Kentucky Derby Start Time 2017: Race Post Info, NBC TV Coverage and More

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 2 : Horses break from the starting gate. American Pharoah with Victor Espinoza up wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Race Track on May 2, 2015 (Photo by Horsephotos/Getty Images)
Horsephotos/Getty Images

Classic Empire, Always Dreaming, McCraken and Irish War Cry headline a highly competitive field for the 2017 Kentucky Derby. A total of 20 horses are slated to take part in the first leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday evening.

Coverage of the undercard races at Churchill Downs will begin at 12 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. The television availability will switch to NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET and continue through the day's main event, which is scheduled for just after 6:30 p.m. ET.

Let's check out all of the important details for the 143rd Run for the Roses. That's followed by a look at the complete race field and a breakdown of some horses to keep an eye on.

     

Viewing Information

Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

Post Time: Saturday, May 6 at 6:34 p.m. ET

Watch: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live

Tickets: ScoreBig.com

    

2017 Kentucky Derby Field

2017 Kentucky Derby: Horses, Jockeys, Trainers and Odds
PostHorseJockeyTrainerML OddsVegas Odds
1Lookin At LeeCorey LanerieSteve Asmussen20-1+3300
2Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin Suroor20-1+1800
3Fast and AccurateChanning HillMike Maker50-1+6600
4UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen30-1+5000
5Always DreamingJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher5-1+450
6State of HonorJose LezcanoMark Casse30-1+3300
7GirvinMike SmithJoe Sharp15-1+1600
8HenceFlorent GerouxSteve Asmussen15-1+1600
9IrapMario GutierrezDoug O’Neill20-1+1800
10GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano15-1+1200
11Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer30-1+2000
12SonneteerKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux50-1+4000
13J Boys EchoLuis SaezDale Romans20-1+2800
14Classic EmpireJulien LeparouxMark Casse4-1+425
15McCrakenBrian Hernandez Jr.Ian Wilkes5-1+600
16TapwritJose OrtizTodd Pletcher20-1+2800
17Irish War CryRajiv MaraghGraham Motion6-1+600
18GormleyVictor EspinozaJohn Shirreffs15-1+1800
19Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad Brown20-1+2500
20PatchTyler GaffalioneTodd Pletcher30-1+3300
AERoyal MoGary StevensJohn Shirreffs20-1n/a
AEMaster PlanTBATodd Pletcher50-1n/a
Morning-Line Odds via KentuckyDerby.com; Vegas Odds via OddsShark

Horses To Watch

Morning-Line Favorite: Classic Empire

Classic Empire being listed as the favorite, while not a major surprise, exemplifies the wide-open nature of this year's Derby. Just two races ago he was beaten by both Irish War Cry and Gunnevera, two of his foes once again Saturday, in the Grade II Holy Bull Stakes.

You're not going to find an American Pharoah or California Chrome in this group. At least not in terms of three-year-old racing ability. That's not necessarily a bad thing from an entertainment perspective, though. It should make for a close Derby with a thrilling finish.

While there's little doubt Classic Empire has the talent to win the Triple Crown opener, his lack of consistency is a concern ahead of his biggest race to date. His trainer, Mark Casse, told John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader he's hopeful his horse can put it all together at the perfect time.

"I've always said good horses win when everything goes their way; great horses win when nothing goes their way," Casse said. "And I think he's a great horse. But I guess we'll determine that (Saturday)."

Yes, he's the morning-line favorite and his triumph in the Arkansas Derby last month provided hope he might be peaking at the perfect time. But the lingering question marks make him a beatable favorite, especially with such a deep field set to take him on.

     

Biggest Threat: Always Dreaming

The post draw couldn't have gone much better for Always Dreaming. Along with landing in an ideal spot with the No. 5 stall—not too far inside, but still close to the rail—all of the other top contenders are bunched closely together on the outside.

That should allow jockey John Velazquez to control everything about the Florida Derby winner's trip. He can attack the rail quickly, keep tabs on the likes of Classic Empire, McCraken and Irish War Cry and decide when to make a serious push for the lead.

The only question is whether Velazquez will be able to control the colt's energy. He's been aggressive in workout sessions leading up to the Derby, and the one thing he can't afford is to break too fast and tire out before what's likely to become a crowded stretch run.

Emerald Downs track announcer Matt Dinerman discussed that boom-or-bust potential:

Where Always Dreaming stands as they start the backstretch will say a lot. If he's leading or caught in an early speed battle way ahead of the pack, he's in trouble. If he's routinely stalking the lead while riding the rail, he should be the horse to beat when they turn for home.

     

Long Shot: State of Honor

Typically, a horse whose only victory came in a Maiden Special Weight race almost seven months ago isn't even on the Derby radar. Yet State of Honor's resume is far more impressive when you consider every start rather than any single outing.

He hasn't finished worse than third in any of his last six starts. That run of strong showings includes second-place finishes to Always Dreaming in the Florida Derby and Tapwrit in the Tampa Bay Derby. He also placed third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes to McCraken and Tapwrit.

In other words, State of Honor is close. He's proved he can battle right alongside some of the top horses in the Derby field, he just hasn't been able to outrace them in the end. He'll have a chance in the often chaotic dash to the finish Saturday.

Amy Nesse of Past The Wire noted his workouts since arriving to Churchill Downs also suggest he could produce something special:

Ultimately, State Of Honor is a long shot for a reason. He's still trying to show he can beat high-end competition. But there are enough positive signs to believe he can provide immense value. If nothing else, he's worth considering for exotic wagers as the place or show finisher.