Kentucky Derby 2017 Contenders: Horse Pedigree and Jockey Info for Top Favorites

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2017

Classic Empire has won five of seven lifetime races.
Classic Empire has won five of seven lifetime races.Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

The first Saturday in May means that the most exciting two minutes in sports is at hand. 

Horse racing may no longer be a dominant sport the way it was in the first half of the 20th century, but the Triple Crown racesand the Kentucky Derby, particularlycan still command the attention of the American sports fan in the 21st century.

The Derby is usually a wide-open race as a full field of 20 horses regularly goes to the post. That is again the case this year, and this race could once more belong to a long shot at the end of the 1 ¼-mile test.

However, the horses that will have the shortest odds are all strong and may not necessarily yield to one of the long shots.

Classic Empire is the favorite in the race, according to OddsShark. The website lists Classic Empire as a 4-1 shot (plus-400).

Classic Empire is trained by Mark E. Casse and is scheduled to be ridden by jockey Julian Leparoux; he has five wins and a third-place finish in his seven career starts.

He likes to run near the front and stalk the pace, and that's a style that can be quite successful in the Run for the Roses. Classic Empire won his last start in the Arkansas Derby, running all-out and winning by a half-length.

Classic Empire was sired by Pioneer of the Nile, and his dam was  Sambuca Classica.

Always Dreaming comes into the Derby having won three races in a row, including the 1 -mile Florida Derby which was contested April 1. The 5-1 shot is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John R. Velasquez.

In his victory at Gulfstream Park, Always Dreaming raced outside the leader for much of the race, and when Velasquez asked him to turn on his speed, he pulled away and won by five lengths.

2017 Kentucky Derby
GirvinJoe SharpMike E. SmithCatch the Moon by Tale of Ekati
Classic EmpireMark E. CasseJulien. R LeparouxSambuca Classica by Pioneer of the Nile
GormleyJohn A. ShirreffsJose L. EspinozaRace to Urga by Malibu Moon
IrapDoug F. O'NeilMario GutierrezSilken Cat by Tiznow
Irish War CryH. Graham MotionRajiv MaraghIrish Sovereign by Curlin
Thunder Snow (IRE)Saeed bin SuroorChristophe SoumillonEastern Joy by Helmet
Always DreamingTodd A. PletcherJohn R. VelazquezAbove Perfection by Bodemeister
GunneveraAntonio SanoJavier CastellanoUnbridled Rage by Dialed In
Practical JokeChad C. BrownJoel RosarioHalo Humor by Into Mischief
J Boys EchoDale L. RomansRobby AlbaradoLetgomyecho by Mineshaft
State of HonorMark E. CasseJose LezcanoState Cup by To Honor and Serve
TapwritTodd A. PletcherJose L. OrtizAppealing Zophie by Tapit
HenceSteven M. AsmussenFlorent GerouxConsequential by Mr. Prospector
Fast and AccurateMichael J. MakerChanning HillIt's Heidi's Dance by Hansen
McCrakenIan R. WilkesBrian Joseph Hernandez Jr.Change Water by Pretense
Battle of MidwayJerry HollendorferFlavien PratPolly Lee by Midway Circle
PatchTodd A. PletcherTyler GaffalioneWindyindy by Union Rags
UntrappedSteven M. AsmussenRicardo Santana, Jr.Exit Three by Trappe Shot
Lookin at LeeSteven M. AsmussenCorey J. LanerieLangara Lass by Lookin at Lucky
SonneteerJ. Keith DesormeauxKent J. DesormeauxGay Sonnet by Soy Numero Uno;

Always Dreaming was sired by Bodemister, and Above Perfection was his dam.

Irish War Cry looks like a legitimate contender at Churchill Downs, and he may be the best horse in the race. He comes into the Kentucky Derby with odds of 8-1.

Irish War Cry has won two of his three races this year, whipping a field that included Classic Empire and Gunnevera in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 4.

After a poor showing a month later in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, he returned to winning form at the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York on April 8.

Irish War Cry is out of Irish Sovereign by Curlin, and he has the kind of running ability that should allow him to be a factor if he is close when the field turns for home. He is trained by H. Graham Motion and ridden by Rajiv Maragh.

Gunnevera comes into the Kentucky Derby with odds of 10-1 at this point in the week, and he has a couple of victories to his credit, including a win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Trained by Antonio Sano and ridden by Javier Castellano, Gunnevera was sired by Dialed In, and that horse was one of last year's leading sires.

Girvin is listed at 20-1 by OddsShark, but he could be one of the race favorites as the week progresses. He is trained by Joe Sharp and ridden by Mike E. Smith. Girvin is out of Catch the Moon by Tale of Ekati.

Girvin has won three of four races, but there are doubts about his ability to run 1 ¼ miles as a result of his blood lines.


All information from unless otherwise noted.


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