Always Dreaming has overtaken Classic Empire as the favourite to win the 2017 Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
According to OddsShark, the colt comes in at 4-1, while Classic Empire has slipped from 4-1 to 17-4 in the betting ahead of Wednesday's release of the post positions.
Here is the full set of odds:
|Kentucky Derby 2017: Betting Lines|
|Irish War Cry||+650|
|Lookin At Lee||+2800|
|Battle of Midway||+2800|
|J Boys Echo||+3300|
|State of Honor||+4000|
|Fast and Accurate||+6600|
The draw could have a significant effect on the betting lines, particularly if one of the two favourites receives an unfavourable post position or a slight outsider is handed a good one.
Per Christina Moore of America's Best Racing, the post positions that have produced the most winners are Nos. 5 and 10, with each producing nine victorious horses.
Posts Nos. 1 and 2 aren't far behind with eight and seven winners, respectively, but they last produced them in 1986 and 1978. Post 17 is the only one never to produce a winning horse.
While there are exceptions—such as California Chrome winning from Gate 5 in 2014—the majority of recent winners have come from the outside, specifically Gates 13 and above, per Moore.
Indeed, nine have since the turn of the millennium, including Nyquist last year from No. 13 and American Pharoah the year before that from No. 15.
Of course, the most important variable is the horse itself, and Always Dreaming is highly regarded for a reason.
For starters, he is trained by the legendary Todd Pletcher, who has won more than 4,000 races in his career, received no fewer than seven Eclipse Awards for his efforts and helped guide 2010 winner Super Saver to victory at Churchill Downs.
Always Dreaming showcased his talents in April's Florida Derby when he cleaned up against a field containing Kentucky rivals Gunnevera and State of Honor:
David Grening of the Daily Racing Form was impressed with him in training on Tuesday:
David Grening @DRFGrening
Always Dreaming much better today galloping in draw reins. Maybe got antsy for two strides during 1 1-4-mile gallop. Otherwise perfect.2017-5-2 09:57:55
Per BloodHorse's Alicia Wincze Hughes, Always Dreaming has been aggressive since arriving in Kentucky, but Pletcher is hoping to harness it in the race: "The horse is moving fantastic. We want to be able to control that energy and I think we've made big strides in doing that overnight. I would much rather be in this position than to come in with a horse not feeling good or hanging his head."
Classic Empire remains a top contender, too, even if he is no longer the favourite.
The colt has several impressive wins under his belt, including the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity and Breeders' Cup Juvenile races in 2016 and most recently the Arkansas Derby last month.
Trainer Mark Casse has been pleased with his preparations, per Erin Shea of BloodHorse:
Erin Shea @BH_EShea
Mark Casse said he wishes #KyDerby was today, Classic Empire doing great. Will gallop tomorrow.2017-4-30 13:29:11
Irish War Cry and Kentucky local McCraken (both 13-2) are also in with a strong shout—the latter in particular due to his past experience of winning at Churchill Downs—while the DRF's Mike Welsch named two of the outsiders to impress him in training:
Mike Welsch @DRFWelsch
State of Honor very good again this a.m. as was Practical Joke who has looked terrific on a regular basis since Friday work.2017-5-2 13:22:24
Provided they avoid a troublesome draw, any of the top contenders are capable of winning on the day, and it appears there may be one or two others who might be able to produce a shock result.
It's quite an open field in the Run for the Roses this year, but we could have a clearer picture once the post positions are revealed.