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California Chrome: Spring Star to Kentucky Derby Dud? It Could Happen

Chrome Friesan Fire 615 X 400
Photo: Benoit Photos / Eclipse Sportswire


Anyone who has been at least casually following the Derby Trail, undoubtedly sees California Chrome as the one to beat in the 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1). He’s won 6 of 10 lifetime starts, including a perfect 4 for 4 as a 3-year-old, with a combined winning margin of 24¼ lengths.

Horse racing geeks who like to spew their knowledge on social media have been posting such lunacy as “… we’ll be lucky to get 6-5 on him” and “best 3-year-old since Seattle Slew”. Last weekend after the final Derby two prep races, the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said he’d put California Chrome at odds of 4-1 or 5-1 right now. “I think he’s a pretty solid favorite right now,” he said. “The Santa Anita (Derby) was kind of a romp.

Interesting word choice… romp. Often used by horseplayers to describe a decisive victory. The margin in the Santa Anita Derby was 5¼ lengths. I’d say that qualifies as a “romp”, wouldn’t you?!

Therein lies the problem for California Chrome. A romp in a 3-year-olds final Derby prep race has not translated into a blanket of roses on the first Saturday in May. Over the past quarter century, not one Kentucky Derby winner had won his previous race in a “romp” (more than 5 lengths), yet there have been plenty who ran.




 

You won’t find the above stats on the worldwide web, at least not in one location. They were compiled by my research staff… me, myself and I. Results from the AR Derby, FL Derby, LA Derby, SA Derby, Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes were perused. The cutoff date was 1991 as Equibase.com only offers free historical results charts back to that year for major stakes races.

A concerted effort was made to obtain the margin of victory for all six Derby preps listed above, but not all of the media guides included “margin of victory” among the stats for that tracks signature race. Of those who did provide this stat, many more “winners in a romp” were found who failed to win the Kentucky Derby. In the 80’s alone there was Snow Chief (1986), Chief’s Crown (1985) and Althea (1984), all Kentucky Derby Post Time favorites.

That’s the fascinating fact about this Derby “angle”. It’s not as if these Derby Disappointers were longshots. On the contrary, many were among the top 3 betting choices.

For the record, Sunday Silence was the last Kentucky Derby winner to have romped in his final prep, by 11 lengths in the 1989 Santa Anita Derby. Is California Chrome as good as or better than Sunday Silence? That’s for you decide as you make your Kentucky Derby wagers.

 

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Older Comments about California Chrome: Spring Star to Kentucky Derby Dud? It Could Happen...

this is going to be predicted by the weather, no doubt about it. A month ago the talk was about Prince Ciro. Every day every track is different. Go for the horse and jockey that you feel is the best for the track on derby day.If it were 4 or 6 horses thats a race this will besurvival of the fittest!
emulating LUkas? Wow what a terrible role model
California Chrome has a chance, I would never bet against him! How many times has a favorite won? Wouldnt you be upset as well as a lot of people being led off the favorite and he wins. Just think of all the prople who chase odds and a low paying favorite comes in and the experts were right in this ONE SINGLE RACE I say, Listen to your heart and your gut, it is your money! I rather lose my money myself not by listening to somebody else, its not their money... This is life where anything canhappen and when just you think it cant happen it does. I've been around to know the odds are in the favorites favor. Let the fav get beat by the better horse but California Chrome is a big task and the big field B.S. the best will go to the lead and be fast enough to get out of the way and relax and finis strong my friend! Like W. Lucas, I'm a basketball coach for years too. Odds in your favor, you'll thank me later. Peace
California Chrome has a chance, I would never bet against him! How many times has a favorite won? Wouldnt you be upset as well as a lot of people being led off the favorite and he wins. Just think of all the prople who chase odds and a low paying favorite comes in and the experts were right in this ONE SINGLE RACE I say, Listen to your heart and your gut, it is your money! I rather lose my money myself not by listening to somebody else, its not their money... This is life where anything canhappen and when just you think it cant happen it does. I've been around to know the odds are in the favorites favor. Let the fav get beat by the better horse but California Chrome is a big task and the big field B.S. the best will go to the lead and be fast enough to get out of the way and relax and finis strong my friend! Like W. Lucas, I'm a basketball coach for years too. Odds in your favor, you'll thank me later. Peace
No Chalk Zone is full of B.S. I won a $300 bet on Wayne Lukas in 1988 on a filly Winning Colors who had beat the boys by 5 lenths in the Santa Anita Derby BEFORE WINNING The Kentucky Derby! She won a grade 1 before the SA Derby too. You Can't Dis Snowcheif, He won the 1 Mil Hollywood futurity Gr 1 after comming 3rd in first race at Del Mar going 2 turns! Then won the Hol Futruity by 7 to 8 lenths! won the Northfork stakes at SA GR.1 in the rain by 5 L. And the SA Derby by 4 to 5 L. but was sick and Fernand won the Derby that year But could not beat Snowcheif who destroyed the field & Ferdnand at the Prekness then went 1 month later and won the 3 Million GR.1 Jersey Derby and won horse of the year. Snow cheif was in the money and not off the charts 95% of the time when Alex Solis rode him, So you can't discount a horse fortune if he romps in the race before! No Lie. Chrismatic is another one. So Check your records friend!
I LIKE CALIFORNIA CROME TO WINN ALSO COUPLE LONG SHOTS RIDE ON CULIN/DANZA
Quarter horses are the worst throwing clods of dirt upwards of 20 to 30 feet as they dig in to get their stride going.
california chrome favorito..pero no olvidarse de wildcat red.. 2º en el florida derby track record..es muy rápido,tiene una salida fulgurante.. y puede ir primero."si el entrenador y el jockey hacen que se pegue a los palos.. "en florida derby hizo mas de 150 metros que otro caballo"... es vergonzoso algunos jockeys y preparadores... //california chrome.suele salir bien..pero wildcat es un boom saliendo.
dirt flies when horses are just getting their feet underneath them. Watch the start of any race from BEHIND.....Every time and since the majority are on equal terms, it usually makes little to no difference to them
THE CHROME MONSTER has to overcome that horrible dirt just out of the starting gate, so thick, why don't thye fix it? It cost Zenyatta her race - my opinion of course. But I've seen Chrome in person & he has what it takes. And Victor is the right pilot! He can be patient & Chrome will respond or if he does break good - sorry folks its all over.
the biggest problem for CCand others will be not shipping to churchill early read what charlie whittingham said to mel stute in 1986 about getting to churchill early he didnt listen to charlie and snow chief wasnt ready charlie shipped early and ferdinand took it to them the trainers that dont ship in early are putting their horses at a distinct disadvantage as for CC he has never shipped at all and the trauma of that could cost him dearly the horse to watch out for at this point is tapiture he had his bad race and still finished 4th with that behind him and proper preparation lookout
  • quillg · Amen DD! you must psychic! What you have stated was going to be part of another pre-Derby blog entry of mine. I'm not a HATER. I think CC IS the best 3-yo-old heading to the Derby, but I'm just sending up the yellow flags for folks to stop and think. Thanks for your comment. · 464 days ago
its gonna be a dog fight past the grand stands the first time, and cat fight bringing it home.
after the fact fantasy: alive and well and they weren't EVEN THERE!!
This may be a bit ambitious but I think he could have pushed 1:46 - it's not very often a horse loses by 5.5 lengths and you like him more off the effort which is the case with Hoppertunity
I have never seen a top horse get so mugged as in the 2007 derby. Curlin was in a bad post position and it seemed that several horses went out of their way to run him into the rail. When Street Sense made his move, the opposite seemed to be true, horses moved over to let him pass inside. It was not from lack of foundation that beat Curlin, it was the way the race was run. Beore the race, just about every trainer was asked if it got down to their horse and one other, which one would it be? They all answered Curlin. They rightfully feared him. He did lose a couple other races that year, but not at ten furlongs.
  • marylandgq · Agreed Buteo, but that's the perils of the Kentucky Calvary Charge! It's not a horse race, it's a stampede where anything goes and way to often the best horse in THIS contest doesn't win, it's the one who gets the best/cleanest trip. · 465 days ago
Big Brown woThe Florida Derby by 5+ lengths that means it was a romp and went on to win The Kentucky Derby. I was wondering why 2008 was skipped n the above list. So it wasn't Sunday Silence it was Big Brown, talk steriods all you want but until they take those wins away from the connections he is the last 3yr old to do it.
  • marylandgq · James (and Bob who stated the same), Big Brown won FL Derby by EXACTLY 5. MY qualification for a "romp" was MORE THAN 5 LENGTHS. Am I splitting hairs? Yes, but that's what one can do with statistics to make a point or as others might call it, Artistic License. · 465 days ago
I love CC and hope he wins, but am concerned about the huge field, the weather, the post position, jockeys gunning for him, etc. It's not always just about the horse. So far, not a single contender has come close to his time in the SAD. He's 2+ seconds above all of them for 1 1/8 on dirt and that 'romp' was a 'breeze-in' from about 50+ yards out. Makes me wonder what the time would be if he worked at it a little for those last yards.
I love CC and hope he wins, but am concerned about the huge field, the weather, the post position, jockeys gunning for him, etc. It's not always just about the horse. So far, not a single contender has come close to his time in the SAD. He's 2+ seconds above all of them for 1 1/8 on dirt and that 'romp' was a 'breeze-in' from about 50+ yards out. Makes me wonder what the time would be if he worked at it a little for those last yards.
that was not a colt but a bag of anabolic steroids running

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