04/09/2014 10:44AM

Dick Jerardi: Time to complete Derby superfecta after California Chrome claims top spot

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Benoit & Associates
California Chrome won the Santa Anita Derby on April 5 at Santa Anita.

California Chrome just made my Kentucky Derby superfecta play much less complicated.

After the San Felipe Stakes, when I went back and reviewed California Chrome’s entire record, looked at his recent races, and wrote about it, I decided, two months out, that California Chrome was my Derby horse. It was not just the 108 Beyer Speed Figure in the San Felipe, although that certainly got my attention. It was the way the horse was winning – speed on command, powerful strides, and wide margins.

I was hoping to see confirmation of my opinion last Saturday as I was sitting courtside at the Jerry Jones Dome, aka AT&T Stadium, in Texas. The first NCAA men’s basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida was in the first half. Naturally, I was watching the Santa Anita Derby on my laptop.

The opinion was not just confirmed, it was cemented. Even though California Chrome broke a bit behind the field, the colt was up in the race instantly. I ignored the horse in front. I kept watching California Chrome in second and Candy Boy in third. That was the race. Victor Espinoza on California Chrome knew it. So did Gary Stevens on Candy Boy. So did everybody watching.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Who was going to move first? Could Candy Boy put pressure on California Chrome? Did Stevens want to try?

If Espinoza was concerned about any of these questions, he never let on. He was riding his colt with complete confidence. It was almost like he was tracking Stevens instead of the other way.

As the field was nearing the top of the stretch, the mathematics behind the Beyers and what I was seeing strongly suggested that California Chrome was about to pull away from a very good horse. After all, Candy Boy was second (if not very close) to Shared Belief in the CashCall Futurity and a solid winner of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, getting Beyers of 95 and 96.

Then, just as I expected, the moment came. The separation was instantaneous. And it was over.

The official margin was 5 1/4 lengths. It felt like more. Candy Boy yielded second to Hoppertunity. Those two are talented. California Chrome is different. The Beyer was 107.

Go back six years. Other than the experience factor (it’s hard to believe that California Chrome has run 10 times – a career these days), I see Big Brown all over again, a really good horse against a far less talented and inconsistent group. If you remember, the 2008 Derby and Preakness were blowouts. I am looking for something that suggests that won’t happen again. I am not seeing it.

After a horse wins his last four races by a combined 24 1/4 lengths and earns big figures, I am not exactly breaking any news here. Barring some physical setback, California Chrome is going to be a huge Derby favorite. But I look at this equation like I look at a pick six. Any winner is a good winner, especially if you find some longshots in the sequence.

I could do without a sloppy track on Derby Day. I also would like to see California Chrome nearer the outside than the inside of the starting gate. Beyond that, I don’t have many concerns.

The Derby superfecta and the Breeders’ Cup pick six are my twin Holy Grails. I’ve been close to some giant scores in both. My only hit was the 2008 Derby superfecta, a nice score but no life-changer.

I will bet this super like I bet that 2008 super, a free space on top, subbing California Chrome for Big Brown. So, the super has now become a trifecta, much more manageable, even if trying to find the right three among 19 is still no bargain.

I have no concept yet how I will form my super play beyond the horse on top.

Last year, I used 11 horses in the second, third, and fourth spots, a $990 outlay for a $1 bet. I got three of those 11 home, including the crazy longshot I was hoping for, 34-1 Golden Soul, in second. The problem is I used the wrong horse on top. If I had doubled the bet and used Orb, my second choice, on top, I would have strolled out of Churchill Downs with $28,542. Instead, I walked out with zip.

In other years, I have taken one, two, or three key horses who have to run second, third, or fourth behind my winner. If I feel especially good about my winner and my key, I may use the other 18 horses with that key. I played a variation of that in 2004, 2005, and 2006 with Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, and Barbaro. I had the wrong key horses in 2004 and 2006, and the right key in 2005. Only Giacomo was not supposed to win.

My next three weeks will be spent looking for a key horse and longshots or some combination. I really think I have the winner.

Art Brown More than 1 year ago
C.C. doesn't have a chance in the derby. Expect the big money guys to not put cent on him to even hit the board. Jerardi is the worse handicapper at the drf. Betting off his recommendations will have you ripping up and dropping on the floor. You do at your perril listening to him.
roelly19 More than 1 year ago
does any one give the only two horses from 2 yr old race a chance, we miss arty and dance with fate. top horses that a freash and not injured, and still in the ky derby!!!!!!!!
Tom More than 1 year ago
If, if, if...............................................the name of the game.
Brendan Hinst More than 1 year ago
Constitution is out of the race
Art Brown More than 1 year ago
Everything changes when the horse walks onto Churchill Downs racetrack when it gets some rain on it. All those California horses will get trounced by horses that run on off tracks and heavier track surfaces. I'll just wait till derby day to make up my mind. Trying to call this derby so early is like guessing at whose gonna win the mega million lotto.
Diane Burge More than 1 year ago
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Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
This colt has beaten weak fields. Half the Santa Anita Derby were maidens or allowance colts. He is very talented. But with speed like General A Rod, Wildcat Red, and Constitution he will have a fight on his hands from classy colts. I pick Constitution and Wicked Strong with Samraat and this colt. He is not a guaranteed winner by any means.
sk More than 1 year ago
Asolutely on spot , There is plenty of quality speed in this year's derby. It looks like more speed will be added as none from blue grass stk are going to run derby.
JimMcCarthy1 More than 1 year ago
I don't know, he looked very tractable in the SA Derby when stalking a few lengths off the pace. I think you are wrong if you are dismissing him as a one dimensional speedster. IMO, he is the horse most likely to have the lead at the sixteenth pole. Will somebody come out of the clouds and run him down? Sure, could happen, it's the Derby after all, you just have to figure out who, that's the thing.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
But he stalked a maiden. Thats my point. Easy to go around one of them in a grade 1. Not so easy to get by a graded winner with tactical speed and experience. And Constitution has exact same style as CC. CC is very nice. But he was a pro against amateur speed. Time will tell. Jerkens colt looms dangerous behind Cc and Constitution as does Samraat.
Beenthere Donethat More than 1 year ago
I have a hard time just writing off CC as the derby winner. There is nothing to complain about while viewing his past, but the future holds some big questions, the same questions that dominant Ca. only horses have to answer almost every year, but that so few end up answering correctly. With horses popping into form left and right like popcorn in the nuke oven, as is standard fare, who knows who will really "show up" for the derby. Workouts and exercises will be important. I will wait to see how this horse moves over the slower going at Churchill before venturing to attend his pre-race coronation.
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
I like your ideas, but they are much too complicated and they require a very large bankroll for someone like me. I hit the Barbaro tri putting him 1st and wheeling Steppenwolfer 2nd and 3rd with the field. It was about a $72 ticket for a $2 tri... This year I'll put Cali Chrome 1st and wheel Ride on Curlin 2nd & 3rd. They just announced that they're putting Borel up on him. Borel on a closer! That's what I love best... - RAMMER
Paul Aswad More than 1 year ago
BEYER FIGS ARE VERY INACCURATE. THEY REALLY ARE OFTEN WAY OUT OF WAC. PEOPLE GET WAY OFF BASE WITH THEM. THE BEYER SYSTEM NEEDS REVAMPING. ALSO THE NEW DRF WEBSITE IS HORRENDOUS. THIS WILL PUT THEM OUT OF BUSINESS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely agree on the website. Least customer friendly, poorly made website I have ever seen. Can't even put a picture of a horse on the damn thing! So now we can only read 98% of the articles if we are a DRF member? My wagering through your platform isn't enough? And by the way- I have been asking for my $10 credit for using Ticketmaker you offered. It's been three weeks and three complaints. If you can't pay a lousy ten bucks YOU offered when you invite someone to use one of your products that's pathetic.