- Associated Press - Saturday, May 3, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Trainer Dallas Stewart has become the exacta players’ best friend in the Kentucky Derby.

For the second straight year, one of his horses ran second at long odds behind a Derby favorite. The exacta is a popular bet that requires the selection of a race’s first two finishers in precise order.

While California Chrome won Saturday as the 5-2 favorite, Commanding Curve rallied for the place spot at 37-1, inflating the exacta payoff to $340 for a $2 wager.

Last year, Stewart’s 34-1 shot Golden Soul ran second to Orb, producing a $981.60 return.

Commanding Curve was easy to overlook. He had won only one of his previous six races and was third in latest effort, the Louisiana Derby.

He dropped back to 18th in the Derby before kicking home strongly in the lane under Shaun Bridgmohan to finish 1¾ lengths behind California Chrome.

“All I had to do was ride him hard, and he gave me everything,” Bridgmohan said. “Once I got him down the lane, man, he lengthened his stride and really dug in for me.”

Stewart would love to win a Derby, but a pair of consecutive seconds was a decent consolation prize.

“I would never get frustrated over that,” he said. “There are lots of things to be frustrated about. Getting beat in a horse race isn’t one of them.”


TODD SQUAD: Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out four horses in the Derby, dropping his record to 1 for 40.

Danza got third, the best finish among the “Todd Squad.”

We Miss Artie was 10th, Intense Holiday finished 12th, and Vinceremos ended up 17th.

Pletcher’s lone Derby winner was Super Saver in 2010.

Danza, named for actor Tony Danza of “Taxi” and “Who’s the Boss?”, salvaged something for the barn with the in-the-money finish.

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