04/23/2014 1:42PM

Jerardi: California Chrome looks best - by a lot

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Scott Martinez/Los Alamitos
As the numbers reflect, California Chrome outshines the rest of the Kentucky Derby field by a long way.

If we just looked at that race the first Saturday in May as a horse race and not the Kentucky Derby, the 2014 outcome would appear rather obvious. One horse’s last two Beyer Speed Figures are better than any figure any of the likely other 19 starters has ever had.

This, however, is not just a horse race. It is different – the field size, the preparation, the pressure, all of it. It is often about the horse that is doing best in the final days, not the horse that has performed the best in the final races.

Still, the fundamentals do apply. I wrote this two weeks ago, but each time I look at this race, I see California Chrome playing the role of Big Brown. He just looks better than this group – and not by a little.

We know all about California Chrome, his 108 in the San Felipe Stakes, his 107 in the Santa Anita Derby. And forget those people who say he is a speed horse who could get caught up in a hot pace. Watch the videos closely. This colt runs relaxed. If they are going too fast, he will find a position and make his run. If he gets a flyer like he did in the San Felipe, there is a chance he could be the speed of the speed and run the entire field off its feet.

Is California Chrome a lock? If this were a six-horse race on a Wednesday with similar spreads in quantifiable ability, I would say yes. It is not that, of course, so the horse is no lock. But California Chrome is certainly the most likely winner based on what we know.

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

What we don’t know is what happens if California Chrome gets an inside post, breaks poorly, gets behind a wall of horses, and suddenly is in the midst of a desert sandstorm in the first few hundred yards. For my purposes, I can’t worry about that. It is like the basketball coach who takes his star player out in the first half with two fouls because he is worried about what might happen. The player actually may never get another foul, so the coach never had anything to be concerned about anyway. Why worry about what you can’t foresee?

I have liked California Chrome for two months. I still like California Chrome. Yes, he will be a solid favorite, but even winning favorites can yield big payoffs in the right pools with the correct wager.

So, what about the competition? There are exactly 13 other 3-year-olds who have hit triple digits on the Beyer scale. Only one beside California Chrome has done it twice. That would be Untapable, a filly being pointed for the Kentucky Oaks.

Only five of the other 12 are likely Derby runners at the moment.

General a Rod and Wildcat Red certainly will be prominent in the running, but I really don’t see them lasting 10 furlongs under the kind of heat they will face.

I have no particular explanation for Danza in the Arkansas Derby. I do know it was a powerhouse performance. I do not have any great faith that he can reproduce that form.

If you asked me for the two horses who give me the most concern, I would say Hoppertunity and Wicked Strong.

It was obvious the Santa Anita Derby was just a prep race for Hoppertunity. The horse came hard in the stretch as if the extra 220 yards in the Derby might be welcomed.

Wicked Strong won the Wood Memorial like a very good horse, beating a very solid and consistent Samraat with ease. It was visually inspiring. And the horse certainly ran fast, getting a 104 Beyer Speed Figure. A very slight move forward certainly puts him right there in the Derby.

Still, I head for Kentucky with California Chrome on my mind. Last week, I watched all 10 of his races over and over. When he got beat, I understood why he got beat. And when he ran his best, nobody was going to beat him.

California Chrome’s best race so far is better than any of these other horses’ best races. And there is a chance we have not yet seen his very best race. If we see it May 3, get ready to see something very special.

Scott More than 1 year ago
Anonymous who questioned CCs ability. Do your due diligence before criticizing others. My post 8 hours ago spelled it out for you. Even though I lost my Exactas to Wicked Strong & Danza I got extreme pleasure in watching this marvelous colt win for fun. I'm sure you'll have nothing good to say about this colts victory but it was an awesome display especially when Espinoza pulled him up going into the 1st turn & yet he still won easy. Just go away anonymous along with your East Coast bias.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Well finally turned on the TV today to see 7f in 1:22 & change with the half in 44 and whatever. Yeah 3yo who never won a race other than Maiden Starter or Claiming or State bred or never won 2 races. Going too fast for some people here! Should have gone 22 3/5 45 3/5 1:10 2/5 1:23 3/5 I just emailed Churchill Downs to dig up the track!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AnonymousLess than a minute ago Oh anonymous I missed nothing that day contrary to your opinion. See you nor I can control the pace of any race, the little guys riding the animals do that. Obviously you watched the SA Derby and if all of us thought the way you do CC should have gone 1:08 & change for the first 6f while ripping off an opening quarter in 21 & change followed with the half at 44 & change. Like I said MSW in 1:21 & change clearly shows the track was faaaassst @ GSP Derby Day. Your problem is you fail to really watch the race hoppertunity ran @ SA on Derby Day. He was sitting in the catbirds seat coming out of the turn and was never a threat. Yes the same Hoppertunity that beat everything in Arkansas in the Rebel. So ask yourself this anonymous is a horse with talent suppose to run fast on a fast surface? Were the fractions fast on Derby Day? Was he a LF in the SA Derby? Answer [NO] Did he run away from his competition under a hand ride while being eased in 1:47 & change. Should he have gone 1:46 & change or how bout 1:45 and change? Would that make him a better horse in your opinion? L@@k at his San Felipe splits then his SA Derby splits. He was 5 lengths faster in the San Felipe going 1 1/16th in 1:40 3/5 under a hand ride once again. Bottom Line Is, he wins the way a horse with a lot of talent should win! Thing is it's the Derby and we all know what happened to Lookin At Lucky. One more little tidbit for you to chew on. Though his Sire and Mare are very suspect one only needs to do their due dilligence and see California Chrome has 22 Stallions in his bloodlines that are of Blue Blood stature 10 of which are of the Classic category. He comes from the Bold Ruler and Raise a Native lines so I guess we'll see if he can get the mile and a quarter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh anonymous I missed nothing that day contrary to your opinion. See you nor I can control the pace of any race, the little guys riding the animals do that. Obviously you watched the SA Derby and if all of us thought the way you do CC should have gone 1:08 & change for the first 6f while ripping off an opening quarter in 21 & change followed with the half at 44 & change. Like I said MSW in 1:21 & change clearly shows the track was faaaassst @ GSP Derby Day. Your problem is you fail to really watch the race hoppertunity ran @ SA on Derby Day. He was sitting in the catbirds seat coming out of the turn and was never a threat. Yes the same Hoppertunity that beat everything in Arkansas in the Rebel. So ask yourself this anonymous is a horse with talent suppose to run fast on a fast surface? Were the fractions fast on Derby Day? Was he a LF in the SA Derby? Answer [NO] Did he run away from his competition under a hand ride while being eased in 1:47 & change. Should he have gone 1:46 & change or how bout 1:45 and change? Would that make him a better horse in your opinion? L@@k at his San Felipe splits then his SA Derby splits. He was 5 lengths faster in the San Felipe going 1 1/16th in 1:40 3/5 under a hand ride once again. Bottom Line Is, he wins the way a horse with a lot of talent should win! Thing is it's the Derby and we all know what happened to Lookin At Lucky. One more little tidbit for you to chew on. Though his Sire and Mare are very suspect one only needs to do their due dilligence and see California Chrome has 22 Stallions in his bloodlines that are of Blue Blood stature 10 of which are of the Classic category. He comes from the Bold Ruler and Raise a Native lines so I guess we'll see if he can get the mile and a quarter.
Ray Lanfear More than 1 year ago
California Chrome will win by 6 or more lengths.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
He will leave this group by 4 or 5 lengths (like a group of tired claimers) and it could be very hard to figure who will run in behind him.
A K More than 1 year ago
I know no ones analysis can be scorned of this race..let's face it - what can you say to little old grandma - after the race when she's standing there cashing out and you have to be the bodyguard..Truly you're the one who played her ticket for her. You sang all the way to the window focused squarely on getting your bet in and right just the way you perfectly handicapped it...Oh you almost walked away without putting in grannies bet...oh excuse me teller can you give me that ! - ! - ! boxed it's for my grands. Now we all know the perfect race is only ran on paper or in the handicappers mind..So ...now that I have it all picked out... let's see.ok..this angle that angle and oh yeah ! this hunch that hunch - got it .almost forgot this myth that myth ..enough already don't think I can over analyze can I ? Oh well I'll be glad when the gate swings open I'm feeling the urge to play that horse with the braided mane - somehow I remember seeing a lot of winners in the circle with braided manes. How come that's not in the past performances?..oh well their off and my tickets are WildCat Red, Danza. the other CC..Commanding Curve, Wicked Strong and Tapiture just box sit back and cash better yet i'll just stand by the tellers window..I want to be the first you know to cash out or wait.. was that a myth? This year I'm going to show the world I can handicap the Kentucky Derby..Well at least I'll show Grandma..Welcome.to the best in Horse Racing and all of Sports!!! God Blessings Y'all
Jason Hart More than 1 year ago
Not sure what happened on my previous post, but CC has been a different colt his last four starts. I could be the change to Victor or it could be Art figured him out sometime in November/December. This horse appears to be head and shoulders above the rest, but I have thought that before with horses going into the Derby. The Derby is a different animal all together. It's about getting a good trip, the race setting up for you, and your horse firing. I hope CC can get it done. It would be good for California and Los Alamitos, which is where he trains.
Jason Hart More than 1 year ago
CC
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Dear Marshawn Lynch,May we borrow the nickname Beast Mode for the next 6 weeks Sincerely,Art Sherman