Derby 2017: 5 horses to watch in 143rd Kentucky Derby

04 May, 2017, 00:52 | Author: Felix Jensen

Most of the "experts" aren't giving any of the California-based horses much of a chance to win this year's Kentucky Derby. He was the victor of the Florida Derby last month and did so while putting up an astonishing speed. It was a huge blow to a trainer who's missed the Derby just twice since 2009 and whose four victories are tied for second-most in history.

Raced under the partnership of Brooklyn Boyz Stable and Teresa Viola Racing, Always Dreaming moved up in class to an optional claiming allowance in his next start and, again, ruled over the competition with a winning margin of four lengths. Always Dreaming remains the favorite at 14/5, followed by McCraken at 4/1, then Irap at his current odds of 11/2.

"The incredible thing of getting a horse to the Derby is keeping him injury free", said Doug O'Neill, who trained last year's victor Nyquist.

If it happens, aside from a raincoat, it would be wise to bring some extra aspirin with you to Churchill Downs because an already tricky handicapping proposition will become an even bigger headache with a muddy track tossed into the equation. When Pletcher galloped the horse Monday morning, he made a change in equipment to "draw reins", which are primarily used to gain better control over a horse, and a rider change to exercise rider Nick Bush, who is Pletcher's draw-rein specialist.

"He would ride in tracks in IL and white jockeys would kind of bump him up against the rail, riding tactics against him, that kind of stuff became more common in the early 20th century it then became harder for African Americans to get licenses", Goodlett said.

"He was too aggressive in the middle", Asmussen said. "Of course, Palm Beach Downs is a different environment, different setting. I wanted him ready for all three races".

Below is the complete 2017 143rd Kentucky Derby Post Positions. However, with just one starter in seven years - Stately Victor, who finished eighth in 2010 - the Hall of Famer has had little impact on the Kentucky Derby.

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In his previous starts, Irap finished no closer than two lengths behind the victor and he could have a tougher time pressing the pace at the Derby. So while it was not the performance his team expected after his effort in the Tampa Bay Derby, it may have been the extra race he needed to bounce back to form.

"No one really knows", trainer Todd Pletcher said. As you place your wages on the poised victor of this year's races, make sure to watch all the action go down in haute style.

Once Patch recovered, Pletcher wondered how he would respond.

Two of them - Always Dreaming and Classic Empire - could be the favorites for the 1 ¼-mile race. For Arcaro you need to travel back to 1938 (final win was in 1952) for his first of five wins and for Hartack back to 1957 (final win was in 1969).

Since Smarty Jones swept Oaklawn's three prep races and won this glorious event in 2004, every horse that goes from Hot Springs to Louisville is considered an adopted Arkie-bred.

Playing on the sire's name, owner Calumet farm named the son of Union Rags "Patch", but the name carried more meaning as the colt matured.

Patch, whose left eye was removed because of infection, drew the No. 20 post on the far outside. "It seems to never faze him". He's actually a pretty alert horse away from the gate. "I've got one major vacancy on my résumé".

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