Kentucky Derby 2017: Prize Money Purse, Latest Vegas Odds Payouts and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05:  Trainer Steve Asmussen walks off the track with Looking at Lee after morning training prior to the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It's staggering to think millions of dollars up for grabs over the course of about two minutes this Saturday at Churchill Downs. 

Alas, such is the nature of "the most exciting two minutes in sports," otherwise known as the Kentucky Derby.

Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have once again analyzed all the data available and crafted betting lines for the event, leaving bettors with plenty of options ranging from surefire contender to worthwhile underdog across the 20 entries.

Below, let's take a look at all the pertinent info surrounding the event, including the odds and payouts, before highlighting a few names bettors should know.


2017 Kentucky Derby Details

Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

Post Time: Saturday, May 6, at 6:34 p.m. ET

Watch: NBC

Live StreamNBC Sports Live

Prize Money: $2 million purse, with $1.24 million going to the winner, according to Sporting News.


Kentucky Derby Entries

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerOdds
1Lookin At LeeCorey LanerieSteve Asmussen28-1
2Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin Suroor16-1
3Fast and AccurateChanning HillMike Maker66-1
4UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen50-1
5Always DreamingJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher4-1
6State of HonorJose LezcanoMark Casse40-1
7GirvinMike SmithJoe Sharp16-1
8HenceFlorent GerouxSteve Asmussen22-1
9IrapMario GutierrezDoug O’Neill25-1
10GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano12-1
11Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer28-1
12SonneteerKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux33-1
13J Boys EchoLuis SaezDale Romans33-1
14Classic EmpireJulien LeparouxMark Casse19-4
15McCrakenBrian Hernandez Jr.Ian Wilkes13-2
16TapwritJose OrtizTodd Pletcher25-1
17Irish War CryRajiv MaraghGraham Motion13-2
18GormleyVictor EspinozaJohn Shirreffs16-1
19Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad Brown16-1
20PatchTyler GaffalioneTodd Pletcher33-1


Horses to Know

Classic Empire

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04:  Classic Empire trains on track prior to the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Las Vegas likes Classic Empire for good reason.

The colt won four starts back in 2016, battled through an injury and came away with first in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby back in April. Not only is this a colt trained by Mark Casse, Julien Leparoux sits up top in the jockey position and boasts Eclipse Awards and seven triumphs in the Breeders' Cup.

While some bettors might shy away from Classic Empire because of an injury near the start of the year, it's the colt's ability to bounce back in strong form that cemented contending status, as pointed out by Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form (via

And still, off a limited workout pattern and with only one modest race in five months, Classic Empire won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 15 to cement his role as Derby favorite, a status he gained with a truly high-level win last Nov. 5 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he beat the excellent 2-year-old Not This Time by a neck.

Classic Empire's track record so far is hard to ignore. Few in the field come close when putting resumes up to a microscope, so it's not hard to see why Las Vegas favors Casse's offering.

Though the payout isn't great here, Classic Empire is a great way to provide bankroll cushion while bettors take risks on high-upside plays.



LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05:  McCraken runs on the track during morning training prior to the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Speaking of resumes, the Ian Wilkes-trained McCraken has one that holds up rather well.

McCraken doesn't boast as many Grade 1 wins as Classic Empire. Few could, but four straight wins are four straight wins, even if the best was only a Grade 2 event. Yes, McCraken's most recent event was a third-place finish, but coming off an injury, it was a gutsy showing.

Other factors make McCraken more attractive. For one, a No. 15 post is a good slot. McCraken also happens to call Churchill Downs home. Add the two factors with his racing style, and it's why some such as Brian Zipse of Horse Racing Nation suggest McCraken will win the race:

He likes to come from behind, but not so far back that traffic or fatigue will likely get in his way. Like so many Derby winners of the past, he can make his move on the turn, and be in perfect position at the head of the stretch. While much of the field will be getting winded, he should be just hitting the front, and ready to sprint home to the wire.

It'll be interesting to see how these factors around McCraken will fare against the sheer dominance of Classic Empire, to say the least.

For bettors, McCraken is a nice alternative to Classic Empire, especially given the starting position. With the sheer talent to best the field late, Wilkes' colt might throw a wrench in the Triple Crown conversation.


Irish War Cry

On paper, Irish War Cry is as good as any contender this year, provided bettors can overlook an odd seventh-place finish in the middle of his resume.

It doesn't make a ton of sense. The Graham Motion-trained colt won three races in a row, then went down at the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in seventh place before another first-place finish.

Maybe the only explanation for the hiccup was the fact the colt hardly had a month off between races. Motion himself isn't too worried about the fact no horse has ever won from the No. 17 slot, either.

"Someone's going to win from the 17 hole one day Motion said, according to Stephen Edelson of the Asbury Park Press. "I was very happy with it. I think it suits the horse, actually. It doesn't bother me at all."

No exaggeration there—Irish War Cry likes to make a late sprint, which is good news as No. 17 could allow jockey Rajiv Maragh to avoid early traffic and make a late push.

Notice a trend? All of Saturday's favorites like to take off down the stretch, meaning this year's Kentucky Derby could boast one of its most entertaining finishes in a long time. It's great news for observers, even if odds payouts hang in the balance during the thrilling sprint to the finish line.


Stats and information via unless otherwise specified. Odds courtesy of OddsShark. 


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