Kentucky Derby 2017 Post Positions: Triple Crown Odds and Predictions for Field

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2017

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - APRIL 01:  Always Dreaming #4 (FL) with jockey John Velazquez on board, wins the Xpressbet Florida Derby (Grade I) at Gulfstream Park on April 01, 2017 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. (Photo by Liz Lamont/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

It still seems odd to say—Saturday at Churchill Downs, 20 colts will look to become the next American Pharoah. 

Up until two years ago, the above sentence swapped out the impressive Bob Baffert-trained colt for Affirmed, the only Triple Crown winner dating back to 1978.

But American Pharoah pulled off the feat in 2015 after a tease at the accomplishment put on the year prior by California Chrome. Now the sporting world seeks another colt capable of pulling off one of the most difficult accomplishments ever, perhaps more so now that they've had a recent taste compared to the complacency of the lengthy drought.

Can this year's field supply the globe another sought-after winner? Hard to say, but Saturday's event features some interesting favorites ready to make a run at history.

           

2017 Kentucky Derby Details

Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

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

Watch: NBC

Live StreamNBC Sports Live

TicketsScoreBig.com

Prize Money: $2 million purse, with $1.24 million going to the winner, according to Sporting News.

            

Kentucky Derby Entries

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerOddsPredicted Finish
1Lookin At LeeCorey LanerieSteve Asmussen33-116
2Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin Suroor18-113
3Fast and AccurateChanning HillMike Maker66-117
4UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen50-112
5Always DreamingJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher9-22
6State of HonorJose LezcanoMark Casse33-111
7GirvinMike SmithJoe Sharp16-110
8HenceFlorent GerouxSteve Asmussen16-114
9IrapMario GutierrezDoug O’Neill18-115
10GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano12-15
11Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer20-119
12SonneteerKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux40-120
13J Boys EchoLuis SaezDale Romans28-19
14Classic EmpireJulien LeparouxMark Casse19-41
15McCrakenBrian Hernandez Jr.Ian Wilkes6-16
16TapwritJose OrtizTodd Pletcher28-17
17Irish War CryRajiv MaraghGraham Motion6-14
18GormleyVictor EspinozaJohn Shirreffs18-13
19Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad Brown25-18
20PatchTyler GaffalioneTodd Pletcher33-118
OddsShark.com

          

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 02: Always Dreaming come soff the track after exercising during Kentucky Derby and Oaks preparations at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Based on the odds above, readers can see two favorites have pulled away from the field. 

It's not hard to see why.

Classic Empire, trained by Mark Casse, looks like the most dominant colt in the proceedings. No other tandem boasts a resume capable of matching Classic Empire's Grade 1 triumphs. The proverbial icing on the cake was bouncing back from injury to take the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

The other big shot on Saturday is Todd Pletcher's Always Dreaming. Analysis could end there given the name of the trainer, but it's important to point out the colt took down the Grade 1 Florida Derby—usually a good indicator of success at Churchill Downs—and runs out of the fifth post, which has produced 13 winners.

As one could come to expect based on the above, Classic Empire and Always Dreaming headline the pre-Derby Triple Crown odds.

Here is a look at the full list ahead of the Kentucky Derby, according to Chris White of the Courier-Journal:

HorseOdds
Lookin At Lee60-1
Thunder Snow100-1
Fast and Accurate400-1
Untrapped200-1
Always Dreaming16-1
State of Honor250-1
Girvin60-1
Hence60-1
Irap100-1
Gunnevera40-1
Battle of Midway100-1
Sonneteer200-1
J Boys Echo60-1
Classic Empire12-1
McCraken20-1
Tapwrit80-1
Irish War Cry20-1
Gormley60-1
Practical Joke80-1
Patch150-1
Courier-Journal.com.

Favorites aside, there are other interesting options to keep an eye on ahead of the sprint.

Gormley is a good example. The colt has a decent payout in Saturday's event and a notable one for the Triple Crown outlook—and ignoring it would be unwise. After all, three-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza will sit up top. Remember, he's the guy who directed both California Chrome and American Pharoah, and he sounds rather confident going into Saturday.

"If I can get him in a good position, he can do what I know he can do," Espinoza said, according to Steve Andersen of Daily Racing Form (via ESPN.com). "I want to put him in the right direction. I like the way he's going. He's a happy horse."

Speaking of top jockeys, don't ignore Javier Castellano, arguably the best in the sport right now. His colt, Gunnevera, has surprisingly strong odds Saturday out of the 10th post, which has produced as many winners, and his Triple Crown odds aren't too shabby either.

Perhaps most notable is the fact Castellano made a point to hand pick Gunnevera this year.

"He told me that he wanted to ride this horse," Gunnevera's trainer Antonio Sano said, according to the Associated Press' Tim Reynolds (via Ohio.com). "He called me and said that. That meant very much."

Triple Crown talk will pick up in a big way starting Saturday afternoon as soon as the event spits out a winner. It always seems a little premature, especially in a day and age where owners and trainers hold out horses until the second or third leg of the Triple Crown in an effort to win those events specifically.

The Triple Crown, as a result, is harder to accomplish than ever. But oddsmakers out of Las Vegas clearly haven't shied away from some of the top names this year, nor do some other notable payout lines look impossible.

Generally speaking, favorites have ruled the day over the past few years, hence the projections in the table above. But given the parity and spread of trainer, jockey and sheer colt talent throughout the table, it's clear Saturday will be entertaining no matter who takes the win, setting off a frenzy in the process.

        

Stats and information via KentuckyDerby.com unless otherwise specified. Odds courtesy of OddsShark.

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