Kentucky Derby 2017: Latest Purse Payout, Vegas Betting Odds and Field Lineup

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 03: Classic Empire, owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark E. Casse, exercises in preparation for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Durr/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Classic Empire remains top of the betting on the eve of the 2017 Kentucky Derby, as anticipation ahead of the big race at Churchill Downs begins to heighten.

The Mark E. Casse-trained favourite was handed an ideal post position in Wednesday's draw—he'll go off from Gate 14—cementing his status as the horse to beat. Anticipated to be his nearest rival is Always Dreaming, who will need to move quickly out of Post 5 to stay in touch with the leaders.

Here's the lineup in full for the 143rd edition of the Run for the Roses, including the Vegas betting odds for each of the 20 horses involved.

Kentucky Derby 2017: Lineup and Odds
PostHorseJockeyTrainerOdds
1Lookin At LeeCorey LanerieSteve Asmussen+2800
2Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin Suroor+1600
3Fast and AccurateChanning HillMike Maker+6600
4UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen+5000
5Always DreamingJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher+400
6State of HonorJose LezcanoMark Casse+4000
7GirvinMike SmithJoe Sharp+1600
8HenceFlorent GerouxSteve Asmussen+2200
9IrapMario GutierrezDoug O’Neill+2500
10GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano+1200
11Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer+2800
12SonneteerKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux+3300
13J Boys EchoLuis SaezDale Romans+3300
14Classic EmpireJulien LeparouxMark Casse+425
15McCrakenBrian Hernandez Jr.Ian Wilkes+650
16TapwritJose OrtizTodd Pletcher+2500
17Irish War CryRajiv MaraghGraham Motion+650
18GormleyVictor EspinozaJohn Shirreffs+1600
19Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad Brown+1600
20PatchTyler GaffalioneTodd Pletcher+3300
OddsShark

Odds are courtesy of books monitored by OddsShark. Figures accurate as of 5:30 a.m. (ET) on Friday, May 5.

     

Preview

Here's a breakdown of the facts and figures behind some of the most fancied horses going into Saturday's race:

Every owner, trainer and jockey would have been holding their breath ahead of Wednesday's post draw, with the dreaded spots on the extreme inside enough to rock the hopes of even the strongest competitors.

For those who bravely backed Classic Empire with his post position unknown, a sigh of relief would have been let out when he was allotted the 14th trap.

It means there's a strong chance of another favourite winning the Derby, as has been the case in recent additions, with triumphs for California Chrome, American Pharoah and Nyquist.

Alicia Wincze Hughes of Blood Horse got a look at the market leader in the buildup to the race:

Despite his status as the favourite, there have been some doubts about Classic Empire's pedigree in recent weeks, as he came home an in an unconvincing third position at Holy Bull in February.

However, his jockey Julian Leparoux believes he's over the foot abscess that hampered the 2016 juvenile champion on that day.

"It was a tough winter, I am not going to lie," he said to Newsday's Ed McNamara (h/t Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post). “Come January, we expected so much from him, and after the Holy Bull, he just went downhill from there. But [Casse] and his team did an awesome job. Hopefully, now there's no more hiccups, and we go to the Derby on a clear path. I think we can win it."

Always Dreaming is breathing down Classic Empire's neck in the betting and won't be too disappointed with Post 5 on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02: Always Dreaming, owned by Brooklyn Boyz Stables and trained by Todd Pletcher, exercises in preparation for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 02, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Gett
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

His trainer, the legendary Todd Pletcher, revealed in the buildup to the race that Always Dreaming had been overly "aggressive" during his preparations for the race.

According to David Grening of Daily Racing Form, Always Dreaming seems to be getting more at ease with his surroundings:

Although a spot on the inside would be daunting for a lot of horses and riders, Always Dreaming has shown in the past he has the pace to deal with the pressure that'll inevitably come from his right side; he was dominant in a recent win in the Florida Derby. If he can get out the gate well, he has a tremendous chance.

Plenty in the field will feel that's the case in what is a wide open race. As noted by sports betting website Covers, the weather should be relatively favourable:

It means punters may be tempted to look a little further down the betting than they may have done in recent years.

There are undoubtedly horses with some value, too. Gunnevera may have been left trailing by Always Dreaming at the Florida Derby, but he showed great form to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes in March. Irish War Cry, meanwhile, beat both Gunnevera and Classic Empire to win Holy Bull.

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