Kentucky Derby 2017 Odds: Picks, Dark-Horse Contenders and More

David McCrackenFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 03: McCraken, owned by Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC and trained by  Ian R. Wilkes, gets a bath after exercising in preparation for the Kentucky Derby  at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Douglas DeFelice/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Outside of Classic Empire and Always Dreaming, the list of contenders in the 2017 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is thin. 

Saturday's race promises to be an entertaining one with 20 of the world's best horses and jockeys competing for the $2 million purse. Now that post positions have been announced, the field is becoming clearer as each day passes and the odds for each horse begin to take shape.

Which horse will come out of nowhere and leave their stamp on the 143rd annual Kentucky Derby? We'll take an in-depth look into this year's crop of competitors below but first, let's take glance at the field of horses racing this Saturday with updated odds and post positions.

2017 Kentucky Derby Lineup
Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerOdds
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
Odds Shark


First Dark Horse to Know: McCraken

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  McCraken runs on the track during the morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

A strong finisher with breakaway speed, McCraken has the opportunity to play spoiler this Saturday after showing off this past week in training sessions, per Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form.

At +650 odds, McCraken is certainly on the outside looking in, but the horse has constantly been in the conversation for a top-four, possible top-three finish this weekend. Even at his best, McCraken would still need a lot of help to pull ahead of either Classic Empire or Always Dreaming.

If Classic Empire races to his potential, there isn't much hope for McCraken. Always Dreaming has been inconsistent in his practice sessions over the past few days, which could raise some alarms, and it can only benefit a horse like McCraken if Always Dreaming struggles to gallop in control. 

McCraken will begin Saturday's Derby at post position No. 5, but his jockey and trainer will hoping he translates that to finish No. 1 after the "Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" is all said and done. 


Second Dark Horse to Watch: Irish War Cry

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03: Irish War Cry gallops in preparation for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 03, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Outside of McCraken, there aren't many more horses at the Kentucky Derby getting more attention than Irish War Cry.

Entering Thursday with +650 odds, the same as McCraken, Irish War Cry is in a position to make history as he could become the first horse to ever win the Derby in post position No. 17, a statistic that his trainer Graham Motion knows all too well, via Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun.

"Someone's going to win from the 17 hole one day," Motion said. "I was very happy with it. I think it suits the horse, actually. It doesn't bother me at all."

Whether Irish War Cry can actually pull off the victory is yet to be seen, but according to reports from his practice sessions in the lead up to the Derby, he might have a puncher's chance.


Picking the Top Three

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03: Classic empire weaves his way through a crowd of fans on his way to the track at Churchill Downs on May 03, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Barring a major upset, the winner of the Derby will be Classic Empire. Last year's Kentucky Derby was a lot easier to predict, as Nyquist was, by a large margin, the best horse in the field and showed it when it mattered most. 

This year, however, there is uncertainty as to which horse will cross the finish line first. Sure, the mounting anticipation of a very competitive race is much more exciting than the prospect of a predictable outcome, but picking against Classic Empire is foolish.

Always Dreaming may have the best odds and the better post position heading into the race, but he hasn't looked like a top-five horse all week. Look for Always Dreaming to fall by the wayside as McCraken and Irish War Cry round out the top three in what looks to be one of the more competitive horse races you'll see all year. 

1) Classic Empire

2) McCraken

3) Irish War Cry