Kentucky Derby 2017: Early Look at Favorites in the Field and Latest Vegas Odds

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  Mario Gutierrez  atop Nyquist #13 wins the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery//Getty Images)
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

The 2017 Kentucky Derby is approaching on the rails, with The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports taking place on Saturday, May 6.

Favourites have performed well in recent Kentucky Derby races, and Always Dreaming and Classic Empire will be heavily backed as punters study the form.

Talented horses have prevailed in the past few years, and the field is currently wide open with a strong line-up.

Here is a look at the early odds:

2017 Kentucky Derby: Early Odds
HorseOdds
Classic Empire+400 (bet $100 to win $400)
Always Dreaming+500
Irish War Cry+800
Gunnevera+1000
McCraken+1000
Irap+1400
Tapwrit+1400
Gormley+1600
Battalion Runner+1600
Thunder Snow+1800
Malagacy+2000
Girvin+2000
Practical Joke+2000
Conquest Mo Money+2500
J Boys Echo+2800
Hence+2800
Lookin At Lee+5000
State of Honor+5000
Cloud Computing+5000
Patch+5000
Battle of Midway+5000
Sonneteer+5000
Royal Mo+5000
Untrapped+5000
Fast and Accurate+6600
OddsShark.com

Preview

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 7: Jockey Mario Gutierrez sprays connections with champagne after winning the 2016 Kentucky Derby aboard Nyquist on May 7, 2016 at Churchill Downs, Louisville.  (Photo by Horsephotos/Getty Images)
Horsephotos/Getty Images

The Run for the Roses has been dominated by the race-day favourite for five years, and a couple of horses have been given early backing as the world-famous derby takes place at Louisville's Churchill Downs.

The 143rd edition sees Classic Empire as the early favourite, with Always Dreaming marginally in his shadow.

Classic Empire initially struggled as a three-year-old, hampered by injury and a number of contradictory performances.

However, the 2016 champion juvenile has recently been back to his best and appears ready to edge the competition.

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 7: Nyquist with Mario Gutierrez up wins the 2016 Kentucky Derby  on May 7, 2016 at Churchill Downs, Louisville.  (Photo by Horsephotos/Getty Images)
Horsephotos/Getty Images

According to Bovada (h/t OddsShark.com), both colts reside at 5-1, equally vying for the public's affection.

Classic Empire's success at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was countered by a failure in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, making punters think again about placing an early bet.

Always Dreaming was victorious in April's Florida Derby (G1) and will be controlled by irrepressible jockey John Velazquez at the Kentucky Derby.

The Triple Crown event always produces incredible excitement, and Irish War Cry could prevail if the joint-favourites fade early.

Much like Classic Empire, the horse has found new energy and form in recent weeks after initially winning the Holy Bull.

Gunnevera and McCraken provide value at 10-1, per Bovada, and the leading five horses could all step up to the plate on race day due to their versatility and range of talents.