Among the many accolades that come with being a Kentucky Derby champion, money and fame are two of the biggest for the winning jockey and owner to enjoy.
The winning horse also gets the notoriety of winning the most prestigious race in the world, and the value of sending it out to stud increases exponentially.
This year's field of horses doesn't include one single overwhelming favorite, like American Pharoah in 2015, but it has the potential to make one new superstar.
Looking at the 2017 Kentucky Derby, here is what's at stake for the jockeys and owners at Churchill Downs.
|Projected 2017 Kentucky Derby Purse|
|Total Guaranteed Purse||1st Place||2nd Place||3rd Place||4th Place||5th Place|
|2017 Kentucky Derby Prediction|
|Winner||Gunnevera||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano||12-1|
|Runner-Up||Always Dreaming||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||4-1|
|3rd Place||McCraken||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Ian Wilkes||13-2|
|Adam Wells' Prediction, Odds via OddsShark.com|
Gunnevera's stock dropped after finishing third at the Florida Derby, behind Kentucky Derby betting favorite Always Dreaming and runner-up State of Honor.
Prior to that slip up, Gunnevera was on a roll with victories at the Delta Downs Jackpot and Fountain of Youth, along with a second-place finish at the Holy Bull, one spot ahead of another Kentucky Derby favorite Classic Empire.
Despite that brief slip up in Florida, Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post highlighted some of the reasons why Gunnevera will rebound on Saturday:
"Gunnevera overcame a bad post and speed-favoring track in his third-place Florida Derby finish, running the final three-eighths of a mile in 36.59 seconds, the third-fastest time among the Derby field. He is also an off-the-pace runner who fits the mold of prior winners in the last decade — since 2010, only Orb (2013) was more than five lengths back at the mile mark."
The pace at the Kentucky Derby is going to be worth keeping a close eye on because weather conditions in Louisville don't look favorable.
Rain has been in the forecast each of the past two days, and Weather.com calls for a 70 percent chance of showers in the morning. It's going to be soggy and muddy at Churchill Downs, likely leading to a slower-than-normal pace.
That adds a different dimension to the entire race, making it more difficult than normal to predict. Gunnevera has the unique running style that will allow him to adapt to the conditions on the track.
Always Dreaming has become a rising star in the sport, getting the best odds to win the Kentucky Derby despite having just one stakes race under his belt. He did make the most of that race, defeating heavy hitters like Gunnevera, but there's still an air of mystery around the horse.
Matt Dinerman of Emerald Downs summed up Always Dreaming's likely outcomes on Saturday:
Matt Dinerman @3coltshandicap
Always Dreaming: he'll either run big or finish 14th. That's OK. I'm going for the gold: he's my pick to win The Derby!2017-5-3 23:25:49
The key difference between the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby will be speed on the track. Greenberg noted Florida favors pure-speed horses, which doesn't figure to be the case in this race.
There are enough reasons to be optimistic that Always Dreaming can put together another strong run to place high on the leaderboard at the Kentucky Derby, but it won't be quite enough to get him the title.
Gunnevera would have been the odds-on-favorite to win the Kentucky Derby with a stronger showing in Florida. He's capable of adapting to the poor weather in Louisville this weekend and will get the ultimate redemption with a win on Saturday.