Classic Empire and Always Dreaming lead the betting ahead of Wednesday's draw for the post positions for the 2017 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Though it is a completely random draw, a horse's position in the starting gate can have a major effect on their chances in the storied race.
As noted by Christina Moore of America's Best Racing, a position on the extreme inside or outside can prove a major disadvantage, so being drawn in the middle of the pack is often preferable.
Read on for full details for Wednesday's draw, along with the latest odds and predictions for Saturday's race.
2017 Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw
Date: Wednesday, May 4
Time: 11 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. BST
2017 Kentucky Derby Odds
|Irish War Cry||13-2|
|Lookin At Lee||28-1|
|Battle of Midway||28-1|
|J Boys Echo||33-1|
|State Of Honor||40-1|
|Fast and Accurate||66-1|
According to Moore, recent runnings of the Kentucky Derby have increasingly been won by horses in the outside posts.
Since the turn of the millennium, nine of the 17 winners of the Run for the Roses have come out of gate 13 or higher.
There has not been a winner from position one, two or three since 1998, while gate 17 holds the ignominious honour of having never produced a champion.
The stats seem to show then that being drawn in the outer third could be an advantage, unless it's in gate 17.
However, records are there to be broken, and should one of the favourites be drawn in an unfavourable gate, that does not rule them out of the running.
Classic Empire has been fancied for some time in the buildup to Saturday's race despite suspect form earlier this year, as discussed below:
He is likely to go off the favourite and would extend a remarkable run if he were to triumph.
Per OddsShark's Mike Dempsey, each of the last four winners have started as favourite for the 10-furlong race—Orb in 2013 preceded California Chrome, American Pharoah and then Nyquist last year.
But a stretch of five consecutive favourites going on to win has not been achieved since 1895.
As a result, there will likely be many who decide not to go with the favourite for the 2017 running and instead look elsewhere on the racecard.
Always Dreaming, as the likely second favourite, could be the horse to back instead. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt has won both races he has entered in 2017, most recently impressing hugely at the Florida Derby in April.
After some early issues in preparations for the Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming has also looked much better as race day draws closer, per Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch:
McCraken is another horse in with a terrific chance of victory at the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.
As with every runner, a favourable draw position could be a huge help to the Ian Wilkes-trained colt, but he also has the pedigree, ability and form know-how to prevail.
McCraken was third to Irap and Practical Joke in his last outing at the Blue Grass Stakes but was previously unbeaten in four starts, three of his wins coming, perhaps crucially, at Churchill Downs.
Predictions: McCraken to win. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming to finish outside the top three.