The dream for most horse racing fans is that the Kentucky Derby winner will go on to find success in the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes and the sport will have another Triple Crown winner.
American Pharoah broke the sport's long dry spell in 2015 when he became Horse Racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed had turned the trick in 1978.
American Pharoah earned plaudits and legendary status as a result of that win, and this year's crop of three-year-olds does not appear to have a superstar who will be able to accomplish such a magical feat.
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
Prize Money: $2 million purse, with $1.24 million going to the winner, according to SportingNews.com.
|2017 Kentucky Derby|
|1||Lookin At Lee||Corey Lanerie||Steve Asmussen||33-1|
|2||Thunder Snow||Christophe Soumillon||Saeed bin Suroor||18-1|
|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||9-2|
|6||State of Honor||Jose Lezcano||Mark Casse||33-1|
|7||Girvin||Mike Smith||Joe Sharp||16-1|
|8||Hence||Florent Geroux||Steve Asmussen||16-1|
|9||Irap||Mario Gutierrez||Doug O’Neill||18-1|
|10||Gunnevera||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano||12-1|
|11||Battle of Midway||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer||20-1|
|12||Sonneteer||Kent Desormeaux||Keith Desormeaux||40-1|
|13||J Boys Echo||Luis Saez||Dale Romans||28-1|
|14||Classic Empire||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||19-4|
|15||McCraken||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Ian Wilkes||6-1|
|16||Tapwrit||Jose Ortiz||Todd Pletcher||28-1|
|17||Irish War Cry||Rajiv Maragh||Graham Motion||6-1|
|18||Gormley||Victor Espinoza||John Shirreffs||18-1|
|19||Practical Joke||Joel Rosario||Chad Brown||25-1|
|20||Patch||Tyler Gaffalione||Todd Pletcher||33-1|
If there are any horses that appear capable of pulling off multiple victories in the Triple Crown races, Always Dreaming or Classic Empire are the most likely.
Always Dreaming is listed as the second choice in the 1 1/4-mile Run for the Roses at plus-450 according to OddsShark, which translates to the standard horse racing odds of 9-2.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, Always Dreaming has won three consecutive races going into the Derby. His most recent victory came in the Florida Derby, and that should indicate to most bettors that he is close to top form.
.@KentuckyDerby favorite Classic Empire got sassy during bath time this morning! https://t.co/PvYE13Qqm92017-5-4 14:36:21
Classic Empire figures to be Always Dreaming's top rival, and he is listed as the favorite at plus-425 (equivalent odds of 19-4). Classic Empire is a feisty sort who is normally tough in training but excellent when it comes to his performance in the races.
The colt has been known to act up from time to time when he is asked to run in a morning training session, but he is at his best when the bell rings and the starting gate swings open. Classic Empire has won five of six races throughout his lifetime, and that translates to more than $2 million in earnings.
Classic Empire had a foot abscess earlier in the year, and that's one of the primary reasons he was unable to come through in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He finished third in that February race, but trainer Mark Casse was able to help him recover, and he followed that performance with a victory in the Arkansas Derby.
There have not been any known issues since then, so it appears that Classic Empire could be close to top form.
If Always Dreaming and Classic Empire are both in outstanding condition, they could engage in a stretch battle that produces a great race.
But it's not just about being the best horses in the race. There are 20 horses in the field, and that means tactics will play a huge role.
Jockeys have to make sure their horses don't get boxed in and stuck on the rail at a crucial point in the race that prevents their horse from making a key move.
The other problem with a huge field often results when come-from-behind horses fail to stay in contact with the pack. A late runner may be able to take advantage of the tired pace setters, but if he begins his move when he is 15 lengths or more behind, it may not matter if he is at his best in the final 400 yards.
Irish War Cry should have an opportunity to put his imprint on the Kentucky Derby. He comes into the race at plus-600, which is the equivalent of 6-1 odds.
Trained by Graham Motion and ridden by Rajiv Maragh, the horse has won two of three races in its lifetime, including a victory in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, Queens, New York, in early April.
He has the pedigree to carry the distance in the race, and that could allow him to outlast some of the other contenders if he can get a decent break and stay out of the Derby traffic.
The Derby has the makings of an exciting race, but a second Triple Crown winner in three years does not seem likely.
Racing information courtesy of KentuckyDerby.com unless other wise indicated.