2017 Kentucky Derby Insider Preview & Predictions
Published on May 04, 2017
The race is about to begin. The 143rd rendition of the Kentucky Derby is upon us, and the anticipation is electrifying! To say that the Kentucky Derby is a big deal in horse racing could definitely be taken as dry humor by some. The Kentucky Derby is the most popularized horse race of the year, and as most of the world knows, within the sport it’s this special race that lays claim to the title of ‘most prestigious.’ The site of the yearly event is located at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in likeable Louisville, KY. The event jumps into action on the first Saturday of every fifth month each year, and now it’s almost time for this year’s championship race – May 6th, 2017.
It’s an event for racing fans, horse bettors, and festival enthusiasts alike – the horses aren’t the only attractions being thrust into the spotlight!
The elite racehorses set to run the ten furlongs (1 ¼ mi) aren’t the only shows at the racetrack. Another uniquely popular staple at the Kentucky Derby is the multitude of fluorescent sunhats in one location. Bright canary yellows, baby blues, brilliant whites, beautiful browns, and every shade of color in between are put on display atop the stylish headwear worn by the women race fans in attendance. The eccentric sunhat tradition has long been one of the identifying hallmarks of Derby Day. Ladies dress to impress at the track, adorning ornate sunhats which display incredibly captivating designs – each distinct unto itself.
Once horse bettors are able to pull away from admiring all of the lovely hats around them, they turn those enticed stares towards the more lucrative beasts being saddled. Judging the odds, horse racing handicappers are experts at analyzing a racehorse’s previous performances and predicting precisely how that horse will finish based on the contenders it’s running alongside. They can consistently bet a horse to win, place, and show with accuracy. Stringing these bets together, they are also well versed in betting exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, and pick threes-fours-fives and sixes. Horserace wagering is second nature to them, and the Kentucky Derby is their Super Bowl. They’ll be the guys at the track still looking to bet while the race is actually running.
For those interested in watching the race instead of betting it, all the anticipated excitement jumps out of the gate this May 6th at 6:46P EST during the 12th race at Churchill Downs.
Every racehorse owner dreams of having their own horse in the Kentucky Derby, but the road to reach this respected race is a rocky one. Consonance aside, many racehorse owners never even get their shot at qualifying for the big event. For them and the rest of the horse racing world, the Kentucky Derby is the equivalent of all seven World Series games packed into one day. The winner of the race earns coveted bragging rights until the start of the next year’s derby, not to mention incredible amounts of first place prize money and distinguishing awards! Take a look at the payout for the top finishers of the Kentucky Derby this year:
|6th Place||A Long Ride Home|
If that’s not enough money to make you want to train a horse of your own, then ok, horse racing might not be the sport for you. If you are indeed that person, I don’t know of a better way to make $1.24M in less than five minutes. Do you?
Further down the page, we’ll take a peek at the twenty-three could have been winners. Now it’s time to spotlight the remaining twenty-one would be winners. They all should definitely be contenders, but not every horse that’s running in the Kentucky Derby is created equal. Don’t get me wrong, every racehorse competing Saturday is a possible winner; but not all of them have the same track competition and winning finishes. This is what separates the best of the bunch from the rank of the rest. Here’s how they’ll line up in the gate this Saturday, each horse listed by which gate number it will be in:
Let’s take a look at the current contending racehorses scheduled to be at the gate, this May 6th at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. These are the racetrack headliners of the 12th Race in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
The Venezuelan team who’s captaining this racehorse consists of its jockey, Javier Castellano, and the trainer, Antonio Sano. Although Castellano is a recent inductee to the horse racing Hall of Fame, neither one of the native Venezuelans has a Kentucky Derby win; but both certainly have their eyes fixed on the 1st Place prize money offered to the winner this year.
Couple the team’s motivation with the fact that they also have an amazing racehorse to make a run for the roses with, and you can already visualize Gunnevera crossing the finish line a nose ahead of the next best! This is a horse you’ll want to consider betting for a 1st Place finish. He will almost certainly finish near the front of the pack, and you can guarantee to see him on the television neck and neck with the top three horses
Gunnevera has won a total of $1.1M throughout its racing career which skyrockets the racehorse to the 2nd most winningest competitor in this year’s Kentucky Derby, only bested monetarily by Classic Empire. This is an interesting accomplishment because Gunnevera has won four of the past nine career starts; which means the racehorse has finished well in almost all of its performances. Racing against such rigid competitors has readily equipped Gunnevera for the task ahead – winning the Kentucky Derby!
The jockey, John Velazquez, and the dark colored colt’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, make a great team. They both have one previous win in the prized Kentucky Derby’s winner circle. On May 6th, they’ll attempt to utilize their past winning experience in the coming race at Churchill Downs and will be aiming for nothing short of a 1st Place finish this year as well.
Always Dreaming’s stride is looking great. The racehorse smoked the competition in the last Florida Derby, but that should be no surprise. The colt tends to find regularity in racing near the front of the pack or outright leading the group down the stretches. Always Dreaming’s naysayers believe this is strictly due to the racehorse performing against weaker competition than others in the Kentucky Derby. Or perhaps he is indeed just that good. The deciding race this Saturday will be the telling tale to those suspicions.
Always Dreaming is the current odds leader and the acclaimed favorite racehorse of all the other Kentucky Derby participants.
The jockey, Julien Leparoux, and the colt’s trainer, Mark Casse, are both seeking to clinch their first ever Kentucky Derby victories this Saturday in Louisville. Winning the coveted 1st Place position would be the pinnacle of their careers, and they certainly have the horse to do it with.
Classic Empire has become one of the horses drawing a lot of attention this year. Its name has and is being thrown around as the potential winner of the Kentucky Derby. As a two-year-old colt, it won the 2016 Breeder’s Cup, Juvenile. Its most recent victory at the Arkansas Derby has prepared the racehorse to be one of the more stiff competitors in the race. In addition to winning this prestigious event, another dread-inducing factor to consider is the horse’s patronage; this racehorse is also kin to the Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh! Both were sired by the Triple Crown winner’s father, Pioneer Of The Nile. That should be enough to shake the foundations of any bettor’s strategy – unless, of course, this horse happens to be your pick for the winner.
If this beauty isn’t one of your picks, a note worth mentioning is the horse’s unwillingness to train in the previous two practice sessions it was scheduled for. Perhaps you can find some comfort in this because it could spell trouble for the racing team during the 1 ¼ mile long track.
The jockey who’s set to give McCracken its legendary win at Churchill Downs is Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr. His riding expertise, added alongside the expert training provided by Ian Wilkes, make for a dangerous combo.
McCracken is coming off an ankle sprain injury that forced the horse to miss the Tampa Bay Derby. Although the ailment has been appropriately fixed, it’s quite unclear as to whether the racehorse is completely recovered or will perform to the best of its ability in this year’s Kentucky Derby. McCracken has extensive experience at Churchill Downs compared to the other horses in the event; it has run the racetrack a total of three times before.
Rajiv Maragh has the honor of being Irish War Cry’s jockey in this year’s derby. Although he has never ridden a winning horse in the Kentucky Derby before, the horse’s trainer does have winning experience in previous derby races. Graham Motion has trained a winning Kentucky Derby horse back in 2011. After six years, he looks to add another victory to his training record.
Irish War Cry has a winning record that demands attention. The New Jersey native racehorse has won four of its five career starts, making the horse challenge not to be taken lightly. No other New Jersey native horse has won the Kentucky Derby since Cavalcade in 1934. Irish War Cry will attempt to bury that losing streak this Saturday, snapping an eighty-two-year winning drought for horses from New Jersey.
Jockey Victor Espinoza is scheduled to sit atop the impressive Gormley this Saturday. Accompanied and assisted by John Shirreffs, the racehorse’s trainer, they both will be looking to ride Gormley straight into the winner’s circle after a victory in Kentucky.
Heading into the derby, Gormley sits third in the point standings on the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby.’ Its most notable win to date is the Santa Anita Derby. That’s the final race Gormley ran leading into the Kentucky Derby. Coming off a win may just give this thoroughbred the chance it needs to steal a victory away from the other notable racehorses.
Mike Smith, the horse racing Hall of Fame jockey and trainer, Joe Sharp, are set to give Girvin a running shot at a victory in this year’s derby. This will be Smith’s first time atop the racehorse.
Girvin crushed the competition at the Louisiana Derby, finishing in the 1st Place position. Although coming off a big win, the racehorse has recently cracked his lead right hook during training events leading up to the Kentucky Derby. The trainer, Sharp, has given it a custom horseshoe that provides therapeutic properties. This should alleviate any missed strides by Girvin while galloping down the stretch this Saturday against the other competitors. Winning three of the four starts made, Girvin has a winning percentage that makes him a real threat in this year’s derby race at Churchill.
Florent Geroux will be riding the colt racehorse this Saturday. He and trainer Steve Asmussen gear up to put this horses name in conjunction with the rest of the legendary Kentucky Derby winners.
Hence ended the first three races of its career with losses, but was able to rally back with smaller wins that scored the racehorse some much needed Kentucky Derby points which helped its standings. Hence became a true threat when it snatched the victory at the Sunland Derby. It was this triumph that punched its ticket into the Kentucky Derby. Therefore, Hence may be able to ride its victory momentum into another win this coming May 6th.
The jockey, Flavien Prat, will be steering this warhorse down the stretches this coming May 6th. Alongside the expert guidance of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, they will be fighting their own war against horses as they make a run for the roses.
Battle Of Midway is currently recovering from the beating Gromley game him in the Santa Anita Derby last April. Battle Of Midway was just barely bested down the final stretch, giving him a 2nd Place finish. It will be revenge it’s after this time at the Kentucky Derby. Not without its own list of accomplishments, however, Battle of Midway’s most recent victory came March 9th. Although its wins are few, Battle of Midway is still a contender even at the price provided.
Lookin At Lee won its first race at the Ellis Park Juvenile. The 2016 season was a good one for the racehorse; it finished three races with huge finishes that put the horse in the running for the roses. Looking At Lee has the highest drop in odds of any other horse scheduled to run in the Kentucky Derby. The given odds for Lookin At Lee, since the betting lines opened, are exponentially lower than they were when the horse was initially listed. That bodes extremely well for this horse and is probably due to the new jockey announced by trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen has three other horses in the race, but this is the racehorse that offers the most bang for your buck.
Practical Joke is one of the few racehorses to move negatively in odds; meaning, the horse’s odds advantage has actually decreased since it entered the running. This can be due to many reasons, but the most likely one is new competition. Either way, it does not bode well for the horse’s winning possibility.
A strong horse out of the gate, in terms of record, Practical Joke won its first three professional races. However, the horse’s less admirable showings in the following races also caused it to lose against three other Kentucky Derby contestants. That’s why this fairly good racehorse has such high potential value. If you want a longshot horse to cheer on with your bet, you are really getting a great price and even better value
State Of Honor achieved its first and only victory in the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine Racetrack. The racehorse placed in four other races by finishing second yet hasn’t been able to put another victory on the scoreboard yet. This coming May 6th at the Kentucky Derby, State Of Honor will attempt to put win number two in the books with a triumph over the other runners.
Tapwrit is another of the few racehorses to move negatively in odds; meaning, the horse’s odds advantage has actually decreased since it entered the running. This can be due to many reasons, but the most likely one is new competition. Either way, it does not bode well for the horse’s winning possibility.
Tapwrit did have a close race with McCracken, just pulling up short in 2nd place last February in the Sam Davis Stakes. The racehorse bounced back into action to win the Tampa Bay Derby and finishing ahead of State Of Honor in the process. Tapwrit will attempt to secure another victory over the rest of the field this Saturday in Kentucky.
Untrapped has only one win heading into the Kentucky Derby which comes from a previous race at Churchill Downs. A string of 2nd place finishes in tough races was enough to clinch the eighteenth position in the point standings. Untrapped experience winning at Churchill may prove to be a crucial factor in how the horse finishes this coming Saturday in Kentucky.
Untrapped is another one of the few racehorses to move negatively in odds; meaning, the horse’s odds advantage has actually decreased since it entered the running. This can be due to many reasons, but the most likely one is new competition or post position. Either way, it does not bode well for the horse’s winning possibility.
Patch has all the makings of a true underdog story. As a young colt, this horse lost one of its eyes in an unfortunate accident before ever making its first race. The loss of its eye hasn’t quenched the spirit of the horse though. The racehorse finished 2nd, just behind Girvin, in the Louisiana Derby last April Fool’s Day. But the horse is no joke and ready to prove it when the gates open May 6th at Churchill Downs.
Fast And Accurate is another of the few racehorses to move negatively in odds; meaning, the horse’s odds advantage has actually decreased since it entered the running. This can be due to many reasons, but the most likely one is new competition or post position. Either way, it does not bode well for the horse’s winning possibility.
However, Fast And Accurate is coming from a hot win streak. The racehorse has three consecutive wins to accent his record highlights but has yet to make a run on a dirt racetrack. That’s the questionable factor that may have moved Fast And Accurate’s odds backward when compared to the competition. We’ll find out during its performance at Churchill Downs.
Sonneteer is, unfortunately, winless in all 10 of the career races it has started. The highest showing the racehorse made was a second place finish in the Rebel Stakes event. Sonneteer is ready to prove it belongs with the rest of the competitors and secure its first victory in a legendary racing event. After accumulating 30 qualifying points, it has bought itself a spot in running the 143rd Kentucky Derby race.
J Boys Echo is another of the few racehorses to move negatively in odds; meaning, the horse’s odds advantage has actually decreased since it entered the running. This can be due to many reasons, but the most likely one is new competition or post position. Either way, it does not bode well for the horse’s winning possibility.
But befitting a comic book character of a name is the fact that J Boys Echo ran away with the win during the Gotham Stakes. The colt racehorse is still at large, and J Boys Echo might just make another attempt at stealing a win from one of the more notable horses outside of Gotham and into the Kentucky Derby.
Thunder Snow has traveled halfway across the world from Dubai to make his Kentucky Derby appearance. Coming off of three solid victories in the past three races, this horse is ready to keep its winning streak on a roll and prove the odds wrong when the gates open Saturday.
Thunder Snow is another of the few racehorses to move negatively in odds; meaning, the horse’s odds advantage has actually decreased since it entered the running. This can be due to many reasons, but the most likely one is new competition or post position. Either way, it does not bode well for the horse’s winning possibility.
Like the above-mentioned longshot horse, Irap is one more of the few racehorses to move negatively in odds; which also means that the horse’s odds advantage has actually decreased since it entered the running like the rest of the horses mentioned. Again, this can be due to many reasons, but the most likely one is new competition or post position. Either way, like the previous horses, it does not bode well for this its winning possibility either.
Do not let this deter you from betting this horse though! One thing Irap has the ability to do is dish out humble pie. It’s not unfamiliar with being a longshot a few times before. The racehorse galloped over three other Kentucky Derby contestants (J Boys Echo, McCracken, Practical Joke) to win the Blue Grass Stakes. Come Saturday, May 6th the one-time winner Irap will look to do it again at Churchill!
Last Saturday (29 APR 2017) at the Santa Anita racetrack, Royal Mo ran six full furlongs in a captured time of one minute thirteen seconds (1:13). Royal Mo is ranked 21st by the current standings in the Kentucky Derby. Royal Mo is an alternate entry for this year’s Kentucky Derby; meaning, he won’t be actually running the event itself. Instead, this racehorse will be forced to sit the big race out unless one of the other horses is scratched for whatever the reason may be. Then Royal Mo would get a shot at running for the roses. The team is on the bubble, waiting to see what happens.
It is important to remember that one of these horses will be scratched before the Kentucky Derby begins. There are only twenty post positions available for the taking. As the final cut draws near, it’s time to pick a horse and place a bet on your favorite runner!
Horses can run in the Kentucky Derby only once because it is limited to horses three years of age; which is precisely why each year trainers are paid exorbitant amounts to develop a racehorse’s peak performance factors. If a racehorse can’t perform to the best of their ability, the horse owner may opt to remove them from the race entirely. If this option becomes necessary, the horse becomes what’s known as a ‘scratch.’
Scratched horses get their names honestly enough. It comes from the scratch mark made by crossing the horse’s name off the list of eligible runners.
There are a number of horses that were originally intended to run in the Kentucky Derby, but for one reason or another, they have been scratched from the races. Although the reasons for each racehorse removal can vary wildly, most of the reasons behind the decision-making process to scratch a horse are determined by specific considerations based on the circumstances surrounding the horse’s ability to run the race to the best of its ability. If the racehorse trainer predicts a loss to be the most likely outcome or the health of the animal is called into question, it could be in the owner’s best interest to scratch their horse from the race. For them, a loss is more costly than never running the race at all.
Unfortunate as the situation may be, these horses have also missed racing in what would undoubtedly be the biggest event of its career. So much time and effort seemingly wasted for the last minute decision involving probability. I suppose if the beast could speak, it might protest this – we would be hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth at least.
In the case of the Kentucky Derby, it most likely boils down to the point standings needed to run the race at all. Although all of the horses listed below qualified to be in the derby, eligible runners are the ones with the highest amount of points in the standings before the derby begins on May 6th.
These horses, unfortunately, are confined to being a simple footnote in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Below is a list of racehorses which were originally listed to participate in running the race, but they were subsequently scratched from the list of starters for one reason or another:
It is important to understand that a racehorse can be pulled from any race for any reason at any time. Performance may have nothing to do with the issue. It’s not always about the money when making the call to scratch a horse from a race. Sometimes it most certainly is. Other times, a life-threatening condition or minor health problems to the horse prevent its trainers from approving that the racehorse should run the track. In some situations, the horse may have caused bodily harm to itself while already posted in the gate. Inevitably, that horse can no longer run due to its injuries. There are many viable excuses for a horse to bow out of the big race.
Another aspect worth mentioning about these scratches is that the wagers already taken on the twenty-three scratched horses are not refunded! Basically, if you booked Fact Finding for $100 then you’re down and out $100 now that the horse has been scratched. It’s not against the rules and everywhere that books race bet tickets will tell you the same thing: if your selected horse is scratched from running the Kentucky Derby then you will not get your money back. Sounds pretty unfair, right?
Eh. How else are they going to recoup the $2M prize purse – Mint Juleps? I don’t think so…