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2017 Kentucky Derby Preview

This year’s Kentucky Debry looks to be one of the tightest ever as there are no consensus favorite for the 143rd run for the Roses. Expect it to be a field day for the bettors as more than half the field could come into play, making it a good race to select a longshot. The weather in Louisville is expected to be cool and rainy, leading to a sloppy track, which could set up well for a number of different horses in the field.

Gate 1: Looking at Lee, who is listed at 20-1, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Corey Lanerie does not appear to be a big factor in this race. He finished third in the Arkansas Derby and fourth at the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. Even if you are looking for a solid underdog, its best to be looking elsewhere, especially with the difficulty of coming out of the first gate in a race with 20 horses.

Gate 2: Thunder Snow listed at 20-1 trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Christophe Soumillon could by an interesting choice with the expected sloppy track conditions. The Irish bred horse, loves running in the slop, but will be making its first run on an American track, having arrived in the United States on April 30th. Thunder Snow won the UAE Derby on a sloppy track, but no horse has ever come from Dubai and won the Kentucky Derby. That being said don’t be shocked, if Thunder Snow finishes in the money.

Gate 3: Fast and Accurate listed at 50-1 trained by Michael Maker and ridden by Channing Hill is making just his third race at Churchill Downs. Though he has won both his previous races, including the Spiral Stakes, it is hard to imagine a horse this inexperienced coming anywhere close to the finish line in such a crowded field.

Gate 4: Untrapped listed at 30-1 is trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. has never finished first. Don’t expect Untrapped to spring out of this crowded field as he will finish back in the pack in this crowded field.

Gate 5: Always Dreaming listed at 5-1 is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden John Velazquez is one of the top choices to win this race. Winning his last two races including a big win at the Florida Derby, has his owner Dreaming of the winner’s circle. Even though the horse may not finish first, expect Always Dreaming to be strong at the finish and safe bet to place in money or as part of an exacta.

Gate 6: State of Honor listed at 30-1 is trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Jose Lezcano is coming off a strong second place finish in the Florida Derby. This horse does not seem to be getting the respect it deserves, but the with inexperienced trainers and riders will likely have a tough time getting to the front of the pack.

Gate 7: Girvin listed at 15-1 is trained by Joe Sharp and ridden by Mike E. Smith. Coming off a win in the Louisiana Derby. However, after suffering a quarter crack on his right hoof, it is hard to imagine him being a factor in the Kentucky Derby. Just to get ready for the race Girvin underwent heavy medical treatment including time in a hyperbaric chamber.

Gate 8:  Hence listed at 15-1 is trained Steve Asmussen and ridden by Florent Geroux. Coming off a win in the Sunland Derby, Hence will be trying to wedge its way to the front in a crowded field. With a terrific pedigree coming from the same bloodline as Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. If you are looking for a solid longshot Hence might be the horse for you.

Gate 9: Irap is listed at 20-1 is trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez. Coming of a big win I the Blue Grass Stakes, Irap could be finding his stride just in time as O’Neill and Gutierrez look to win another run for the roses, after taking Nyquist to the Winner’s Circle last year.

Gate 10: Gunnevera is listed at 15-1 is trained by Antonio Sano and ridden by Javier Castellano. Gunnevera has won four of his previous nine races and is a good bet to be a factor in the race, especially coming out of the 10 gate, which is one of the two most successful slots in the derby. The only worry is if Gunnevera has been run too many times to have the stamina at Churchill Downs.

Gate 11: Battle of Midway is listed at 30-1 is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden Flavien Prat. Coming off a strong second place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, Battle of Midway is a terrific name especially for those who are World War II history buffs. However, California horses don’t often fare well in Louisville, and will have a tough time getting out of the middle of the pack.

Gate 12: Sonneteer is listed at 50-1 is trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by Kent Desormeaux. The Desormeaux Brothers are horse racing royalty, but come into the derby this year with a did. Sonneteer has never won in ten starts. Just the 11th horse to enter the derby since 1937, with last year’s maiden Trojan Nation finishing back in the pack. Expect the same for Sonneteer.

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Gate 13: J Boys Echo is listed at 20-1 is trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Luis Saez. Saturday is for the Boys; can it also be for J Boys Echo in the run for the roses? Coming of a disappointing showing in the Bluegrass States J Boys Echo will need to have a strong run early to be a factor in this race, especially running next to the favorites.

Gate 14: Classic Empire is listed at 4-1 is trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux. Classic Empire is the favorite for good reason, winning two traditional derby test races, with the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and the Arkansas Derby. However, the favorite in the Kentucky Derby is like winning the President’s Trophy in hockey as it is often the kiss of death. You may find the lack of faith in Classic Empire disturbing, but Julien Leparoux has never won at Churchill Downs in nine previous rides. That being said it would be disappointing to see Classic Empire shutout of the money.

Gate 15: McCraken is listed at 5-1 is trained by Ian Wilkes and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. McCraken was considered a horse to watch since the beginning of the year, and looks to getting back on track after being slowed by an injury, which led to a disappointing third place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes. The sloppy track could play into McCraken racing style. Don’t be shocked if McCraken surpasses Classic Empire as the favorite as race time approaches and the same can happen in the race as McCraken is a safe bet to finish in the money and will be one of the horses to beat.

Gate 16: Tapwrit is listed at 20-1 is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz. Tapwrit one of the most expensive horses in the race, needs to improve his riding style if he is to have a chance to be a factor in this race. Being next to some of the strongest horses in the field could help Tapwrit get up to the front of the pack, but the desire to run ride like it did in the Bluegrass Stakes will prevent the horse from being a factor in the derby.

Gate 17: Irish War Cry is listed at 6-1 is trained by Graham Motion and ridden by Rajiv Maragh. Considered by many to be a favorite early in the year, Irish War Cry suffered a seventh place finish in the Fountain of Youth, leading some to question the horse’s stamina. However, after an impressive three and a half length win at the Wood Memorial there is no question that Irish War Cry can win the Kentucky Derby. Another horse that likes running on sloppy tracks, should benefit from the cool wet weather that is in the forecast and will be a horse to watch down the stretch. Erin Go Bragh.

Gate 18: Gormely is listed at 15-1 is trained by John Shirreffs and ridden by Victor Espinoza. Another California horse who edged Battle of Midway in the Santa Anita Derby, Gormley struggled in the Breeder’s Cup Juvinile, finishing seventh. It is hard to see Gormley being a serious factor in this race, even with the legendary Victor Espinoza in the saddle.

Gate 19: Practical Joke is listed at 20-1 is trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Joel Rosario. This is no joke, but if you want a longshot to lay some money on Practical Joke is the horse for you. In six races, Practical Joke has finished in the money every time, including a third place finish in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile.

Gate 20: Patch is listed at 30-1 is trained by Todd Pletcher sand ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. Patch finished second in the Louisiana Derby, but is unlikely to be much of a factor coming out of the 20th gate and in a field with the best three year olds in the world.

The Tank Trifecta

1st Irish War Cry

WIN: Irish War Cry

Place: Classic Empire

PLACE: Classic Empire

SHOW: McCraken

SHOW: McCraken

Long Shot to Watch Thunder Snow

Long Shot to Watch Thunder Snow

Frank Fleming is the creator of Sportsecyclopedia.com