For the first time in over 10 years, the Kentucky Derby will have a very strong betting favorite, and his starting position on Saturday only enhances his chances. California Chrome has been nothing short of tremendous since he turned 3 years old. He has won his past four races by an average winning margin of six lengths and has more wins than anyone else in the 20-horse field. He has also been a feel-good story because of 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman, a former jockey who has never trained or ridden a Derby horse.
California Chrome's 5-2 morning-line odds are the shortest since Bellamy Road was also installed at 5-2 in 2005. But, as the Kentucky Derby has clearly demonstrated over its 140-year history, favorites do not win very often. On an average day, 30 percent of favorites win races, but the Derby is closer to 25 percent.
The colt needs to avoid a slow start, which he has had the tendency to do, and not get shuffled back too far. He likely will be overbet, which will drive up the price on others in the field. On Thursday, the second betting choice, Hoppertunity (6-1), was scratched from the Derby, which brought down the morning-line odds on a few of the key contenders. But there are still plenty of great options to look at if you are looking to beat "Chrome."
Here are the best betting values on the board:
Intense Holiday (No. 16, morning line 8-1) -- Trainer Todd Pletcher, one of the best conditioners in racing, brings a couple of horses to Louisville this year, and this one seems to be getting better with each start.