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
The biggest thing you'll need to find at the Kentucky Derby is value. That value clearly starts with betting on the favorite to win the race, Classic Empire. He's the first favorite to have a price of larger than 3 to 1 on his head, and for our money, he's the best horse in this field and the one with the fewest in the way of question marks. His sire, Pioneerof the Nile also sired Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, and outside of a shaky race at the Holy Bull, he hasn't been beaten when he's finished (we're not going to count the quirky time he tossed Irad Ortiz from the mount a few strides into the Hopeful Stakes back in September).
But clearly, we're not just going to be looking at favorites here. We're not amongst the believers in Always Dreaming, Irish War Cry or McCraken.
There's rain in the forecast for Saturday, and that could set things up well for a European colt who has had a history of running on the turf. Thunder Snow outkicked Epicharis in the UAE Derby to earn his place in the Kentucky Derby, and by all accounts, he's been very good in the paddocks at Churchill Downs all week. UAE Derby winners aren't historically legit Kentucky Derby contenders, but this could be an exception to the rule for Godolphin Racing.
Lookin At Lee doesn't have a great starting post on the far inside, but he does have good breeding with Lookin At Lucky as his sire. He's had a big heart down the stretch of a lot of races, and though he's never won a graded stakes race in his career, he could be a factor.
Way on the other side of the field, Patch could end up being a bit of a spooky horse to follow. He's only run in three races in his career, but his 101 Beyer Speed Rating in his second maiden effort was good enough to make him one of the favorites at the Louisiana Derby. He was second to Girvin that day, but Tyler Gaffalione gave him a poor ride. A better ride at the Derby with a nice, easy outside position could play well for a deep closer.
Gormley might present the best value on the board at a price of 15 to 1. He's got a championship jockey on his back in Victor Espinoza, and outside of his really poor race at the San Felipe Stakes in March, there's nothing that says this colt can't go on and win the whole darn Triple Crown. He's got good connections, good breeding, and the right style as a frontrunner to try to hold off the rest of this field.
Even Tapwrit at a price of 20 to 1 presents some great value, merely because he was a 2 to 1 choice at the Blue Grass Stakes and nearly an odds on favorite at the Tampa Bay Derby before that. This is a big overlay on a colt who has only run four times and has largely been considered one of the best in the field everywhere he has gone.
Kentucky Derby Trifecta Picks
It's going to be hard to pick against Classic Empire. The good news is that there's going to be a lot of great options here. If we had to pick a full card to box, it would include 1, 2, 10, 13, 14, 16, 18 and 20. Of course, most aren't going to want to box eight horses together without keying one, and for the sake of this article, we have to make a full blown trifecta pick.
Lookin At Lee has too much traction right now to think that he can't hit the board. We think he'll make some headway in the last couple furlongs and ultimately show while being fended off by Thunder Snow for second. But this is Classic Empire's race in the end, and we have a hard time thinking that he's going to be beaten if he's at his best.
Kentucky Derby Trifecta
#14 Classic Empire
#2 Thunder Snow
#1 Lookin At Lee