Hours separate the globe from the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
The 20-colt showcase at Churchill Downs might as well be a national holiday alongside the Super Bowl or bracket reveal—millions of dollars change hands, the hunt for a Triple Crown winner begins and the popularity of the sport continues to grow by the year.
This stampede of some of the globe's most impressive horses, not to mention legendary trainers and jockeys, makes for a thrilling event highlighted by the prep onlookers put into the event.
Whether looking to simply take in the sprint or try to increase a bankroll via odds out of Las Vegas, the following has notable information surrounding the event.
2017 Kentucky Derby Details
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Post Time: Saturday, May 6, at 6:34 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
Prize Money: $2 million purse, with $1.24 million going to the winner, according to Sporting News.
Kentucky Derby Entries
|1||Lookin At Lee||Corey Lanerie||Steve Asmussen||33-1|
|2||Thunder Snow||Christophe Soumillon||Saeed bin Suroor||18-1|
|3||Fast and Accurate||Channing Hill||Mike Maker||66-1|
|4||Untrapped||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||50-1|
|5||Always Dreaming||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||9-2|
|6||State of Honor||Jose Lezcano||Mark Casse||33-1|
|7||Girvin||Mike Smith||Joe Sharp||16-1|
|8||Hence||Florent Geroux||Steve Asmussen||16-1|
|9||Irap||Mario Gutierrez||Doug O’Neill||18-1|
|10||Gunnevera||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano||12-1|
|11||Battle of Midway||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer||20-1|
|12||Sonneteer||Kent Desormeaux||Keith Desormeaux||40-1|
|13||J Boys Echo||Luis Saez||Dale Romans||28-1|
|14||Classic Empire||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||19-4|
|15||McCraken||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Ian Wilkes||6-1|
|16||Tapwrit||Jose Ortiz||Todd Pletcher||28-1|
|17||Irish War Cry||Rajiv Maragh||Graham Motion||6-1|
|18||Gormley||Victor Espinoza||John Shirreffs||18-1|
|19||Practical Joke||Joel Rosario||Chad Brown||25-1|
|20||Patch||Tyler Gaffalione||Todd Pletcher||33-1|
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Viewers can get a good idea of the important horses to watch Saturday based on the odds above.
But those same odds also give bettors a good idea as to how they should bet.
It doesn't make the race boring by any means, but the favorites have recently been the best way for bettors to go. With dominant marches by names such as California Chrome and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah as of late, payouts haven't exactly been huge with underdogs failing to put up a serious fight.
In fact, this year feels like it could be a turning point for the event. As Rob McCurdy of the Marion Star documented, favorites have downright dominated the event over the past four years, creating small payouts. But he doesn't see the trend continuing.
"With a field as diverse and robust as 20 young and lightly raced colts stampeding around the track, it defies logic that the top four or five horses will again fill out the tickets. Somebody's got to upset the chalks and drive the price of the winning tickets back to Derby payouts of yore," McCurdy wrote.
But it's interesting because another line of thinking seems just as plausible—oddsmakers have more access to information about contestants and real-time updates than ever before. And this means bettors have the same.
For instance, we know the Mark Casse-trained Classic Empire is a favorite to bank on given the colt's impressive resume, including a bounce-back win at the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby after an injury.
We know the Ian Wilkes-trained McCraken calls Churchill Downs home and boasts four wins on the resume. We also know the Graham Motion-trained Irish War Cry has jockey Rajiv Maragh up top and runs from the 17th post, the perfect spot for its skill set.
It doesn't stop with favorites, either. Gunnevera has notable jockey Javier Castellano up top and has nine races on the resume. Todd Pletcher's Tapwrit won the Tampa Bay Derby. American Pharoah jockey Victor Espinoza is atop Gormley. Legendary jockey Joel Rosario rides Practical Joke. Always Dreaming is Todd Pletcher's best shot at a win.
These days, we even have access to updated weather info. Kevin Byrne of AccuWeather.com spoke with Brian Thompson, who said rain clouds on Saturday aren't anything to worry about from a race standpoint: "While rain gear will be a good idea, [the race] does not look like a washout, and rainfall amounts should be not be all that heavy."
Where does this access to pertinent advanced info stop? It doesn't—we even have historical data detailing the importance of each post position dating back to 1900. Lookin At Lee sits in the first post, which has won 12 times. Untrapped is fourth, which has won 11 times. Always Dreaming is fifth, where 13 horses have won. Hence eighth, 11 winners. Gunnevera 10th with as many winners.
This unprecedented new era of information can seem overwhelming, but it's important to remember most of it is built into the list of odds above because oddsmakers must do everything they can to protect the house.
So the lesson this year likely follows a similar path—don't be too shocked if an underdog breaks into the top four, but don't go into the festivities ignoring the favorites.
These days, the favorites are the favorites for good reason.