There are 20 top contenders in the field for the 2017 Kentucky Derby, but only one will end up with the roses at the end of the day.
Each horse entering the race has accomplished a lot to get to this point, with a few especially producing impressive results. However, none of that means anything once the starting gun goes off. A single stumble out of the gate or a poor run could push a favorite to the back of the line.
There are certain to be surprises, but here is what you need to know heading into "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports."
When: Saturday, May 6
Broadcast Start Time: 4 p.m. ET
Kentucky Derby Post Time: 6:34 p.m. ET
|2017 Kentucky Derby Field|
|1||Lookin At Lee||Steven Asmussen||Corey Lanerie||20-1|
|2||Thunder Snow||Saeed bin Suroor||Christophe Soumillon||20-1|
|3||Fast and Accurate||Michael Maker||Channing Hill||50-1|
|4||Untrapped||Steven 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||Steven Asmussen||Florent Geroux||15-1|
|9||Irap||Doug O'Neil||Mario Gutierrez||20-1|
|10||Gunnevera||Antonio Sano||Javier Castellano||15-1|
|11||Battle of Midway||Jerry Hollander||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 Jr.||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|
If you want a mild sleeper in a deep field, look no further than Gunnevera.
Although a bit overlooked compared to those who are coming off bigger wins, Gunnevera is one of the most experienced horses in the race. He has made nine starts, six of them in graded events, coming out with four wins while never finishing worse than fifth.
The colt has wins at the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes and the Fountain of Youth Stakes, plus a respectable third-place showing at the Florida Derby.
Meanwhile, the experience continues with jockey Javier Castellano. The veteran has been the Eclipse Award Outstanding Jockey for four years running, leading the sport in total earnings each year since 2013, per Equibase.
Although the top names in the race will likely pass him, Gunnevera has the talent, consistency and team around him necessary to finish in the money.
Place: Classic Empire
Favorites have been on an impressive run lately, winning the last four of these races. Per ESPN Stats & Info, this has never happened five times in a row.
While the results of past races shouldn't have an impact on what happens Saturday, Classic Empire is far from a runaway favorite in this event.
He clearly has the best resume, with wins at the Arkansas Derby, Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Breeders' Futurity Stakes, all of which were Grade 1 events. The speed is enough to ensure he finishes at least in the top three regardless of what the rest of the field does.
However, he hasn't been quite as dominant as previous favorites and lost to Irish War Cry at the Holy Bull Stakes.
In a crowded field, any mistake can cost him the race.
A race like this is primed for upsets, and McCraken has what it takes to surprise the field.
Like Classic Empire, McCraken has won all but a single race in his career, earning four wins. Three of those victories came at Churchill Downs, which should give him somewhat of a home-field advantage in the upcoming race.
Meanwhile, the one loss came at the Blue Grass Stakes, which was his first event back after dealing with an ankle injury.
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. also provided his thoughts on the third-place finish.
"All of his races prior to the Blue Grass, he always kind of just did what he wanted and beat up on horses," Hernandez explained, per Alicia Wincze Hughes of Blood Horse. "When he got beat, it kind of woke him up."
Third place in a Grade 2 race isn't too bad for a poor focused, slightly injured horse. With him healthy and at his true ability, McCraken should be a serious threat.
With the pedigree of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, McCraken could be the surprise winner of this prestigious race.