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Blog - GAMBLING

Favored California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire)

The $2 million Grade 1 Kentucky Derby

May 3, Churchill Downs

By Bill Cloutier

Although the fastest two minutes in sports actually lasted a relatively pedestrian 2:03.66, it certainly won’t dampen the enthusiasm surrounding the future of California Chrome in his quest to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

California Chrome dominated the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Saturday at Churchill Downs in front of the second largest crowd in the race’s history. The Cal-bred favorite, ridden by Victor Espinoza, posted a comfortable 1 3/4-length win over late-running longshot Commanding Curve. Danza finished third.

California Chrome paid $7 to his backers winning for the fifth straight time and earning Art Sherman, the 77-year-old trainer, his first Derby win. Sherman likens his chestnut-colored colt to another Cal-bred named Swaps, who won the Run for the Roses in 1955. California Chrome’s connections turned down an offer of $6 million for 51% of the colt after he won the Santa Anita Derby.

California Chrome broke quickly but Espinoza took back and allowed Uncle Sigh and Chitu to set moderate fractions. As the field entered the final turn, California Chrome was three-wide in a group of horses in the lead pack that included Samraat, Uncle Sigh and Chitu but it was California Chrome who responded sharply when asked and put that group away with ease.

California Chrome earned a Hot List grade of “A” for his performance and should be a heavy favorite if things go smoothly heading into the Preakness on May 17. A field of 19 went to the post after Hoppertunity was scratched on Thursday and Pablo Del Monte, who was on the also eligible list, declined to run.

Candy Boy earned a grade of “D” taking a peculiar large hit at the windows. The Gary Stevens mount went down from 16-1 to 9-1 in the late stages of wagering, an incredible drop considering the vast amount of money in the win pool. Hot List handicappers rarely see such a drop in odds at Belmont Park on a Wednesday, thus for it happen in the Kentucky Derby is astonishing.

Candy Boy also encountered quite a bit of trouble clipping heels with another horse and had to check to the outside and finished 13th. Stevens said it was “a horrible trip” and he was lucky his horse didn’t fall.

The solid late run by Commanding Curve will certainly pique some interest if he enters the Belmont Stakes with its grueling distance and Wicked Strong earned a Hot List grade of “B” encountering traffic and finishing fourth.

Kentucky Derby Late Wagering Report

Horse

Odds 3 min. to post

Final Odds

1. Vicar's in Trouble

19-to-1

20-to-1

2. Harry's Holiday

41-to-1

44-to-1

3. Uncle Sigh

28-to-1

30-to-1

4. Danza

8-to-1

8-to-1

5. California Chrome

2-to-1

5-to-2

6. Samraat

15-to-1

16-to-1

7. We Miss Artie

25-to-1

27-to-1

8. General a Rod

29-to-1

30-to-1

9. Vinceremos

47-to-1

46-to-1

10. Wildcat Red

17-to-1

18-to-1

11. Hoppertunity

scratched

12. Dance With Fate

15-to-1

16-to-1

13. Chitu

25-to-1

25-to-1

14. Medal Count

24-to-1

26-to-1

15. Tapiture

35-to-1

35-to-1

16. Intense Holiday

13-to-1

14-to-1

17. Commanding Curve

35-to-1

37-to-1

18. Candy Boy

16-to-1

9-to-1

19. Ride On Curlin

16-to-1

17-to-1

20. Wicked Strong

6-to-1

6-to-1

The $1 million Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks

May 2, Churchill Downs

As it turns out the only suspense surrounding Friday's Kentucky Oaks was whether favorite Untapable would go off less than even money. The race itself was a yawner.

Now the real suspense begins.

Untapable, who many pundits believe would have been a major threat against the best 3-year-olds in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, breezed to an easy 4 1/2-length win paying exactly $4 for her backers in Friday's Kentucky Oaks. The Steve Asmussen charge sat off a relatively soft pace in the middle of the 12-horse field before making her move around the final turn to win for the fifth time in seven career starts.

UNTAPABLE CAPTURES THE KENTUCKY OAKS

Untapable

Jockey Rosie Napravnik, who has now won the Oaks two of the last three years, was basically a passenger most of the race, swinging her talented mount to the outside to match strides with Sugar Shock and My Miss Sophia before pulling away from the pair with little urging down the stretch. My Miss Sophia finished second, six lengths ahead of Unbridled Forever who rounded out the trifecta.

Whether Untapable could have challenged California Chrome and the rest of the boys in the Derby is still uncertain but there surely don’t seem to be any fillies in her class. The rout in the Oaks was Untapable's third straight win with the winning margins totaling a whopping 21 3/4 lengths.

And here's where it gets interesting. There are surely comparisons to be made between Untapable and Rachel Alexandra, who won the Oaks in 2009. Both entered the race in top form, won by daylight and were candidates for the Derby. But, after Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks by 20-1/4 lengths she then went on to enter -- and win – the Preakness Stakes. On Derby day, Asmussen said it was unlikely that Untapable would run in the Preakness and he was pinning his Triple Crown hopes on Tapiture, but the colt finished a dismal 15th. That could renew some interest in a trek to Pimlico.

Untapable earned another Hot List grade of "A" for her monstrous effort while runner-up My Miss Sophia earned a "B." The odds of all the runners took a mild late reduction when longshot Empress of Midway flipped in the starting gate and had to be scratched. The filly was no worse for the wear and despite the late scratch no runner jumped enough or took enough late money to earn a Hot List odds grade.

 Kentucky Oaks Late Wagering Report

Horse

Odds 3 min. to post

Final Odds

1. Please Explain

49-to-1

52-to-1

2. Ria Antonia

9-to-1

10-to-1

3. Sugar Shock

9-to-1

11-to-1

4. Rosalind

9-to-1

8-to-1

5. Thank You Marylou

19-to-1

17-to-1

6. Kiss Moon

40-to-1

44-to-1

7. Fashion Plate

12-to-1

12-to-1

8. Aurelia's Belle

40-to-1

42-to-1

9. Unbridled Forever

14-to-1

13-to-1

10. Empress of Midway

52-to-1

Late Scratch

11. My Miss Sophia

5-to-1

5-to-1

12. Got Lucky

26-to-1

26-to-1

13. Untapable

Even

Even

The Hot List, founded by turf writer/handicapper Bob Ehalt in 2011, blends a detailed analysis of a race with late wagering trends to pick out the horses with the best chance of running a winning race in their next start. Hot List horses are rated in four lettered categories:

A: A preferred horse to watch off his effort in the race
B: A secondary horse to watch off his effort in the race
*C: Went down 2 or more betting notches in the final minutes of wagering and finished 1st through 3rd
*D: Went down 2 or more betting notches in the final minutes of wagering and finished 4th or worse
* - 4 or more betting notches if 11-1 or more.

For questions on the Hot List, email: nyhotlist@gmail.com

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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