Kentucky Derby Draw 2017: Post Positions Viewing Info, Field and Race Preview

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: Sonneteer completes his final workout for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

While the anticipation for the Kentucky Derby begins to build long before race day itself, the draw for the post positions kicks the excitement up another level. 

Those involved in Saturday's Run for the Roses will discover what trap they'll be in on Wednesday. And while the showpiece event at Churchill Downs is notorious for its unpredictability, the deciding of the posts has proved to be crucial in determining the winner.

It means Wednesday's event is almost a spectacle in itself. Here's all the information you need on where to catch the draw, the expected field for this year's Derby and a look ahead to the race.

2017 Kentucky Derby: Field
StandingHorseJockeyTrainer
1GirvinMike E. SmithJoe Sharp
2Classic EmpireJulien R. LeparouxMark E. Casse
3GormleyN/AJohn A. Shirreffs
4IrapMario GutierrezDoug F. O'Neill
5Irish War CryRajiv MaraghH. Graham Motion
6Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin Suroor
7Always DreamingJohn R. VelazquezTodd A. Pletcher
8GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano
9Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad C. Brown
10J Boys EchoRobby AlbaradoDale L. Romans
11State of HonorJose LezcanoMark E. Casse
12TapwritJose L. OrtizTodd A. Pletcher
13HenceN/ASteven M. Asmussen
14Fast and AccurateN/AMichael J. Maker
15McCrackenBrian Joseph Hernandez Jr.Ian R. Wilkes
16Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer
17PatchN/ATodd A. Pletcher
18UntrappedN/ASteven M. Asmussen
19Lookin at LeeN/ASteven M. Asmussen
20SonneteerJ. Keith DesormeauxKent J. Desormeaux
KentuckyDerby.com

The post positions draw will be broadcast on NBC Sports on Wednesday from 11 a.m. (ET) and is available to stream via the NBC Sports App. Full schedule details are available on the Kentucky Derby website.

Preview

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  The field breaks from the starting gate during the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The draw is always a nervous time for trainers and jockeys involved in the Derby, with all concerned hoping to avoid one post number in particular—No. 1.

With 19 other horses driving toward the rail, the inside is not an enjoyable place to be for the horse or the jockey. It's no surprise, therefore, that the last winner of the Derby from the inside trap came 31 years ago, with Ferdinand galloping to victory in 1986.

Here's a reminder of how he did it:

Indeed, the No. 2 slot hasn't been favourable to runners either. The last horse to emerge from that spot and clinch the first leg of the Triple Crown was Affirmed, back in 1978.

Needless to say, a spot in the middle is desirable. Post 20 may not be quite as terrifying an experience for riders as being squashed up on the inside, although the only winner from the extreme outside is Big Brown in 2008.

Last year, Nyquist won from the 13th post, becoming the fifth horse to triumph from there since 1990. The most prosperous slots since 1930 have been No. 5, with the legendary California Chrome the last winner from there in 2014, and No. 10, with each yielding nine champions in total.

Classic Empire is the early favourite.
Classic Empire is the early favourite.Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Hoping for a favourable draw will be Mark E. Casse, who is the trainer of early race favourite Classic Empire. Per horse racing journalist Robert Yates, he's seeking to follow in the footsteps of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah:

Should Classic Empire be allotted one of those inside slots, his odds could quickly rise. Especially with competition like Always Dreaming at the top of the betting market.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the colt has looked in excellent form this year and ran tremendously at the Grade 1 Florida Derby in April. He came home by five lengths ahead of State of Honor and Gunnevera. 

Always Dreaming was excellent in Florida.
Always Dreaming was excellent in Florida.Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

There are some lingering doubts about his consistency, though, and he has not been comfortable during preparations, according to Mike Welsch of Daily Racing Form:

Hoping the two favourites get an undesirable allocation will be some of the horses that are a little bit further down in the betting. Irish War Cry is one, and he has the natural speed to potentially cope with one of the inside posts better than most; Gunnevera, meanwhile, will need to improve on his showing in Florida to get in the mix.

McCraken is an interesting prospect, too. The horse is local to Kentucky and has a perfect record of three wins from three races at Churchill Downs. If he's overcome the knock that hampered him at the Blue Grass Stakes, there's a great chance he'll make an impression on this grand stage.

Facts and figures courtesy of Horse Racing Nation