It's time to get serious about the Kentucky Derby since post positions were drawn Wednesday and the race is just days away.
Favored Always Dreaming has drawn the No. 5 post, and that should allow him to be well-positioned since he avoided the dreaded Nos. 1 and 2 posts.
Always Dreaming will go into the race at odds of 4-1, according to OddsShark. (That website lists the favorite at +400, which translates to 4-1).
Classic Empire (19-4) is the second favorite, and he drew the No. 14 hole. He should also be able to avoid much of the traffic that impacts so many horses in the Run for the Roses.
The race is scheduled for 6:34 p.m. ET Saturday at Churchill Downs and will be televised by NBC.
2017 Kentucky Derby Details
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Post Time: Saturday, May 6, at 6:34 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
As always, the Kentucky Derby has a full field of 20 horses for the most famous race in North America. Since the field is so crowded, tactics are often the most important factor when it comes to winning.
Jockeys and trainers must work in tandem for their horse to have the best trip and the greatest opportunity to win the race.
A speed horse that gets caught in traffic early has almost no chance to win, while a come-from-behind horse must stay close enough to allow the late surge to have some meaning in this race.
|2017 Kentucky Derby Entries, Post Positions and Odds|
|1||Lookin At Lee||Corey Lanerie||Steve Asmussen||28-1|
|2||Thunder Snow||Christophe Soumillon||Saeed bin Suroor||16-1|
|3||Fast and Accurate||Channing Hill||Mike Maker||66-1|
|4||Untrapped||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||50-1|
|5||Always Dreaming||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||4-1|
|6||State of Honor||Jose Lezcano||Mark Casse||40-1|
|7||Girvin||Mike Smith||Joe Sharp||16-1|
|8||Hence||Florent Geroux||Steve Asmussen||22-1|
|9||Irap||Mario Gutierrez||Doug O’Neill||25-1|
|10||Gunnevera||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano||12-1|
|11||Battle of Midway||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer||28-1|
|12||Sonneteer||Kent Desormeaux||Keith Desormeaux||33-1|
|13||J Boys Echo||Luis Saez||Dale Romans||33-1|
|14||Classic Empire||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||19-4|
|15||McCraken||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Ian Wilkes||13-2|
|16||Tapwrit||Jose Ortiz||Todd Pletcher||25-1|
|17||Irish War Cry||Rajiv Maragh||Graham Motion||13-2|
|18||Gormley||Victor Espinoza||John Shirreffs||16-1|
|19||Practical Joke||Joel Rosario||Chad Brown||16-1|
|20||Patch||Tyler Gaffalione||Todd Pletcher||33-1|
Classic Empire comes into the Kentucky Derby as something of a mystery. While he won the Breeders' Futurity and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at the end of the 2016 racing season, he developed a foot abscess that led to an unimpressive third-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes in February.
He bounced back with an impressive win in the Arkansas Derby, and that race has given jockey Julian Leparoux hope that Classic Empire will be in his best form for the Derby.
"It was a tough winter, I am not going to lie," Leparoux said, per Ed McNamara of Newsday. "Come January, we expected so much from him, and after the Holy Bull, he just went downhill from there. But (trainer) Mark (Casse) and his team did an awesome job."
Jennie Rees @TracksideJennie
You don't see it as much now, but #FlaDerby winner Always Dreaming came off track bouncing @ChurchillDowns. #KentuckyDerby @kyderbykids https://t.co/MZ0otsEArE2017-5-2 09:58:08
Always Dreaming should have an excellent chance in this wide-open race. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he made a bold statement in winning the Florida Derby earlier this year.
That race has always been a strong prep for the Derby, as four Florida Derby winners have been victorious in the Run for the Roses over the past 15 years.
Always Dreaming has hit the board in all five of his career starts with three victories, one second and one third. Pletcher is one of the top trainers in the sport, as he has won the Eclipse Award seven times in his career.
However, that accolade does not correlate to success in the Derby. He has entered 45 horses over the years (he regularly enters multiple horses), but he has had just one winner. He hopes to change that with Classic Empire.
Gunnevera could turn out to be one of the rags-to-riches stories that finds its way to the forefront in horse racing from time to time.
The colt was purchased at the bargain price of $16,000 and is trained by Antonio Sano. This is the first time the trainer has had a horse in the Derby, and Gunnevera has four victories in nine starts and earnings of $1,170,000 in his career. He will start from the 10th post.
Gunnevera's most impressive victory was his win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes as he whipped the field by 5 ¾ lengths after drawing off in his stretch run.
Trainer Joe Sharp has a potential contender in Girvin, who has won three-of-four lifetime races while running exclusively in New Orleans. He will start out of the No. 7 post.
His last race was a victory in the Louisiana Derby April 1, and Girvin has won $874,000 to this point in his career. He comes into the race with odds of 16-1, but there is a potential problem with a cracked hoof that could keep him from running his best race.
Key information in writing this story came from OddsShark.