In the last few days before the 2014 Kentucky Derby, you could have grabbed California Chrome at 8-1, as the co-fifth choice in the brand new Horse of the Year Award future wager offered by William Hill. That was then, this is now.
Now, 2 1/2 weeks later, and with impressive wins in the Derby and the Preakness in the rear-view mirror, the talented chestnut has not only ran into the hearts of millions of fans, but he has moved out all alone in the HOTY race, according to Vegas oddsmakers.
California Chrome is now listed at -125 on the money line. A style of odds more familiar to sports gamblers, than to racing bettors, at -125, you would need to wager $125 in order to come out $100 ahead. Any amount can be wagered, though, so a $12.50 ticket would pay off $22.50. In other words, Chrome has dropped from 8-1, half a month ago, to approximately 4-5 now.
Meanwhile, Wise Dan, who was the 4-1 favorite pre-Derby favorite, as the reigning two-time Horse of the Year, saw his odds shoot up after going through emergency colic surgery last week. Now recuperating from the ordeal, the back-to-back winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile is currently listed at 12-1. Tasty odds if you believe the seven-year-old gelding can come back as good as ever once he returns to training at Keeneland.
The new second choice, and a clear one at that, is Palace Malice. Now 4-1 in Nevada, the son of Curlin is scheduled to join California Chrome on the Belmont Stakes card, when he headlines the $1.25 million Met Mile. The new leader of the older male division is now 3-for-3 in 2014, and is coming off an overpowering win in the Westchester against a small and overmatched field.
Over the years, the Older Dirt Male division has been the most likely place to find a Horse of the Year, although they have been shut out for five consecutive years. Despite that slump, many of the horses closest to California Chrome in odds come from this group, including the reigning two-time champ come from this division, including older stalwarts Game On Dude, Mucho Macho Man, and Will Take Charge all now listed at 10-1.
If you tend to side with the fairer sex, you can find pretty attractive odds on the superstar sophomore filly, Untapable. Undefeated this season, and a romping winner of the prestigious Kentucky Oaks in her latest, she currently stands at 14-1 on the William Hill list. It's been few and far between for three-year-old fillies to be named Horse of the Year, but Rachel Alexandra did the deed just five years ago.
Looking to join Zenyatta and Havre de Grace as recent older females to win the honor, are a trio of highly successful four-year old fillies. Beholder at 20-1, Close Hatches (25-1), and Princess of Sylmar (30-1) each offer solid odds to those who believe we could have our fourth female HOTY in six years. Happily for racefans, all three are currently on target for a showdown in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, also on Belmont Stakes Day, June 7.
Of course, this race could be all but over in a matter of another 2 1/2 weeks, as one of the surest ways to win the Horse of the Year is to win the Triple Crown. If California Chrome can achieve what hasn’t been done in 36 years, the Horse of the Year Award, even at 4-5, should be money in the bank.