We are less than a week away from the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. The 2017 “Run for the Roses” is set to take place on Saturday, May 6th. The race takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Coverage for will start at 2:30pm ET on NBC. Post time is set for 6:34pm ET.
While the field has not officially been set, we have a good idea of the top contenders that will take the track. I’m confident enough to release my win/place/show predictions.
Keep in mind that the post position draw will take place on Wednesday at 11:00am ET. At that point the official morning-line odds will be announced. If you aren’t familiar with the morning-line odds, be sure to check out our Kentucky Derby betting guide.
You will have to wait to bet on the race at your local track until these odds are released, but you can wager online right now if you like. Several sportsbooks have already released odds to win the race.
Last year we saw one of the most predictable races in recent history with the top four finishers (Nyquist, Exaggerator, Gun Runner, and Mohaymen) coming in exactly as the odds had ranked them. That type of result is far from typical. While the odds-on favorite does often win, the majority of the field proves to be much more unpredictable.
Enough about the past. Let’s get to the picks for this year’s action.
Expert Handicapper Prediction on Winner of 2017 Kentucky Derby
Win: McCraken (10/1)
McCraken suffered a minor injury while training a little over a month ago, which should work to a slight advantage in our odds as some bettors are scared off. He had won four-straight races before the injury and finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes in early April. While the Blue Grass finish was a bit disappointing, it was his first race in almost two months, so I think of it as more of a warm-up to knock some of the rust off than a full-throttle competition.
This horse is a finisher. He keeps up with the front-runner’s pace well and turns it on down the stretch, a perfect fit for this distance. He’s listed at 10-to-1 odds right now, however, I expect those odds will settle down a little once handicappers see he is 100% healthy.
Place: Always Dreaming (5/1)
With 5-to-1 odds already, Always Dreaming will enter as one of the favorites to win the race. This Horse has three-straight victories to his credit, including the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park – a win that earned him a lot of attention.
It also helps to have a top-notch jockey in a race of this magnitude, and for that Always Dreaming will be ridden by John R. Velazquez, who rode Animal Kingdom to victory in 2011. Expect this horse to contend from start to finish.
Show: Classic Empire (4/1)
Classic Empire is the odds-on favorite right now thanks to a slew of high-profile finishes including a third-place finish at the Holy Bull Stakes and a win at the Grade I Arkansas Derby. He ended 2016 as the best juvenile in the US, the title given to the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Grade I Juvenile. That’s not all good news, however, as just two horses, Street Sense (2007) and Nyquist (2016) have won both events.
Odds have fluctuated from 12-to-1 to now 4-to-1 thanks in large part to his impressive showing at the Arkansas Derby, however, I do not get the sense that he has the stamina to finish first at the 1-1/4 mile distance against this class of competition.