BOZICH | Kentucky Derby Contenders Eager to Scratch California C - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Kentucky Derby Contenders Eager to Scratch California Chrome's Record

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Kentucky Derby contender are eager to scratch California Chrome's record. Kentucky Derby contender are eager to scratch California Chrome's record.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There’s a wonderful five-page story about Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.

If you read the story on an iPad, you can also watch a video of the colt easing away from the field in the Santa Anita Derby as if they were a pack of Labrador retrievers. He won by 5 ¼ lengths. That is as close as any runner has been to California Chrome at the finish line in his last four races.

I hope you bet on the colt in the future book because chances are the best price you’ll get on California Chrome at the Derby May 3 is 2-to-1.

Or less.

But this is something I love about the Derby – the people riding and training the horses chasing the favorite are not afraid to say they can beat California Chrome. You might hear cliché after cliché after workouts. You won’t hear false respect for a favorite.

Are you a believer, Robby Albarado?

“In California Chrome?” asked Albarado, the rider on Medal Count.

The one and only, sir.

“I don’t know,” Albarado said. “He’s coming to Kentucky … He’s pretty much had things his own way. Looks good. Flashy horse.

“That’s not how it works here, man. We can get weather conditions here. There’s not that California sun. You can get a muddy, wet racetrack. You can get squeezed back somewhere.”

What about Medal Count’s trainer, Dale Romans? He’s a Churchill fixture who can see the Twin Spires from the office at his barn – or he could until they constructed that overwhelming video board.

Is Romans expecting video of California Chrome to dominate that board on the first Saturday in May?

“I watched his last couple of races,” Romans said. “Visually they’re as impressive as they could be. He’s obviously a very, very good horse.”

But …

“But on the profile of super horses, he would be an outlier, with the pedigree and the bred in California,” Romans said.

Do you believe me?

There’s no blah, blah, blah Bill Belichick talk at the Derby. You’re not going to hear trainers talking about taking it one race at a time or jockeys saying they have to execute the game plan.

California Chrome is as accomplished as any Derby favorite in years. In an era where trainers treat their 2- and 3-year-olds like greenhouse flowers who can’t be exposed to too much wind, California Chrome has raced 10 times, starting his career precisely one year ago – April 26, 2013 at Hollywood Park.

Oh. The colt lost that maiden race, over 4 ½ furlongs for $52,000.

No wonder there will be 19 other contenders crackling into the starting gate for the Derby. No wonder even trainers and jockeys who were beaten by California Chrome in their last races are eager to prove the Derby favorite cannot win five in a row.

“He’s a legitimate favorite,” trainer John Sadler said. He’s very, very good. It’s a great story. And he’s a runner.”

But …

But Sadler trains Candy Boy, a colt that finished third, beaten by nearly nine lengths when he challenged California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby April 5. Sadler believes he can erase those nine lengths. So does his jockey, Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens.

“It’s the Kentucky Derby,” Sadler said.  “A lot could happen. With a 20-horse field, anything could happen. There’s a lot of traffic and there’s other things to consider like weather and everything like that.”

“He’s a good horse,” Stevens said. “He’s the real deal … He’s so versatile.”

But …

“The thing you wonder about is in his last two races he’s either been on the lead like he was in the (San Felipe), or he forced the pace like he did in the Santa Anita Derby,” Stevens said.

“We’ve got to find a way to make up seven or eight lengths … I’m very confident we can make up some lengths. I hope it’s enough.”

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