Kentucky Derby Betting Odds: How Low Will California Chrome Go

California Chrome, seen here winning the San Felipe, will be the favorite for the Kentucky Derby (Photo credit: © Cheryl Quigley |

There is little doubt that California Chrome is going to be the betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1), but what can we expect the betting odds to be?

The so-called experts have been tossing around 9-5 or 2-1 as his possible price when the gate opens on Saturday, but I expect the price to be a tad higher. In future betting, Bovada had the colt listed at odds of 7-4. At BetOnline we can lock in 2-1 on the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner.

Jon White, who is the linesmaker at Santa Anita Park, released what he would set the odds at if he was doing the morning line for the Derby and had California Chrome listed at 5-2.

Those prices hardly get the pulse racing.

If you like the favorite, it sure looks as if it may be better to wait until post time, as the price seems likely to be higher.

We have to remember that the Run for the Roses is no ordinary race. There is no other race in the U.S. that puts 20 lightly raced horses in the gate, and no race that generates more public money.

This year’s favorite California Chrome has created quite a stir within horse racing circles, but not in the mainstream media. His trainer Art Sherman is not well-known outside of Southern California.

His jockey Victor Espinoza does have a Derby win, booting home War Emblem in 2002. However, he does not have the star power among the public like Gary Stevens, Mike Smith or Calvin Borel.

Another reason his price may end up going off higher is that most public handicappers do not like to pick the favorite in the Derby. With such a wide open field, expect to see most try to beat the favorite.

The casual fans picking up newspapers, tip sheets or handicapping reports coming into the track may not see California Chrome listed as a top pick as much as a normal favorite would.

Not too many people remember that I picked Street Sense ($11.80) on top in 2007, but I still get reminded about having Animal Kingdom ($43.80) on top in 2011. When it comes to the Derby, it usually is better to swing for the fences.

With California Chrome putting in his last major work at Los Alamitos, the morning clockers are likely to fall in love with a different horse over the next couple of mornings. I doubt the “wise guy” horse is going to be the favorite.

The last Derby favorite that came into the race with a ton of hype was Big Brown. The Rick Dutrow trainee won a first level allowance race at Gulfstream Park on March 5 by 12 ¾ lengths and earned a 106 Beyer. He was sent off in the Florida Derby (G1) as the chalk and won by six, earning another 106 Beyer. On Derby Day the colt was sent off at 2.40-1

Bodemeister was the last Derby favorite to come into the race with back to back triple digit Beyers and he was sent off at 4.20-1.

Orb won the Florida Derby last year, but his last pair of Beyers (both 97’s) pales in comparison to California Chrome’s numbers. Orb was sent off at the lukewarm 5.40-1.

There are three other Derby contenders coming into the race this year off triple digit Beyers: Wicked Strong (104 winning the Wood), Danza (102 winning the Arkansas Derby) and Chitu (102 winning the Sunland Derby). Three others, Hoppertunity, Intense Holiday and Candy Boy may also get more respect in the betting than anticipated.

It would be pretty easy to play against California Chrome at 2-1 or 5-2. However, what happens if his price drifts up to 7-2, 4-1 or even 9-2?

I will not be surprised it if happens.


Year Derby Favorite Finish Odds Last 2 Beyers Field Size
2013 Orb 1st 5.40 97-97 19
2012 Bodemeister 2nd 4.20 108-101 20
2011 Dialed in 8th 5.20 93-90 19
2010 Lookin At Lucky 6th 6.30 89-98 20
2009 Friesan Fire 18th 3.80 104-97 19
2008 Big Brown 1st 2.40 106-106 20
2007 Street Sense 1st 4.90 93-102 20
2006 Sweetnorthernsaint 7th 5.50 109-104 20
2005 Bellamy Road 7th 2.60 120-96 20
2004 Smarty Jones 1st 4.10 109-112 18
2003 Empire Maker 2nd 2.50 111-108 16
2002 Harlan’s Holilday 7th 6.00 98-101 18
2001 Point Given 5th 1.80 110-105 17
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus 1st 2.30 111-106 19


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