California Chrome’s Odds To Win The 2014 Breeders’ CupNoah Williams
There has been much talk lately about California Chrome not being the same horse as the one that took home six straight races from January to June including winning the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. So much talk has come out about Chrome possibly not being the same horse that his likely Breeders’ Cup odds figure to be much higher than anybody would have imagined them being before the terrible race in the Pennsylvania Derby.
That could be good news for astute horse racing handicappers who have been paying attention to this horse since his two-year-old campaign. The thing about California Chrome is that he’s a particular animal, some of the greats are, who simply shuts off when things don’t necessarily go his way. He did it both in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and in the Golden State Juvenile. In the Del Mar Futurity, jockey Alberto Delgado tried to rally California Chrome between horses. Chrome was going to have none of that and he ended up finishing sixth but only by two lengths. In the Golden State Juvenile, Chrome hopped at the start and got off slow. Since he wasn’t near the front at that point, Chrome decided to throw in the towel and coast to another lackluster sixth place finish.
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That’s exactly what happened in the Pennsylvania Derby where Chrome ended up on the rail. Trying to rally a horse like California Chrome on the rail is tantamount to asking the scorpion not to sting the frog like what’s illustrated in the famous Aesop Fable.
It’s just not in Chrome’s nature to split horses and rally or to rally up the rail. If California Chrome is taken out of his element, if the race doesn’t set up for him the way that he likes it, he’s going to become discouraged and give up at some point during the race. Usually, he does this when Espinoza asks for his best, when the successful pair is going for a win like in the Pennsylvania Derby.
Espinoza knows this as well, which is why California Chrome has an excellent shot, should he break well and secure a position behind front runners Bayern, Moreno and Big Casanova where Espinoza can rally him on the outside, to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But what will the Derby winner’s odds be in the race?
California Chrome figures to be no better than the third or fourth choice in the Classic. Tonalist is going to be the favorite even though the Belmont winner might be nothing more than a horse for course type who excels over the Big Sandy dirt. Shared Belief, whom I pick to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will get plenty of attention at the windows even though there is a question regarding his talent on dirt as opposed to his talent on synthetic surfaces. Bayern, because he put the scintillating beat down on California Chrome in the Pennsylvania Derby, will get plenty of attention. This is particularly true since horseplayers that favor the Bob Baffert front runner believe he’s going to skip across the fast Santa Anita dirt track like a George Jetson hover craft.
My guess is that Chrome’s odds are going to be no worse than 5 to 1 and, since this is a deep Breeders’ Cup Classic field, could approach 6 to 1. At those odds, and with the way that the Kentucky Derby winner has been training in the a.m., a win bet on California Chrome might actually make sense.