Kentucky Derby 2017 Post Positions: Updated Picks and Predictions After Draw

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2017

Kentucky Derby hopeful Always Dreaming works out under jockey John Velazquez at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Friday, April 28, 2017. Always Dreaming is one of five colts eyeing the May 6th horse race from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)
Garry Jones/Associated Press

The 143rd running of the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby, is set to take place on Saturday, and now we know the 20 horses in the field and their post positions following Wednesday's draw. 

Certain post positions have produced more Kentucky Derby winners than others.

For example, this year's favorite contender, Always Dreaming, earned position No. 5, which has "historically performed the best as horses starting from that gate have won the race 13 times since 1900," according to Joe Osborne of OddsShark

Therefore, the Vegas oddsmakers, who were already high on Always Dreaming, now have even more reason to make him the favorite. 

Let's take a look at the post positions for each horse in this year's field and make some updated picks and predictions ahead of Saturday's race. 

1Lookin at LeeSteve AsmussenCorey Lanerie20-1
2Thunder SnowSaeed bin SuroorChristophe Soumillon20-1
3Fast and AccurateMike MakerChanning Hill50-1
4UntrappedSteve AsmussenRicardo Santana Jr.30-1
5Always DreamingTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez5-1
6State of HonorMark CasseJose Lezcano30-1
7GirvinJoe SharpMike Smith15-1
8HenceSteve AsmussenFlorent Geroux15-1
9IrapDoug O'NeillMario Gutierrez20-1
10GunneveraAntonio SanoJavier Castellano15-1
11Battle of MidwayJerry HollendorferFlavien Prat30-1
12SonneteerKeith DesormeauxKent Desormeaux50-1
13J Boys EchoDale RomansLuis Saez20-1
14Classic EmpireMark CasseJulien Leparoux4-1
15McCrakenIan WilkesBrian Hernandez5-1
16TapwritTodd PletcherJose Ortiz20-1
17Irish War CryGraham MotionRajiv Maragh6-1
18GormleyJohn ShirreffsVictor Espinoza15-1
19Practical JokeChad BrownJoel Rosario20-1
20PatchTodd PletcherTyler Gaffalione30-1

Updated Picks and Predictions

First Place: Always Dreaming

Always Dreaming is the clear favorite in this year's Kentucky Derby odds, and his post position draw on Wednesday only made him more favorable. 

Heading into the draw, Always Dreaming was favored in part because he won the Florida Derby by five lengths. 

According to OddShark's Mike Dempsey, the Florida Derby is a solid historical predictor of the Kentucky Derby winner; "over the past 15 years the Florida Derby has been the most productive with four Derby winners."

But now that trainer Todd A. Pletcher's colt has earned the No. 5 position, he has even more reason to be favored to place first at Churchill Downs, as the position has produced 13 winners, as Osborne noted.

Pletcher has three horses in this year's field, so his chances of coming away with a winner on Saturday are already pretty high. But given that he trains Always Dreamingfar and away the favorite this weekendhe just may leave with a rose garland.

Second Place: Gormley

Always Dreaming may be the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, but if there's a horse who can challenge him right up until the end, it might be Gormley.

In recent history, Kentucky Derby winners have also won their final prep. Per Dempsey, "the last six Derby winners all won their final prep. The last not to do so was Super Saver in 2010, who lost the Arkansas Derby by a neck."

Gormley is coming off a triumphant win in the Santa Anita Derby—the most highly anticipated Kentucky Derby qualifier each yearholding off Battle of Midway and Royal Mo. 

The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby will be a long race for Gormley, whose speed has been better-suited to his previous races such as the 1 -mile Santa Anita Derby and the one-mile Sham Stakes. 

"Gormley has raced predominantly on the speedthe one ace where he didn't was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, his only failurebut his pedigree suggests that he has good prospects of staying the Derby trip of 1 ¼ miles," according to the official Kentucky Derby website

Third Place: McCraken

McCraken is also a high favorite in the Vegas odds for this year's Derby, but he comes third in these predictions due to an ankle injury suffered in training on February 28.

According to the Derby's official site, the injury was "described as 'very minor' by trainer Ian Wilkes." He missed the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11 because of it, and he then placed third in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 8.

Before his injury, McCraken had finished in first place in all four of his races: the Maiden Special Weight on October 2, 2016; the Street Sense Stakes on October 30; the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 26 and the Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 11, just before his injury. 

Notably, McCraken's first three races all took place at Churchill Downs, so he is particularly well-prepared for the 1 ¼-mile track there. 


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