Classic Empire Favored in 2017 Kentucky Derby Field
No more need for guesswork: The field of 20 horses is set for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, and it’s looking like a four-horse race.
Wednesday’s post position draw may have made the 143rd Run for the Roses even more competitive. Classic Empire drew post No. 14, which hasn’t produced a Derby champion since Carry Back in 1961. McCraken (No. 15) and Irish War Cry (No. 17) will both start from the auxiliary gate. Always Dreaming appears to have the best draw of the bunch with post No. 5; nine horses have won from there, including California Chrome in 2014.
Master Plan B
That’s assuming Always Dreaming races on Saturday. This dark bay has been a handful for trainer Todd Pletcher, showing excessive energy and forcing Pletcher to change both his exercise rider and the training reins with just days left before the Derby. Always Dreaming will probably make it to the No. 5 gate just fine, but if he doesn’t, Pletcher has some back-up: Master Plan is one of two “also-eligible” horses who can step in if Always Dreaming or anyone else gets scratched by Friday morning. Royal Mo, trained by John Shirreffs, is the second potential substitute.
As for the Derby favorite, No. 14 might not be such a bad spot for Classic Empire. It’s the outside post on the main gate, which means there will be some room between him and McCraken in the auxiliary gate on his right. But that also means McCraken will have some leeway on his left. No. 15 was American Pharoah’s gate when he won the 2015 Kentucky Derby on his way to completing the Triple Crown.
The second tier of Kentucky Derby contenders at Bovada Racebook begins with Gunnevara at 12/1, and this chestnut colt should be well-positioned for trainer Antonio Sano coming out of post No. 10. You can find the complete list of 20 horses on the futures market at Bovada, with their odds and their assigned jockeys included. We’ll release the full complement of Kentucky Derby odds as we get closer to the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.
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