Kentucky Derby Picks 2017: Predictions for Projected Lineup at Churchill Downs

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - APRIL 30: Horses get baths on the backside during Kentucky Derby and Oaks preparations at Churchill Downs on April 30, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

With Wednesday's post position draw for the 2017 Kentucky Derby drawing closer, it's time to take a look at how the field has prepared for the first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs.

Not all of the favourites have been flawless in the last couple of days, with Always Dreaming―arguably the horse with the best long speed in the entire field―looking difficult to handle, for instance, per Mike Welsh of Daily Racing Form:

The Florida Derby winner has flashed his spectacular pace too, and punters will be keeping a close eye on the colt. Here's a look at the top contenders in the lineup, as well as picks ahead of the post draw:

Kentucky Derby Picks
HorsePrediction
Classic Empire3rd
Always Dreaming1st
McCraken2nd
Irish War Cry5th
Gunnevera6th
Irap4th
Gormley7th
Horseracingnation.com

For the full lineup, visit the Kentucky Derby's official website.

Classic Empire maintains the top odds for the race ahead of the post draw, courtesy of his excellent record as a juvenile and win at the Arkansas Derby.

The colt, who is trained by Mark E. Casse, stands out for his tremendous closing speed and has already proved he can win races in multiple ways. His run in the Arkansas Derby was impressive not for raw speed but the way he made his way forward through traffic after he appeared to be crowded out.

Per Erin Shea of the Blood-Horse, trainer Casse has been very satisfied with the work the colt has put in so far:

Classic Empire did lose to both Irish War Cry and Gunnevera earlier this year in the Group 2 Holy Bull, and there are some questions regarding his consistency.

One horse that continues to impress is McCraken, who finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes after starting his career unbeaten in his first four races. He's already had success at Churchill Downs, and the pundits have been blown away with his work the past week.

At The Races' Steve Byk thinks his fans should be happy at this point:

Gunnevera is another strong finisher who should benefit from the distance at Churchill Downs, although he comes into the race having been blown out by Always Dreaming in the Florida Derby.

The loss in Florida should aid punters looking to score big, as the larger field favours his running style and high stamina. His work in the past week has been solid, though not as impressive as that of some of his contenders.

Irish War Cry has also worked well heading into the Derby, doing his work at Fair Hill in Maryland.