Kentucky Derby 2017 Odds: Top Picks, Updated Vegas Lines for 143rd Race

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03: Classic Empire, owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark E. Casse, with Martin Rivers aboard exercises in preparation for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 03, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Triple Crown season is finally upon us, which means it's time to ramp up preparations for the 143rd Kentucky Derby. 

And after Wednesday's post officially slotted this year's 20-horse field into its starting gates in advance of Saturday's Run For The Roses, some clarity has started to emerge regarding which competitors are in best position to take home a title in the shadow of Churchill Downs' twin spires. 

With just two days remaining until the proceedings get underway, here's a look at updated odds, courtesy of OddsShark, and a preview of 2017's top Kentucky Derby contenders. 

2017 Kentucky Derby Odds and Post Positions
PostHorseJockeyTrainerOdds
1Lookin At LeeCorey LanerieSteve Asmussen+2800
2Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin Suroor+1600
3Fast and AccurateChanning HillMike Maker+6600
4UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen+5000
5Always DreamingJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher+400
6State of HonorJose LezcanoMark Casse+4000
7GirvinMike SmithJoe Sharp+1600
8HenceFlorent GerouxSteve Asmussen+2200
9IrapMario GutierrezDoug O’Neill+2500
10GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano+1200
11Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer+2800
12SonneteerKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux+3300
13J Boys EchoLuis SaezDale Romans+3300
14Classic EmpireJulien LeparouxMark Casse+425
15McCrakenBrian Hernandez Jr.Ian Wilkes+650
16TapwritJose OrtizTodd Pletcher+2500
17Irish War CryRajiv MaraghGraham Motion+650
18GormleyVictor EspinozaJohn Shirreffs+1600
19Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad Brown+1600
20PatchTyler GaffalioneTodd Pletcher+3300
Odds Shark

Favorites, Top Picks and Trends

The Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming and Mark Casse-trained Classic Empire top the bill this year, and it's not hard to see why. 

Although Always Dreaming's resume isn't particularly lengthy, the three-year-old colt enters the Kentucky Derby with back-to-back wins in his last two starts—including a win at April's Florida Derby. All told, Always Dreaming has never finished worse than third in his four career starts. 

Then there's Classic Empire, who turned heads at April's Arkansas Derby when he burst past the field down the back stretch to take home a victory: 

To date, Classic Empire has five wins in seven starts—one of which came in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. 

However, Classic Empire may have to buck some historic trends in order for Casse to leave Churchill Downs happy.

According to OddsShark, the 14th post has produced just two Kentucky Derby winners since 1900. Conversely, the fifth post—which is home to Always Dreaming—has a Derby-best 13 champs in that span. 

Casse, though, doesn't appear fazed by the odds.  

"We couldn't be in a better place right now," he said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press' Beth Harris

Beyond those two early favorites, a pair of +650 contenders in Irish War Cry and McCraken shouldn't be overlooked when evaluating potential winners. 

Irish War Cry, in particular, deserves attention considering the three-year-old is headed into the Kentucky Derby with four wins in five starts. The most notable of those was last month's winning jaunt at the Wood Memorial, which saw the H. Graham Motion-trained colt best Battalion Runner and Cloud Computing to clinch a spot at Churchill Downs. 

That said, Irish War Cry would be the first horse since 1900 to win the race starting from the 17th post, per OddsShark. 

McCraken is in a slightly better spot since the 15th starting gate has produced five champions since 1900, but Ian Wilkes' horse will have to shake off a third-place finish at April's Blue Grass Stakes in order to break through on horse racing's biggest stage. 

Related

    Justify's Trainer Accused of Foul Play at Belmont

    Horse Racing logo
    Horse Racing

    Justify's Trainer Accused of Foul Play at Belmont

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Justify to Race Rest of Year After Winning Triple Crown

    Horse Racing logo
    Horse Racing

    Justify to Race Rest of Year After Winning Triple Crown

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    Don't Take Justify's Greatness for Granted

    Horse Racing logo
    Horse Racing

    Don't Take Justify's Greatness for Granted

    Tom Weir
    via Bleacher Report

    Justify Captures Triple Crown at Belmont 👑

    Horse Racing logo
    Horse Racing

    Justify Captures Triple Crown at Belmont 👑

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report