Congratulations to the 2014 Road to Kentucky champion Steve Hennen, who prevailed over runner-up Richard Carlson by more than 800 points after posting a final week score of 1,452 points. Mr. Hennen was strong in this contest from start to finish, posting a 2nd place finish in Week 3, a 4th place finish in Week 4, and another 2nd place finish in Week 11. His overall score of 13,282 is consistent with previous years’ winning scores, and underscores the necessity to average 1,000 points per week for the duration of the contest. As previously noted, there weren’t a lot of longshot winners during this year’s contest, so Mr. Hennen’s scores speak to the consistency of his selections. Congratulations again on a job well done!
The Week 14 winner was Ricardo Dabu, who drew away from the field with a score of 2,582 to win by over 400 points. His score almost certainly included the weekly contest “must have” horse Commanding Curve, whose second place finish at 37-1 in the Kentucky Derby was worth 1,416 points due to the triple bonus. Nicely played!
And while Commanding Curve may have been the horse to play for Road to Kentucky purposes, California Chrome wears the Roses. He was the most dominant horse in the Derby preps, and he parlayed a sweet stalking trip into an insurmountable five length lead at the 16th pole. The 140th edition was roughly run, as Vicars in Trouble was badly squeezed on the rail the first time past the stands, and Candy Boy was nearly dropped as they hit the first turn. But likely none of it mattered as California Chrome seemed to handle the track okay and kicked clear turning for home. His detractors are holding onto the low 97 Beyer speed figure he earned, but he looked much the best on this day to my eyes. If you’re still not convinced that ‘Chrome has the goods, the opportunity will be there to play against him at a very short price on Preakness Day, and perhaps the Belmont if he is alive for a piece of History.
As for my effort in the Road to Kentucky contest this year, I found my best stride in the final six weeks to pass tired handicappers. I saved my best for last, finishing 9th overall in Week 14. My effort reminded me of trainer Nick Zito’s comment about his horse Dialed In after he finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby in 2011:
“It was a very unusual race. He ran great in defeat. Let’s sum it up this way – it was the best eighth-place finish in the history of the Kentucky Derby. Right or wrong?”
Indeed, Nick. Indeed.
The Oracle is a two-time winner of Canterbury Park’s Handicapper of the Year award and frequent contributor to CanterburyLive.com .