Kentucky Derby 2017 expert picks: Paths to victory for McCraken, Gunnevera and the rest of the field
The 2017 Kentucky Derby has a clear pecking order of favorites but also features a better-than-average chance for sleepers and long shots. Classic Empire opened as an early 4-to-1 favorite at Churchill Downs, while Always Dreaming and McCraken both have 5-to-1 odds in their own paths to victory.
Classic Empire has all the makings of a Kentucky Derby winner with a good track record, including a win at the Arkansas Derby three weeks ago, and a near-ideal post draw from the 14th position. But the horse has also had preparation issues, which present a big challenge for gamblers trying to figure out how ready he will be for the Kentucky Derby.
Always Dreaming is another horse with big talent but personality issues, according to Brian Zipse, editor of HorseRacingNation.com. Will the horse be too “headstrong” for his own good with 19 other horses in the field and a huge gallery at Churchill Downs? It’s an issue worth considering.
McCraken is Zipse’s pick to win the 2017 Kentucky Derby for a host of reasons, but he continues to fly under the radar behind Always Dreaming and Classic Empire. McCraken also draws a good post position at No. 15 and has a home track advantage after doing most of his work at Churchill Downs. Zipse sees McCraken settling into the middle of the pack and making a late charge at the turn.
On the contrary, Irish War Cry goes off as a 6-to-1 shot whose style might clash with McCraken. He’s a speed horse with wins under his belt at the Wood Memorial and Holy Bull Stakes who will settle in early at the front of the pack. Irish War Cry’s shot at winning might depend on how hard he is pushed by other speed horses in the field.
Throw in intriguing horses such as Gunnevera (15-1), Hence (15-1) and Irap (20-1), the 2017 Kentucky Derby field has plenty of potential for fireworks.
Brian Zipse was gracious enough to give his expert insights on every horse in the field and what they need to do in order to make their run for the roses. Zipse’s thoughts are below along with bio information and previous results for each horse. The horses are listed by post position.
When: Saturday, May 6 at 6:46 p.m.
On television: NBC
Live stream: NBC Sports Live and NBC Sports app