The first weekend of May has come upon us and it’s time for something special. No, not the NBA playoffs or even the NHL playoffs, but what many people refer to as “the most exciting two minutes of sports”. We’re talking about the Kentucky Derby.
Nothing beats the sound of the bell as the thousands at Churchill Downs gather at the rail in hope of cashing a winning ticket in. This race is wide open with several horses having the ability to win the race. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s field.
Classical Empire comes out as the morning line favorite with odds of 4-1, running out of the 14 gate, which is a good draw for him. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, who is yet to take home a derby win but has had success at Churchill Downs, and is also trained by veteran Mark Casse. Classical Empire is coming in to the derby off a big win at the Arkansas Derby and has had prior success at Churchill Downs.
Always Dreaming has odds of 5-1 and is running out of gate number 5 and ridden by well-known jockey John Velazquez, who has one Derby win under his belt. Coming off a win at the Florida Derby, Always Dreaming is yet to lose a race in 2017. Trained by Todd Pletcher, who is 1-for-45 in his derby appearances, this horse should still provide a strong performance.
Coming in at 5-1, McCraken is another popular pick. Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr and trained by Ian Wilkes, McCraken has ran well at Churchill Downs, posting a record of 3-3 in his career. Expect him to stay off the pace and finish with flurry.
More of a longshot, Practical Joker comes in at 20-1, ridden by Joel Rosario, the Derby winner from 2013. There have been questions about whether he can handle the 1 1/4 mile run and concern over a potential slow start. Expect a strong showing and the value pick of the race.
Always Dreaming takes home the Derby this year. The combination of Velazquez and Pletcher should be able to deliver. This win will ease that rough record Pletcher has in the Derby.
Longshots of the race are Practical Joker and Gunnevera. Don’t be surprised if either of these two are competing down the stretch.
Those are just a few horses to keep an eye out for during the race. Remember, “scared money don’t make any money” so put in those bets. For all the non-horse fans, be sure to watch the race. The Kentucky Derby is special and delivers on all its hype.