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Saturday, May 3, 2014
Kentucky Derby winner has value

By Jay Cronley
Special to ESPN.com

Those who have been predicting the end of horse racing probably had two bucks on Vicar's In Trouble, who is just now finishing the 140th Kentucky Derby.

Did you know that some TV "expert" picked Vicar's In Trouble to win the race? The horse did begin the race with value.

Now that the routine element of the sport has coupled itself to the bars-and-cherries side of gambling, slot machines, horse racing and its showcase events, the Triple Crown series and the Breeders' Cup weekend, appear set fairly well for the next 140 years.

This Derby had a crowd of 165,000 and probably great TV ratings again, ratings wherein the true fans of the sport, those at the tracks and simulcast joints, go unrated. So add half again to the ratings for a truer number.

The recent season at Santa Anita was representative of the sport today: The handle was up, the attendance rotten.

Horse racing hasn't changed. People have changed. The recent season at Santa Anita was representative of the sport today: The handle was up, the attendance rotten. Home betting operations give horse players cash to bet online. So now horse players ask what shoppers ask: Why go outside?

As for this Derby itself, wise guys and girls by the score, the "value" players, fell victim to the Fear of the Favorite disease. Avoiding the worn-out chalk in a $5,000 claiming race in the hinterland is one thing. Overlooking a terrific horse in the sport's best race is just sort of goofy.

The workout guy for the Daily Racing Form spent most of the week warning people off of California Chrome, saying the horse appeared stiff and almost out of sorts and, well, maybe a little weird-looking. On some of his reports on Chrome, it was like he was waving people around a wreck.

And as for "expert" selections, the trendy pick was for some reason Intense Holiday, who finished 12th or 13th, somewhere back there, nearer last than first. What "value" is there in finishing 12th?

Danza deserved better. He was banged around early and often.

Anybody with a future pool ticket on "Chrome" sees winning Derby favorites in a positive light.

Here's the lesson from this race.

Don't think too much.