2014 Kentucky Derby Field Is In Place, and South African Louis The King Makes Triple Crown History

With the 140th Kentucky Derby just around the corner, legal horse betting is heating up around the world. The Run for the Roses every year kicks off US Triple Crown horse racing action, and after major moves from a half-dozen Kentucky Derby contenders, the field is finally set. And while the first leg of the American Triple Crown is certainly an important horse race, other notable races were run this past week. Possibly predicting the same occurrence in the United States, South Africa saw Louis The King make history in Saturday's Grade I South African Derby at Turffontein. That makes the talented horse the first South African Triple Crown winner in 15 years, with jockey Robbie Fradd returning from Australia to take the stirrups. In Australia, Japanese mare Hana's Goal achieved a big win in the Saturday Group 1 All Aged Stakes at Randwick. And in France, the well-traveled veteran eight-year-old Cirrus Des Aigles edged the previously undefeated four-year-old filly Treve to win by a short neck for the Prix Ganay win.

This coming weekend, all eyes are turning to Kentucky, in hopes that the eventual Derby winner will go on to achieve US Triple Crown history, just as Louis the King did this past weekend in South Africa. Unfortunately, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has lost possibly his best chance at winning The Run for the Roses this year. Bayern nosed out Embellishing Bob in the $150,000 Grade III Derby Trial run at night under the floodlit Twin Spires in Kentucky. However, Brian Hernandez Junior, the jockey aboard Embellishing Bob, raised an objection which was upheld by officials. After watching the replay, Baffert admitted that his horse accidentally bumped Embellishing Bob for the victory, and had to be happy with second place. The win should have moved Bayern into the 19th spot for the 20 horse Kentucky Derby, but the second place showing was not enough to qualify.

Ring Weekend was previously number 14 on the updated list of Derby qualifiers, but has been ruled out with an injury. In other Kentucky Derby news, Bob Baffert's Hoppertunity now holds that trainer's most serious hopes for a Kentucky Derby title. Sort of a surprise in the Baffert stable, Hoppertunity did not even race as a two-year-old, only getting action after New Year's Day went down with a freak injury that forced him into early retirement. Bob Baffert has won three Kentucky Derby's since 1996, but he will have to get his horse past Todd Pletcher's Intense Holiday. If you are looking for a "buzz horse" for this year's Kentucky Derby, look no further.

Running very fast as of late, Intense Holiday, with John Velazquez riding, posted a blazing 48.60 half-mile workout earlier this week in Kentucky. The colt is known for a long body and long strides, two characteristics perfectly suited for the Derby distance. But there is no doubt that California Chrome is the 2014 Kentucky Derby favorite going into the race Saturday. With 150 Derby qualifying points, and a 6 - 1 - 0 record in 10 starts, the early Triple Crown favorite is already comfortably housed in Barn 20 at the Churchill Downs stable. In his final workout in California before heading east, the handsome colt ran a lightning fast half-mile in 48.20 seconds, barely looking winded afterward.

As one of the early favorites before Kentucky Derby post positions are announced, Wicked Strong has compiled the third most Kentucky Derby points. 2 - 1 - 1 in six starts, the Wood Memorial winner looked very strong in practice at Kentucky Monday. Pletcher also has three-year-old colt Danza entered in the Kentucky Derby. Running an easy half-mile in 48.80 seconds in a workout run, Danza looks comfortable already. After an impressive Arkansas Derby victory, Danza appears to be in perfect shape at just the right time. In his Oaklawn Park victory, Danza held on to a long push, and then ran away. Pletcher would certainly be happy with a similar performance this Saturday, May 3, at the 140th running of the fabled Kentucky Derby.

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