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Kentucky Derby expert picks - Five reasons to oppose California Chrome

Ross Aylward 2 May 2014
Five reasons to take on California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby

California Chrome is the firm favourite to win the 2014 Kentucky Derby but we've got five reasons to oppose the pride of Santa Anita at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

After four straight victories, each gained by an average of six lengths, the California raider is all the rage to prevail in the 140th Run for the Roses, but he does not have history on his side and we reckon there are a few chinks in his armour.

Here's why you should look elsewhere when looking for a Louisville selection:

1 BREEDING

The colt is by low-budget stallion Lucky Pulpit, who couldn't cut it at the highest level during his own racing career and his best offspring before California Chrome was Rousing Sermon, who also fell short when tried in Grade 1 company. His dam Love The Chase only cost $8,000 and rags to riches stories are rarer than a Tiger Woods Major triumph these days.

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2 TRAINER

Art Sherman has become an overnight sensation at the age of 77 but will he be able to handle the pressure of having the Kentucky Derby favourite as his first ever runner in the race? He would surpass Charlie Whittingham as the oldest handler to land the Derby after that veteran struck at 76 with Sunday Silence in 1989, but hardly belongs in the same league.

3 TWO-YEAR-OLD FORM

When California Chrome was tried at Grade 1 level as a juvenile he had his limitations exposed, finishing only sixth behind Tamarando in the Del Mar Futurity. He may have gained revenge on that victor in the California Cup Derby but the fact is he still buckled on the big stage last September.

4 TEMPERAMENT

Sherman's charge was also soundly beaten in sixth behind Better Bet in November's Golden State Juvenile Stakes after pulling too freely early on. To be fair, he hasn't made the same mistake since, but will his temperament hold up in the white-hot atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby, including a lengthy pre-race parade? If the weather's warm, as forecast, get ready for a boil-over before the big event has even begun.

5 STAMINA

This will be California Chrome's first attempt at 10 furlongs and you can be sure some of his rivals will be setting a strong pace to see if he can last the distance. Wide-margin wins when allowed to come with a smooth run against inferior opposition are one thing, but how will he fare in the heat of battle at the business end of a brutal war of attrition like this? We think he'll be exposed as a flat-track bully!

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Kentucky Derby expert picks - Five reasons to oppose California Chrome

California Chrome is the firm favourite to win the 2014 Kentucky Derby but we've got five reasons to oppose the pride of Santa Anita at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

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