exotic tickets.
18. Candy Boy (15-1) – He appeared to have the best shot at ending California Chrome’s winning streak in the Santa Anita Derby but he didn’t reproduce the same late kick that earned him the Robert Lewis win. Since arriving at Churchill he’s received favorable reviews and appears to be handling the Churchill main track beautifully, making him the California horse with the most upside (and probably the best price!).
19. Ride On Curlin (15-1) – He’s been knocking on the door all winter, running 2nd and 3rd in his three graded Derby preps as well as running 2nd and 3rd at Churchill Downs. Will being reunited with jockey Calvin Borel who was aboard for his only two wins help him finally put it all together on the big stage? He’s certainly received favorable reviews in the morning and does have an above average pedigree for the distance.
20. Wicked Strong (6-1) – Be prepared for the upset winner of the Wood Memorial to take wicked money from Boston players as a portion of his earnings will be donated to the One Fund. Despite looking a tad green in the stretch of the Wood, his subsequent workouts seem to indicate that he’s getting good at the right time, but it remains to be seen if drawing the 20th post position will be a hindrance.
Pablo Del Monte (50-1) – SCRATCHED