The Kentucky Derby has been won by the favourite in each of the last four years.
The Run for the Roses has not produced anything resembling a shock winner since 2012, when 15-1 shot I'll Have Another prevailed at Churchill Downs, a year on from Animal Kingdom winning at 20-1.
Classic Empire leads the betting for Saturday's 2017 Kentucky Derby, and the 4-1 favourite will start from Gate 14, a favourable post given the recent trend of winners coming largely from the outside, per Christina Moore of America's Best Racing
The Mark Casse-trained colt's closest challenger, according to the betting, is Always Dreaming (9-2), and he will be coming out of Gate 5, which produced 2014 winner California Chrome.
Here are the latest odds in full, courtesy of OddsShark:
|Kentucky Derby 2017 Odds|
|Irish War Cry||6-1|
|Battle of Midway||20-1|
|J. Boys Echo||28-1|
|State of Honor||33-1|
|Looking at Lee||33-1|
|Fast and Accurate||66-1|
Classic Empire is far from a guarantee. Though long-fancied since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November, the three-year-old disappointed as he came third in the Holy Bull Stakes in February and looked in poor shape.
He recovered to impress as he won the Arkansas Derby last month and will be tricky to beat over 10 furlongs on Saturday.
However, it is definitely doable, and one horse who has already seen off Classic Empire in 2017 is Irish War Cry, the Holy Bull winner—12-1 Derby shot Gunnevera was second in that race.
Joint-third favourite with the well-fancied McCraken, Irish War Cry has received rave reviews from many in the run up to the 143rd Kentucky Derby.
Superstitious types will be nervous about his post position as no horse has ever triumphed coming out of gate 17.
However, as noted by Daily Racing Form's Mike Watchmaker, that is no reason not to back the Graham Motion-trained horse, who will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh and has won four of five career races:
Mike Watchmaker @DRFWatchmaker
I’m picking Irish War Cry. I’m not concerned post 17 is 0 for 38. Post 16 is 4 for 45, post 15 is 5 for 55, so it’s a statistical anomaly.2017-5-3 16:17:44
Always Dreaming has an impressive team behind him. Jockeyed by the exemplary John Velazquez—who won the Derby aboard Animal Kingdom—the Florida Derby winner is the best of trainer Todd Pletcher's three horses in this year's race at Churchill Downs.
Pletcher was not completely satisfied with Always Dreaming's post draw on Wednesday, per racing writer J.J. Hysell:
J.J. Hysell @trifectabox
Pletcher on Always Dreaming's post: "Ideally, I’d have liked to have been a little farther out, but he won the Florida Derby from the four"2017-5-3 19:14:30
But he avoided the extreme inside—no Derby winner has come from Gate 1, 2 or 3 this century—and has every chance of beating out Classic Empire and the rest on Saturday.