By Kevin Martin

California Chrome will be a deserving favorite in this year’s Kentucky Derby. With two powerful performances in races leading up to the Derby, few would be surprised to see him wearing roses come Saturday evening. Should he win, a $2 win bet will likely pay less than $10. That is why the key to a financially successful day will be hitting one of the multi-horse wagers: the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta. Even if California Chrome wins, a few longshots filling in the second through fourth positions could make the return on investment significant.

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California Chrome is the likely winner and a logical inclusion in your Derby wagers.

Here are the four other horses I will use in my betting plan:

Intense Holiday does his best running late which will serve him well as colts tire in the stretch of the 1 1/4 mile race. His workout over the weekend at Churchill Downs drew raves from those in attendance. He is one of the few that have a realistic chance to upset California Chrome.

Medal Count doesn’t look like much on paper but he has a trainer who has done well with his last three Derby entries and a jockey who brilliantly guided a huge longshot to a second place finish in the 2013 Derby. Like Intense Holiday, he does his best running late and has the look of this year’s huge longshot to finish in the money.

Ride on Curlin has never been worse than third in eight of his nine career starts. The three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel will give this versatile colt a good ride and a chance to be among the first flight of finishers.

Candy Boy was a distant third to California Chrome in his last start. The expected scratch of Hoppertunity, who finished second in the same race, enhances Candy Boy’s chances to finish among the top three. With Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens aboard, the regally bred Candy Boy is worth a shot at potentially long odds.

Kentucky Derby Preview: California Chrome Is Primed To Shine

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I’ll take a stand against Danza and Wicked Strong. The second and third choice on the morning line have been touted as potential winners considering their last starts but Danza lacks experience and Wicked Strong has been inconsistent this year. Neither will be in my betting scheme for Derby.

The $100 Bet

I will use half my bankroll to invest on Intense Holiday and Medal Count in the win, place, and show pools. If either of those horses finish in the top three, I will cash a ticket. In addition, I will box the above mentioned five horses in an exacta so any combination of those colts finishing first and second means a winning ticket. Finally, I will play a trifecta with California Chrome keyed in the first position with my four other selections underneath. With that wager, California Chrome needs to win, and any of my four other selections need to finish second and third.

Here are the bets with program numbers and the total cost of each wager:

  • $10 win, place, and show on Intense Holiday (16) = $30

  • $10 place and show on Medal Count (14) = $20

  • $1 exacta box California Chrome (5), Intense Holiday (16), Medal Count (14), Ride On Curlin (19), Candy Boy (18) = $20

  • $2 trifecta California Chrome (5) over Intense Holiday (16), Medal Count (14), Ride On Curlin (19), Candy Boy (18) = $24

That leaves $6 of my $100 bankroll to buy a beer…good luck!

Of course, its more fun to make your own picks, you can learn how to do that at Hello Race Fans. You can also see a rundown of all the starters with their annual Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet.

Kevin Martin is the founder of the thoroughbred racing history site Colin’s Ghost and a contributing editor at Hello Race Fans

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