Ahead of Saturday's Run for the Roses, Churchill Downs will play host to the highly anticipated post draw for the 2017 Kentucky Derby on Wednesday.
While the draw doesn't necessarily make or break the chances of most horses, getting pinned to the rail or being forced to start too far outside can make things far more challenging for jockeys in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Here is all the information you need to watch the post draw, along with a closer look at some of the Kentucky Derby's top contenders.
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
When: Wednesday, May 3, at 11 a.m. ET
Top Horses to Watch
Although light on big-race experience, Always Dreaming has the makings of a major Kentucky Derby contender.
In the first stakes race of his career, Always Dreaming won the Florida Derby with relative ease April 1, which gives him no shortage of momentum heading toward the Kentucky Derby.
According to Thoroughbred Daily News, trainer Todd Pletcher had a positive outlook regarding Always Dreaming following his Florida Derby triumph:
He's excellent. It seemed like he recuperated quickly after the race, cooled out good, looked good this morning, settled back here into Palm Beach Downs and all is well. He seems to be in excellent form. I was really pleased with the way he came back to the winner's circle. It just seemed like he recovered quickly from the race and cooled out quickly and was bright and alert and happy back in his stall. Initially he's showing us all the signs you're hoping for.
There were question marks surrounding the three-year-old colt entering that race, but he seems to have left little doubt that he is the real deal.
Provided he lands a solid post position for the Kentucky Derby, he has the tools needed to be the odds-on favorite at Churchill Downs.
After overcoming a foot injury to win the Arkansas Derby, Classic Empire is in position to vie for the first jewel of the Triple Crown.
Classic Empire entered February's Holy Bull Stakes as a heavy favorite, but a foot abscess contributed to a disappointing third-place result.
He bounced back to win the Arkansas Derby on April 15, however, and trainer Mark Casse took great pride in the victory, per Alicia Wincze Hughes of BloodHorse.com:
What I feel good about is we were up front. We were telling everyone the truth of what was going on and so many people were like 'There is no way he will be ready.' But the key to it all is he's a really, really, really good horse. And really, really good horses can overcome a lot of things. And he was a gentleman yesterday.
We said all along how smart he is and now more than ever, I know what happened at Gulfstream was because of his foot because he was an entirely different horse yesterday. He never turned a hair. And there was plenty of reasons for him to turn hairs.
Provided the foot issue is entirely behind him, there is every reason to believe Classic Empire will be a threat in the Kentucky Derby.
He won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, and with arguably the best resume in the field, the talented colt is one of the top horses to beat.
Following an undefeated start to his career, McCraken faltered in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 8, as he settled for a third-place finish despite being favored to win.
It was a difficult trip for the three-year-old colt, but trainer Ian Wilkes viewed the situation as a positive, according to Mike Welsch of Daily Racing Form:
He definitely needed the race. I had a show horse, not a racehorse, that day. He was too pretty, not fit enough. He was also too anxious, too much on the bit at the beginning, and he got roughed up a bit, which is good. He needed to face some adversity. But he didn't quit on me—that's what I wanted to see.
While Wilkes seems unconcerned with McCraken's struggles in the Blue Grass Stakes, the poor run removes the aura of invincibility he once had.
If the Blue Grass Stakes performance was an aberration as Wilkes suggested, though, McCraken remains a significant threat to prevail at Churchill Downs.