2017 Kentucky Derby
Date and Time: Saturday, May 6, 2017, 6:34 p.m. ET
Location: Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY
Favored Kentucky Derby Odds: Classic Empire (4/1)
Kentucky Derby TV Coverage: NBC
Will Any Horse Win the 2017 Triple Crown?
Classic Empire can be had at a price of +1850 to win the Triple Crown, and we think he stands the best chance of doing so. But if you're a believer that one of Classic Empire, Irish War Cry, Always Dreaming or McCraken will ultimately win this race, there's a really good chance that winner will ultimately be odds-on at the Preakness Stakes in a couple weeks. There are a few ponies waiting in the wings, including Conquest Mo Money and potentially Royal Mo, but aside from that, there shouldn't be a lot of new challengers to the throne.
Let's not forget that Classic Empire's daddy also sired American Pharoah. The connections are alarmingly similar between the two, not the least of which is the fact that the two look exactly the same on the track. Maybe you're better served just betting on Classic Empire to win the Triple Crown three times the price, but there's value here on wagering on a Triple Crown winner in this field with four clearly defined favorites and no other legitimate challengers on paper.
Will Lookin At Lee Finish in the Top 3?
Again, there's value here on wagering on the yes as we see it. Lookin At Lee is garnering a lot of attention from the professional handicappers out there, and these are the people you really need to be listening to when handicapping out the Kentucky Derby yourself. Lookin At Lee doesn't have great results, for sure. He's never won a graded stakes race, and he's never really come all that close either. His Beyers? They're pretty darn bad for a colt running in the Kentucky Derby.
But there's something that keeps bringing bettors back here. We hate the inside post for Lookin At Lee; no two ways around that. But we do know that the added distance should help him here. He's a big closer and has a heart of gold at the ends of races, and even when he's been nowhere near finishing at the head of the pack, he's always found himself with his last few strides being his best. The jockey change to Corey Lanerie is a bit scary as well, but there's a reason that Steve Asmussen has run Lookin At Lee in six graded stakes races in a row leading into the Kentucky Derby. He's a believer. You should be at a price of over 5 to 1, too.
Will Always Dreaming, McCraken or Irish War Cry Win the Kentucky Derby?
The three secondary favorites to Classic Empire are all lumped together for the purposes of this prop bet, and we're not all that sure we want to be a part of these three. Each has his flaw that could be deadly.
Always Dreaming doesn't have a great post at No. 5, and John Velazquez, for as great of a jockey as he is, hasn't succeeded on the big stage at Churchill Downs in recent years. He needed three races to break his maiden, and though he's been great since that point, he's only run in one graded stakes race in his career, the Florida Derby against a relatively weak field.
McCraken is really, really trendy at the moment. He's been the favorite in each of his last three races, and he's 4-for-5 in his career. The loss at the Blue Grass Stakes though, was alarming, and we didn't think that Brian Hernandez did him any favors. Trainer Ian Wilkes doesn't have a lot of confidence amongst the jockeys, and the fact that Hernandez is still onboard is telling us that the jockeys don't believe as much as the bettors seem to.
Irish War Cry seems to be feast or famine. He can be really good. He also only has lost one race, and he finished seventh at the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The field at the Wood Memorial ended up producing exactly one contender for the Kentucky Derby, and Irish War Cry is in. He has beaten Classic Empire and Gunnevera, but that one race at the Holy Bull was really his only true claim to fame of note as we see it.