Kentucky Derby Picks 2017: Predictions and Odds for All Horses Before 143rd Race

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistMay 6, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  Irish War Cry runs on the track during the morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Kentucky Derby post-position draw didn't provide much clarity for a cloudy field lacking a runaway favorite. 

According to OddsShark, Classic Empire remains a small favorite as of Friday morning despite receiving the No. 14 spot. The owners of two other top contenders each sporting 6-1 odds, McCraken and Irish War Cry, likely didn't jump for joy after drawing No. 15 and 17, respectively.

Leading up to the 143rd Run for the Roses, Wednesday's reveal bodes best for Always Dreaming. On the heels of two impressive victories, the colt will start from a No. 5 slot, which has already produced 13 victors. As a result, he's the new favorite based on the KentuckyDerby.com moneylines.

Will that boost lead him to victory? Let's look at the updated odds before predicting Saturday's top-three finishers at Churchill Downs.

2017 Kentucky Derby Field and Odds
1Lookin At LeeSteven AsmussenCorey Lanerie25-1
2Thunder SnowSaeed bin SuroorChristophe Soumillon17-1
3Fast and AccurateMichael MakerChanning Hill33-1
4UntrappedSteven AsmussenRicardo Santana Jr.58-1
5Always DreamingTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez9-4
6State of HonorMark CasseJose Lezcano46-1
7GirvinJoe SharpMike Smith21-1
8HenceSteven AsmussenFlorent Geroux17-1
9IrapDoug O'NeilMario Gutierrez35-1
10GunneveraAntonio SanoJavier Castellano9-1
11Battle of MidwayJerry HollendorferFlavien Prat37-1
12SonneteerKeith DesormeauxKent Desormeaux36-1
13J Boys EchoDale RomansLuis Saez43-1
14Classic EmpireMark CasseJulien Leparoux7-1
15McCrakenIan WilkesBrian Hernandez Jr.6-1
16TapwritTodd PletcherJose Ortiz29-1
17Irish War CryGraham MotionRajiv Maragh5-1
18GormleyJohn ShirreffsVictor Espinoza23-1
19Practical JokeChad BrownJoel Rosario32-1
20PatchTodd PletcherTyler Gaffalione13-1


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Win: Irish War Cry

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03: Irish War Cry, owned by Isabelle de Tomaso and trained by H. Graham Motion, exercises in preparation for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 03, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Every post position except No. 17 has drawn a winner. That changes this weekend, when Irish War Cry ends the drought on a possibly muddy course.

A month after finishing seventh at the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, Isabelle de Tomaso's horse recovered to emphatically win the Wood Memorial on April 8. 

Trainer Graham Motion, who guided Animal Kingdom to a 2011 Derby upset, didn't mince words regarding his horse's lone blemish to USA Today's Dan Wolken.

"I try to wipe it out of my mind," Motion said. "It was a disaster. It very clearly stands out. It was a debacle. Hopefully it will never happen again."

The New Jersey-bred contender earned rave reviews from Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch, who said Irish War Cry will likely receive more backers following Thursday's "picture-perfect training session."

"Unlike a couple of days earlier, when he was a bit headstrong and rank while galloping, Irish War Cry was relaxed and happy, moving effortlessly over the track and looking a picture of health, galloping approximately 1 3/4 miles after the renovation break," Welsch wrote.

His colleague, David Grening, offered a similar sentiment on Twitter:

David Grening @DRFGrening

Irish War Cry, who I believe will be favored come post time, looked fantastic galloping this morning.

With no safe favorite on the card, Irish War Cry has the breakaway speed necessary to overcome an unlucky starting gate.


Place: Always Dreaming

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - APRIL 01:  Always Dreaming #4 (FL) with jockey John Velazquez on board, wins the Xpressbet Florida Derby (Grade I) at Gulfstream Park on April 01, 2017 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. (Photo by Liz Lamont/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Imag
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

The favorites have recently flourished at Churchill Downs, but Always Dreaming is no California Chrome or Nyquist. He comes with enough uncertainty to instead predict a second-place finish.

The son of 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister won both of his two races after breaking his maiden in late January. His April 1 graded stakes debut was no joke, as he cruised past Derby competitors Gunnevera and State of Honor to seize the Florida Derby crown.

There's also the impeccable team of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velasquez preparing him for the 10-furlong race. As a result, plenty of bettors will flock to Always Dreaming following the favorable post position. 

His aggressiveness, however, should cause some concern. Pletcher has run the antsy colt in draw reins all week, which initially yielded shaky results.

Following a rough Monday practice, Grening reported a better run on Tuesday:

David Grening @DRFGrening

Always Dreaming much better today galloping in draw reins. Maybe got antsy for two strides during 1 1-4-mile gallop. Otherwise perfect.

Nevertheless, how will Always Dreaming handle a 20-horse field on a potentially muddy course? He remains this high as the most feasibly Triple Crown candidate, but there's also a low floor to beware.


Show: McCraken

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

McCraken hopes to follow American Pharoah's hoofs by winning the Kentucky Derby with a misspelled name from the No. 15 post. Having won all three races at Churchill Downs last year, the Kentucky native also has a home-field advantage.

The New York Times' Joe Drape called him this year's "buzz horse" who has "worked like a machine here in the mornings." Yet he didn't pick the four-time winner for a top-three finish.

He was unbeaten before placing third at the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, but most favorites enter Churchill Downs with a recent victory on the ledger. Nevertheless, McCraken gets the recognition here with the potential for an even better result.

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