Kentucky Derby 2014 picks and predictions: California Chrome the favorite

Andy Lyons

A look at experts' picks for the 140th Kentucky Derby

The 2014 Kentucky Derby will feature 19 competitors, but one horse is viewed as the favorite. California Chrome is receiving plenty of buzz, which makes sense since he is the top betting favorite.

At SB Nation's horse racing site, And Down the Stretch They Come, the resident staff pickers, Siva's #3 Rose and TFTribe, seem to be on board with California Chrome.

If he breaks cleanly, California Chrome is probably the stand out in here. I'm not so sure his post position helps him, as the 5 post sometimes sees trouble in the Derby. He could also pull a Point Given (2001's Derby favorite that later won the Preakness and Belmont) and be off his game in this one. If he's at his best, the others would have to run out of their minds to beat him. He won't be a win play, unless he floats to 9/2 or above, but he's the most consistent of the bunch.

I think Chrome will be 8/ or 9/5 in the gate, so every other horse will be a big price. But Candy Boy is the price that really intrigues me. I won't talk this race to death though, many smarter ones have already done that.

The New York Times' Melissa Hoppert also likes California Chrome, picking the colt ahead of Wicked Strong and Candy Boy: "The Santa Anita Derby winner needs to get out of the gate well, but otherwise, it's his race to lose. He is speedy but saves enough for a fierce closing kick and makes it look easy." Hoppert's colleague, Joe Drape, agrees that California Chrome has the look and numbers of a favorite, but is instead going with Wicked Strong.

However, not everyone is in love with California Chrome. Joe Sullivan at The Boston Globe notes that he has won his last four races by a combined 24 1/2 links, but says "California breds don't win the Derby." Sullivan is instead picking Danza over Wicked Strong and Intense Holiday.

The Louisville Courier-Journal polled a group of four experts -- Jose Contreras (ambassador and handicapper for America's Best Racing), Ed DeRosa (director of marketing at brisnet.com), J.J. Hysell (freelance contributor to The Courier-Journal and author of inthemoneypost.com) and Marty McGee (Kentucky-based correspondent for Daily Racing Form). There wasn't much of a consensus as each picked a different winner: California Chrome, Ride On Curlin, Medal Count and Candy Boy.

If California Chrome doesn't find a way to win, it will come as a shock to co-owner Steve Coburn. Earlier in the week, Coburn proclaimed, "This horse will win the Kentucky Derby." No maybe. No we-hope-so. No if-everything-goes right." And he followed that up by telling The Los Angeles Times' Bill Dwyre, "I think it's a done deal."

The oddsmakers and many experts are on California Chrome's side, but in the last 10 races, only three betting favorites have gone on to win the Derby. Anything can happen in the Run for the Roses.

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