Favorites get Headlines, but Derby Winner Won’t be Best Bet in Preakness

The Kentucky Derby field is set and the post-position draw and morning line odds has Derby fans dreaming for their winner. Always Dreaming is getting plenty of play as the co-second choice at 5-1 with McCraken, while Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champioin and Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire (4-1) is the favorite to win the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.

Classic Empire will break from post No. 14. He’s a 3-time Grade I winner. Jockey Julien Leparoux is a 9-time Derby loser trying for his first Kentucky Derby win.

Always Dreaming drew post No. 5 for the Derby. He won the Florida Derby by 5 lengths with a fantastic finish and the fastest Florida Derby time since Alydar in 1978. Not bad for his first stakes start. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is 1-for-18 in the Kentucky Derby, riding Animal Kingdom to victory in 2011.

McCraken will be in post No. 15 alongside Classic Empire. McCraken is 3-for-3 over the Churchill Downs track, but lost his recent start finishing 3rd in the Blue Grass Stakes. McCraken will try to become the first Blue Grass runner since 2007 to win the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Brian Hernandez will try to win his first Kentucky Derby in his second start.     

The other single-digit favorite in the Derby is Irish War Cry (6-1) breaking from post No. 17, where no horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Rajiv Maragh will try to also snap that streak with his 1st Derby win in his fifth start.

Wednesday was the Derby Draw and a day of laying odds. But regardless of who wins the Derby, the next Triple Crown race in the Preakness Stakes will provide another test for Derby runners trying to circle back just two weeks later at Pimlico. A number of fresh new runners will take their shot against the Derby winner and likely four or five other Derby runners. And the odds of the Derby winner will be even lower at the Preakness, making them a tougher choice to support even if they come out of the Derby in good shape.

Last year Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby as the 5-2 favorite for his 8th straight victory. Second choice Exaggerator finished in 2nd place. When the two rivals went to the Preakness, Exaggerator turned the tables to win the Preakness while Nyquist finished 3rd as the over bet 3-5 favorite. Nyquist would never win another race and retire following his 11th career start. Newcomers Cherry Wine (17-1) finished 2nd while lightly-raced speedster Stradivari (8-1) finished 4th in his stakes debut at the 2016 Preakness.

So watch the Kentucky Derby with interest and find a favorite or two and a few long shots to include in your exotic wagers. Then plan your Preakness strategy and uncover some under-the-radar horses and value to profit in the Preakness.

Kentucky Derby field with post position, odds, jockey, trainer and most recent race finish.

Post Horse Odds Jockey Trainer Last Race
1 Lookin at Lee 20-1 Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 3rd Arkansas Derby
2 Thunder Snow 20-1 Chris Soumillon Saeed bin Suroor 1st UA Derby
3 Fast and Accurate 50-1 Channing Hill Mike Maker 1st Spiral Stakes
4 Untrapped 30-1 Ricardo Santana, Jr. Steve Asmussen 6th Arkansas Derby
5 Always Dreaming 5–1 John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 1st Florida Derby
6 State of Honor 30–1 Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 2nd Florida Derby
7 Girvin 15-1 Mike Smith Joe Sharp 1st Louisiana Derby
8 Hence 15-1 Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 1st Sunland Derby
9 Irap 20-1 Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neil 1st Blue Grass Stakes
10 Gunnevera 15-1 Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 3rd Florida Derby
11 Battle of Midway 30-1 Flavien Prat Jerry Hollendorfer 2nd Santa Anita Derby
12 Sonneteer 50-1 Kent Desormeaus Keith Desormeaux 4th Arkansas Derby
13 J Boys Echo 20-1 Luis Saez Dale Romans 4th Blue Grass Stakes
14 Classic Empire 4–1 Julien Leparoux Mark Casse 1st Arkansas Derby
15 McCraken 5–1 Brian Hernandez, Jr Ian Wilkes 3rd Blue Grass Stakes
16 Tapwrit 20-1 Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 5th Blue Grass Stakes
17 Irish War Cry 6–1 Fajiv Maragh Graham Motion 1st Wood Memorial
18 Gormely 15-1 Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 1st Santa Anita Derby
19 Practical Joke 20-1 Joel Rosario Chad Brown 2nd Blue Grass Stakes
20 Patch 30-1 Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 2nd Louisiana Derby

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