Kentucky Derby 2014 Rewind: California’s Derby

California Chrome was very fortunate and pretty good in Kentucky Derby 2014, but much more of the former. The pace was surprisingly slow (:47.37, 1:11.80) for a 19-horse field full of early-pressing types.

California Chrome

California Chrome captures Kentucky Derby 2014 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I have been watching Derbies since 1980 and this “fast track” edition (2:03.66/97 BSF) was one of if not the slowest that I have witnessed. The track was not slow earlier on Saturday. Central Banker rattled off 7f in 1:21.15 in the CD Stakes, good for a 107 BSF. Some argue that the track was not playing as fast by the time they ran the Derby. That may be true but a budding star capable of winning the Triple Crown should have run much faster.

Despite sitting a perfect trip tracking a pair of longshot pacesetters (Uncle Sigh, Chitu) through modest splits, California Chrome could only manage to come home in :26.21, hardly a superstar performance and indicative of distance limitations beyond 9f. He loses the Derby under any other pace scenario but the racing gods were surely with him under the Twin Spires.

The Derby horses were tightly bunched due to the modest fractions and that caused a chain reaction of troubled/wide trips (Candy Boy, General a Rod, Intense Holiday, Ride On Curlin, Wicked Strong). Chrome’s main foes were eliminated and the race was essentially over after a half mile.

Commanding Curve, eligible for an entry level affair, ran on well to finish a clear second and probably stuns the Derby field with a bit more pace help. Danza, with four lifetime starts and only one around two turns, finished a solid 3rd.

The real shining star on Derby weekend was Untapable in the Kentucky Oaks. She dominated from the outside post, getting 9f in 1:48.68 (107 BSF), the second-fastest Oaks in history. The pace was moderate (:47.80, 1:12.24) and she came home in a spry :36.34 ( final 1/8 in :12.52). She easily could have won the Derby and would have been the one to beat in the Preakness but will not face males at this stage. Look for her next in the Acorn (June 7) and/or Mother Goose (June 28) at Belmont Park.

Early Preakness 2014 Preview

Preakness 2014 should have much livelier splits. Bayern won his first two starts in SoCal before a foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned with a solid 3rd in the Arkansas Derby and had his number taken down in the Derby Trial. The speedy sort drilled a strong 5f bullet in :58.20 (1/19) at Churchill Downs on May 5. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Preakness five times.

Social Inclusion, another promising early runner, ran away in his first two starts at the Gulf before ending up a better than expected 3rd in the Wood Memorial. He arrived at Pimlico on May 8.

Pablo Del Monte scratched out of the Derby in favor of the Preakness. He set the pace before settling for the show in Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes.

Ride On Curlin had no chance in the Derby after shooting over to the rail from the auxiliary gate under Borel. He ended up a better than appears 7th and gets Rosario in Baltimore.

Can California Chrome win the Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown hype has begun in earnest, but I do not see any scenario in which Chrome gets a mile and a half at Big Sandy. He is much more likely to win the shorter Preakness Stakes but will be a huge underlay in Baltimore.

California Chrome’s Derby come home time was slow and long distance breeding means everything in the Belmont Stakes. The last 8 Belmont Stakes winners did not compete in the Preakness. Four of those lost the Derby, skipped the Preakness, and won the Belmont (Palace Malice, Union Rags, Summer Bird, Jazil).

A second outcome is much more plausible. Derby hero California Chrome wins the Preakness and loses the Belmont Stakes at miniscule odds. Since 2000, horses exiting the Derby have captured the Preakness 11 times. Exceptions: Rachel Alexandra, Bernardini, and Red Bullet.

In a third scenario, Chrome loses the Preakness, skips the Belmont Stakes, and wins the Los Alamitos Derby at his home track on July 5.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: California Chrome

california chrome silks

California Chrome’s sire Lucky Pulpit (Pulpit – Lucky Soph, by Cozzene) won 3 of 22 starts and earned $209,928. He placed in multiple stakes – Pinjara Stakes (2nd), G3 Generous (3rd), G2 Santa Catalina (2nd), Ocenaside (3rd), Smile Stakes (1st), Taylor’s Special (3rd), Sneakbox (2nd). He entered stud in 2007 and his leading runner before California Chrome was CA-bred stakes winner and multiple graded placed runner Rousing Sermon ($710,092). The latter finished 8th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

california chrome breeding

Lucky Pulpit’s sire Pulpit (A.P. Indy – Preach, by Mr. Prospector) had a short but productive 6-race career in 1997, beginning with a debut maiden win at Gulfstream Park in January.

Pulpit (1994-2012) captured an allowance race in Florida second time out, and followed that up with a win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a 2nd in the Florida Derby, and a victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. He chipped his knee during a 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and was subsequently retired.

A.P. Indy’s most successful son at stud, Pulpit was responsible for 42 graded stakes winners (11 Grade I winners), including 2010 Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box.

Unfortunately, Pulpit died in his stall at Claiborne Farm at age 18 in late 2012.

Pulpit’s sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Lucky Pulpit’s dam Lucky Soph (by Cozzene) captured 1 of 6 overseas starts.

Lucky Soph’s sire Cozzene captured 10 of 24 starts including the 1985 BC Mile. He was responsible for numerous stakes winners including 1996 BC Classic hero Alphabet Soup and 1994 BC Turf winner Tikkanen.

California Chrome’s dam Love the Chase (by Not For Love) won a single race from six Golden Gate outings.

Not For Love (by Mr. Prospector) scored on six occasions (29 starts) and placed in the 1994 Bob Harding Stakes. He has sired many useful performers and was the leading sire in North American earnings in 2003-06.

California Chrome continues to outrun his modest pedigree. He successfully navigated ten furlongs in the Derby, thanks to stamina influences Pulpit, A.P. Indy, and Cozzene.

COMING SOON: Preakness and Belmont Stakes Day full cards!

Kentucky Derby Day full card analysis recap

My Preakness Day 2014 full card will be available to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

I’ll return next week after the Preakness draw with a sneak preview of Pimlico’s showcase event.

 

Advertisements

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by t york on May 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    your brian boy bet the wrong horse in the derby try again next year

    Reply

  2. Posted by Hannah Etienne on June 1, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I think someone is just and they bet the wrong horse. You constantly mention him w Chrome got everything perfect in the KD but you ignore that Untapable did also. And you flat out saying she would of won the KD is ridiculous. Any handicapper knows Tapit horses DON’T get 10f, Untapable is a rarity getting 9f in a Grade 1. And Chrome having “nothing left in the final 1/4” is absolutely LUDICROUS!!! He was eased most of the stretch. You just see what you want to see

    Reply

    • Most but not all offspring of Tapit are headstrong and not able to handle longer distances due to uneven energy distribution. Tonalist shot that theory down in the Belmont Stakes and Untapable seems like a long winded sort as well. Chrome’s lack of stamina was evident in the Test of Champions. I have nothing against the Derby-Preakness hero. The modestly bred overachiever accomplished more than anyone expected and I hope he returns healthy this fall.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: