Kentucky Derby Entries 2017: Race-Day Predictions for Horses, Jockeys in Lineup

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Classic Empire trains on track before the143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There are few more tradition-packed events in all of sports than the Kentucky Derby, and the winning horse and jockey will etch their names in horse racing history Saturday at the 143rd running.

The story goes beyond just the racing at fabled Churchill Downs thanks to the mint juleps, Garland of Roses and singing of "My Old Kentucky Home," but a deep field of 20 contenders promises to make the race a memorable one.

With that in mind, here is a look at the predicted finish for every horse and jockey in the field.

Predicted Order of Finish for Entire Field
PostHorseJockeyPredicted Finish
1Lookin at LeeCorey Lanerie18
2Thunder SnowChristophe Soumillon5
3Fast and AccurateChanning Hill20
4UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.19
5Always DreamingJohn Velazquez2
6State of HonorJose Lezcano14
7GirvinMike Smith6
8HenceFlorent Geroux11
9IrapMario Gutierrez12
10GunneveraJavier Castellano7
11Battle of MidwayFlavien Prat15
12SonneteerKent Desormeaux17
13J Boys EchoLuis Saez16
14Classic EmpireJulien Leparoux1
15McCrakenBrian Hernandez Jr.3
16TapwritJose Ortiz8
17Irish War CryRajiv Maragh4
18GormleyVictor Espinoza9
19Practical JokeJoel Rosario10
20PatchTyler Gaffalione13

             

Predicted Winner: Classic Empire

The name American Pharoah rings a bell with even the most casual of horse racing fans. He captured the Triple Crown in 2015, starting with a Kentucky Derby win over Dortmund and others at Churchill Downs.

American Pharoah isn't in this year's field, but the eventual victor shares a pedigree with the legend.

Classic Empire's sire is Pioneerof the Nile, who was also American Pharoah's sire. That doesn't necessarily mean Classic Empire is going to capture the fascination of the sporting world in the same way American Pharoah did a couple of years ago, but there is potential dominance in his blood.

There were doubts about Classic Empire after a third-place finish at the Holy Bull Stakes and health issues, but he answered them in commanding fashion with a win at the Arkansas Derby to clinch a spot in this year's field at Churchill Downs.

Considering the Kentucky Derby is a similar 1 1/4 miles to the Arkansas Derby's 1 1/8 miles, he also demonstrated a blueprint to victory for Saturday's race. He charged from the outside down the stretch to capture the win and will be in similar position at the Kentucky Derby from the No. 14 post.

His trainer Mark Casse likes where the team is at following a bumpy road to reach Churchill Downs, per the Democrat-Gazette (h/t Arkansas Online), "It's been a crazy road, but we're right where we want to be. ... Because everybody was counting him out, but he was long from done."

The sheer fact Classic Empire is starting from the No. 14 position puts him in an ideal place to win, because he doesn't have to worry about expending too much energy out of the gates to avoid being trapped on the inside.

He can then size up the rest of the field from an outside middle spot early in the race and then tap into the speed he demonstrated at the Arkansas Derby on the finishing kick.

The result will be the first step toward a potential Triple Crown and spot in history alongside American Pharoah.

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