Free Picks: 2014 Kentucky Derby Betting Futures

David Schwab

Thursday, April 17, 2014 6:35 PM GMT

The prep race season for this year’s Kentucky Derby is pretty much in the books as the field of three-year old thoroughbreds for this year’s “Run for the Roses” the first Saturday in May at fabled Churchill Downs begins to take shape.

The field for the Kentucky Derby is the largest in major graded stakes horse racing at 20. This tends to make this event one of the hardest to handicap given the size and quality of the final field that will compete over the 1 ¼ mile run around Churchill Down’s dirt track. That is also why the drawn post positions a few days before the actual race will have as much an impact on the final betting odds as the horses themselves. 

Based on the results from some of the other major graded stakes races that have been run over the past few weekends, Sportsbook has updated its future odds for some of the top contenders expected to run in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

The horse at the top of that list is California Chrome at +300. This three-year old colt currently leads the field with 150 points after posting back-to-back victories in the grade II San Felipe Stakes in early March and the grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 5. He is trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza.  

The second-favorite at -600 to win this year’s Derby is Wicked Strong. As a juvenile, this colt first caught bettors’ eyes by finishing in the money in the grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct by placing third. He was limited to just one run as a three-year old by trainer James Jerkens and he made the most of it by finishing first in the grade I Wood Memorial, which was also run at Aqueduct on April 5. He is expected to be ridden in the Derby by Jose Lezcano.

The odds drop off from there with no other horse listed lower than +1500, but do not read all that much into the current numbers as this field will still be deep and strong with horses that can easily win this race.

At the top of my personal list is Samraat at +2000. This three-year old colt is trained by Rick Viollette Jr. and ridden by Jose Ortiz. He started his run towards the Kentucky Derby with a victory in the grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in early February and followed that up with another first place finish in the grade III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in early March. His last time out, he placed second in the Wood Memorial to firm up his position in the Derby field with 100 points.

Another top contender to watch as we draw closer to Derby Day on May 3 is Dancing With Fate, who is ranked third in points with 108. Sportsbook has set his horses’ current odds to win at +7500, which is a tremendous value given the resume this three-year old brings to the table. The problem is that trainer Peter Eurton has yet to commit to the Kentucky Derby given that the race is run on dirt and his horse excels on synthetic surfaces. He is coming off an impressive victory at the grade I Blue Grass Stake at Keeneland this past Saturday to qualify for the Derby field after placing second in the grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate in February.

The following are a few other Kentucky Derby contenders along with their current odds to put on your watch list as you begin your preliminary handicapping efforts for this race:

Constitution (trained by Todd Pletcher) +1600

Vicar’s in Trouble (trained by Mike Maker) +1800

Cairo Price (trained by Kiaran McLaughlin) +1500

Hoppertunity (trained by Bob Baffert) +1800

Wildcat Red (trained by Jose Garrofalo) +5500