Commentary

A good place

Updated: May 5, 2014, 3:43 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Here's where we are.

The people made California Chrome the favorite. The experts, most of whom are self-proclaimed, picked at and picked around the winner and were responsible for the decent win price of seven bucks. Chrome won the race at the break, settling into the preferred stalking pocket like a ball in a glove. PETA might have learned a little something about the love of a horse from the victorious owners. A donkey on the silks of a Derby winner, top-flight horse racing is no longer as humorless as a stall that needs mucking. Whereas the victory was clear-cut, let's not start hording Triple Crown souvenirs just yet. Forget the slow time. Time matters to jailbirds, not railbirds. But Chrome was not exactly sailing at the wire. That was a hard race. And forget "local shooters," as the experts who know the lingo but don't know where the money went call the Maryland crab cake cupcakes. The Preakness usually runs to form. The Baltimore race might fit Chrome. The Belmont Stakes is a different kind of torture. Go run a mile and a half and then we'll talk.

There was legitimate trouble in the Derby, trouble that when straightened out could point toward a big win. Danza bounced around like a lottery ball and still had the nerve to finish a nice third. And the rotten post hurt Wicked Strong, who looked like he was trying to merge at a high rate of speed onto the 405 in LA. Real trouble, not a Blake Griffin flop, keeps a good horse from winning.

This Derby was great for horse racing. There's no better sport for TV: The Kentucky Derby is short, sweet, has memorable figures, is exciting and is unpredictable. The weather was perfect and the crowd was monstrous and mannerly, a great mix of youth and the ancient. The TV ratings were tremendous, as usual, a double figure number, 10.1, which compares to the NBA rating numbers of 2's and 3's. And this great Derby rating doesn't even include horse racing's best fans, those at the tracks and at the simulcast joints. And what could be more fun than having an opinion that turned up as good as an entry-level star, and better than most experts.

The chief regret from Derby 140 is not spending more and better time with Commanding Curve, who ran second at a ton-to-one. This horse had everything you look for in a long shot capable of closing from just behind the middle of nowhere to land second. What's more important than a race over the track? Two races over the track? Well, this one had THREE races at Churchill Downs, more than any other horse. And guess what. They were three nice closing routes, a first, a second and a third. And guess again. The Beyer numbers were on a marked upswing. Oh well, there was always the California Chrome-All gesture, a puny $36 investment that turned out to have, you guessed it, wicked value.

The top two Derby finisher initials were CC and CC.

This email arrived: Congrats on touting Chrome from the second future pool on. Could I please have some of what you won?

What do you think that was, a Keeno hit?

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