Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: California Chrome Top Pick with Field Almost Set

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IApril 23, 2014

In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza pose in the winner's circle after victory in the Santa Anita Derby horse race Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Benoit Photo)

California Chrome continues to stand out among the Kentucky Derby contenders as the field settles in for the May 3 race. 

The prep races for this derby are a thing of the past, and the leaderboard is set. With the official draw not being until April 30, however, there are still horses being pulled from the running. In all, up to 24 horses can enter the field. Any horse 21 or higher will be an "also eligible" horse that will run if one of the 20 main horses cannot go. 

The Courier-Journal's Jonathan Lintner has updated field information:  

In a print article, Lintner reports that all but three of the top-20 horses on that list have confirmed. The three that haven't confirmed are Chitu, Ring Weekend and Harry's Holiday. 

So, there is still some uncertainty among which horses will run in the big race, but there isn't any mystery over which horse is being viewed as the favorite. Oddsshark provided a look at the odds with the race approaching. 

Kentucky Derby Odds
California Chrome2-1
Wicked Strong8-1
Vicars In Trouble10-1
Wildcat Red16-1
Source: Oddsshark

As you can see, California Chrome is a strong favorite, and rightfully so. The colt has won his last four starts, and they haven't been close. The victories have come by a combined 24 lengths.

His last race was the Santa Anita Derby, where he won by over five lengths over Bob Baffert's Hoppertunity. Candy Boy was also in that field. 

California Chrome has never run outside of the state of California, but he has won on three different tracks. So, the Art Sherman trainee is a whopping favorite at 2-1. The next lowest odds come from a pair of horses and are all the way at 8-1. 

Danza and Wicked Strong check in next on the odds list. Wicked Strong has gotten a lot of late momentum. Prior to the Wood Memorial, there was little reason to get excited about Wicked Strong. Trained by James Jerkens, he had not won since breaking his maiden. Then he dominated the Wood Memorial. 

He outpaced the previously undefeated Samraat, and the two essentially traded places on the Kentucky Derby radar.  

Meanwhile, Danza is another horse who made a quick charge to notoriety. He went off with odds at 41-1 at the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and won by nearly five lengths. 

Jockey Joe Bravo, via Bloodhorse's Jack Shinar on ESPN, had this to say following the race: 

Todd [Pletcher] was pretty high on the horse and he told me this morning that he was going to be fresh so don't take anything away from him. Try to save as much [ground] as you can and let him run his race. It was textbook, just textbook. Everything unfolded like a dream. 

Combine Danza's stunning performance with the fact that his trainer, Todd Pletcher, is a powerhouse and last won the first leg of the triple crown in 2010, and this horse is getting plenty of interest.

When post positions are assigned, the odds will receive a bit of a jolt, but there is little that will keep California Chrome from leaving the gate as the favorite. Look for Danza's odds to make a drop down as well. Todd Pletcher's influence on the bettors will have his horse going off with the second-lowest odds.