The 143rd running of the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby, is set to take place on Saturday, and now we know the 20 horses in the field and their post positions following Wednesday's draw.
Certain post positions have produced more Kentucky Derby winners than others.
For example, this year's favorite contender, Always Dreaming, earned position No. 5, which has "historically performed the best as horses starting from that gate have won the race 13 times since 1900," according to Joe Osborne of OddsShark.
Therefore, the Vegas oddsmakers, who were already high on Always Dreaming, now have even more reason to make him the favorite.
Let's take a look at the post positions for each horse in this year's field and make some updated picks and predictions ahead of Saturday's race.
|1||Lookin at Lee||Steve Asmussen||Corey Lanerie||20-1|
|2||Thunder Snow||Saeed bin Suroor||Christophe Soumillon||20-1|
|3||Fast and Accurate||Mike Maker||Channing Hill||50-1|
|4||Untrapped||Steve Asmussen||Ricardo Santana Jr.||30-1|
|5||Always Dreaming||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||5-1|
|6||State of Honor||Mark Casse||Jose Lezcano||30-1|
|7||Girvin||Joe Sharp||Mike Smith||15-1|
|8||Hence||Steve Asmussen||Florent Geroux||15-1|
|9||Irap||Doug O'Neill||Mario Gutierrez||20-1|
|10||Gunnevera||Antonio Sano||Javier Castellano||15-1|
|11||Battle of Midway||Jerry Hollendorfer||Flavien Prat||30-1|
|12||Sonneteer||Keith Desormeaux||Kent Desormeaux||50-1|
|13||J Boys Echo||Dale Romans||Luis Saez||20-1|
|14||Classic Empire||Mark Casse||Julien Leparoux||4-1|
|15||McCraken||Ian Wilkes||Brian Hernandez||5-1|
|16||Tapwrit||Todd Pletcher||Jose Ortiz||20-1|
|17||Irish War Cry||Graham Motion||Rajiv Maragh||6-1|
|18||Gormley||John Shirreffs||Victor Espinoza||15-1|
|19||Practical Joke||Chad Brown||Joel Rosario||20-1|
|20||Patch||Todd Pletcher||Tyler Gaffalione||30-1|
Updated Picks and Predictions
First Place: Always Dreaming
Always Dreaming is the clear favorite in this year's Kentucky Derby odds, and his post position draw on Wednesday only made him more favorable.
Heading into the draw, Always Dreaming was favored in part because he won the Florida Derby by five lengths.
According to OddShark's Mike Dempsey, the Florida Derby is a solid historical predictor of the Kentucky Derby winner; "over the past 15 years the Florida Derby has been the most productive with four Derby winners."
But now that trainer Todd A. Pletcher's colt has earned the No. 5 position, he has even more reason to be favored to place first at Churchill Downs, as the position has produced 13 winners, as Osborne noted.
Pletcher has three horses in this year's field, so his chances of coming away with a winner on Saturday are already pretty high. But given that he trains Always Dreaming—far and away the favorite this weekend—he just may leave with a rose garland.
Second Place: Gormley
Always Dreaming may be the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, but if there's a horse who can challenge him right up until the end, it might be Gormley.
In recent history, Kentucky Derby winners have also won their final prep. Per Dempsey, "the last six Derby winners all won their final prep. The last not to do so was Super Saver in 2010, who lost the Arkansas Derby by a neck."
Gormley is coming off a triumphant win in the Santa Anita Derby—the most highly anticipated Kentucky Derby qualifier each year—holding off Battle of Midway and Royal Mo.
The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby will be a long race for Gormley, whose speed has been better-suited to his previous races such as the 1 ⅛-mile Santa Anita Derby and the one-mile Sham Stakes.
"Gormley has raced predominantly on the speed—the one ace where he didn't was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, his only failure—but his pedigree suggests that he has good prospects of staying the Derby trip of 1 ¼ miles," according to the official Kentucky Derby website.
Third Place: McCraken
McCraken is also a high favorite in the Vegas odds for this year's Derby, but he comes third in these predictions due to an ankle injury suffered in training on February 28.
According to the Derby's official site, the injury was "described as 'very minor' by trainer Ian Wilkes." He missed the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11 because of it, and he then placed third in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 8.
Before his injury, McCraken had finished in first place in all four of his races: the Maiden Special Weight on October 2, 2016; the Street Sense Stakes on October 30; the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 26 and the Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 11, just before his injury.
Notably, McCraken's first three races all took place at Churchill Downs, so he is particularly well-prepared for the 1 ¼-mile track there.