The 140th running of the Kentucky Derby is quickly approaching and colt California Chrome has emerged as the front runner.
The race will take place Saturday, May 3 from the legendary Churchill Downs in Louisville. California Chrome claimed his fourth straight stakes win at the Santa Anita Derby last weekend to become the odds on favorite to win the first of the Triple Crown races at 3/1, according to Bovada.lv.
Constitution is next-up at 8/1, followed by Vicars In Trouble at 10/1, Toast of New York and Cairo Prince both at 14/1 and Bayern at 16/1.
Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, the blazing California Chrome won the Santa Anita by an astounding five and a quarter lengths. He also proved victorious in the San Felipe race last month.
California Chrome’s lineage isn’t directly derived from horse racing’s elite, but deep branches of his ancestry do include the 1955 Kentucky Derby winner and Hall of Famer Swaps, as well as Iron Liege and Clyde Van Dusen.
Cairo Prince, on the other hand, sports a very rich pedigree but he hasn’t been nearly as successful as California Chrome or qualified for the Derby as of yet. He placed fourth in the Florida Derby last month after a nine-week layover, but was victorious at the Holy Bull earlier this year.
As the race nears, Cairo Prince could move up the rankings due to his blood line and if and when he qualifies. His great-grandsire is Unbridled, who won the Derby in 1990, and his grandsire Empire Maker and sire Pioneer of the Nile both finished second at the Running of the Roses.
Another contender with an excellent pedigree is Wicked Strong. The three-year-old colt calls previous Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winner Charismatic his mare, and provided plenty of drama in his upset win at the Wood Memorial at the Aqueduct last weekend to wrap up a spot in this year’s Derby.
Wicked Strong was reportedly viewed as a project for trainer Jimmy Jerkens after he finished in ninth-place at Holy Bull and fourth place at Gulfstream Park a year ago, according to the New York Times. However, Wicked Strong possesses a late kick that could propel him to victory at Churchill Downs amongst a pack of front-runners.
Three other would-be contestants were actually all sired by Tapit, who finished ninth behind Smarty Jones at the 2004 Derby but has since become the leading sire in the country.
His progeny include Derby hopefuls Constitution, Tapiture and Ring Weekend. Constitution recently took home the Florida Derby and is trained by Todd Pletcher, who won at Churchill Downs with Super Daver back in 2010.
Tapiture has already had success at Churchill Downs, winning the Kentucky Jockey Club in November and the Iroquois in September of last year. He also won the Southwest at Oaklawn Park in February.