Two days before the Kentucky Derby, odds movement ran rampant throughout the board after the starting gate announcements. One favored horse was also forced to withdraw because of an injury, further throwing the odds for a loop.
But through it all, one thing remained the same: California Chrome is still the odds-on favorite to win the race.
The star three-year-old colt is now a 2/1 favorite after late-breaking developments saw the withdrawal of California Chrome’s biggest challenger to the title, Hoppertunity.
The former second favorite had 6/1 odds to upset California Chrome but trainer Bob Baffert announced on Thursday that an injured left-front foot will keep the Santa Anita Derby runner-up from competing in the Run for the Roses. Hopportunity had moved up the ranks in the past week, jumping from being 15/1 to win to becoming California Chrome’s most notable challenger.
Hoppertunity’s withdrawal will now likely tilt the odds towards the favorite even more, But on the flip side, it could also open up a better chance for Wicked Strong and Danza, both of which are now 8/1 to win, down from 9/1 last week. Intense Holiday is a close 12/1, a significant drop from its 21/1 odds a week ago. Samraat was also 21/1 last week, but a favorable gate saw its line jump to 15/1. Four other colts join Samraat at 15/1 odds, including General a Rod, Wildcat Red, Tapiture, and Ride on Curlin.
Vicar’s In Trouble was considered a strong challenger to California Chrome’s chances, but after the colt drew the dreaded one-hole, the colt’s odds fell from 11/1 to 30/1. To put that in perspective, four horses had higher odds last week, including Candy Boy, Dance With Fate, Medal Count, and Chitu. All four now have shorter odds at 20/1.
Looking at the way the holes were drawn, California Chrome sits in a pretty favorable position at the five-post, the same position jockey Victor Espinoza started on when he last won the Kentucky Derby in 2002 with War Emblem. If California Chrome can break clean from the get-go, she’s going to be able to steer clear from a lot of build-up in the quarter-mile. That’s a problem Vicar’s In Troble stands to face if it doesn’t do some serious running in the early stages.