The 2017 Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs is expected to have one of the deepest fields of the top 3-year old thoroughbreds in recent memory. This opens the door for any number of contenders to stake their claim to the first leg of this year’s Triple Crown racing season.
Bovada has recently updated its futures odds to win this year’s Kentucky Derby and the 21-horse list (only 20 can race) is headed by Classic Empire as one of two early favorites at +500 along with Always Dreaming. Irish War Cry is also high on the list at +650, and McCraken is in the mix at +900. While most of the early betting money will probably come in on one of these four horses, the following is a look at a trio of projected entries who offer the best value at longer odds.
This Kentucky-bred colt is ranked third on the list in qualifying points for this year’s Kentucky Derby fresh off his impressive victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 8. He completed the 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita in 1:51.16 over Battle of Midway and Royal Mo to notch his second career victory this season. Trained by John Shirreffs, he started this year with a victory in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita before fading to fourth in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes in early March at 1 1/16 miles.
The son of Malibu Moon is currently ranked No. 77 by Horse Racing Nation with a rating of 7.83. He continues to improve at longer distances and this should work in his favor at Churchill.
Famed trainer Todd Pletcher would probably list Always Dreaming as his top contender in this year’s Kentucky Derby, but this colt has what it takes to actually upstage the field as one of his four possible entries in this race. Malagacy has slipped down Bovada’s Kentucky Derby futures board in recent weeks following a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 15, but he still has a huge victory in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at that same track on his resume.
This pedigree from Shackleford did not race as a juvenile. However, he has three victories to his credit in four events this year. His HRN ranking comes in at 285 and his overall rating stands at 7.55.
State of Honor +4000
This Canadian-bred colt first caught my eye as a juvenile with a couple of strong runs at Woodbine. He made his United States debut at Gulfstream Park in early January with a second-place run in the ungraded Mucho Macho Man Stakes at a distance of 1 mile. While he is still looking for his first victory in a major graded stakes event, he has been extremely competitive in a number of big-money races, starting with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 11. From there he finished second in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby before posting his most impressive run with a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream behind Always Dreaming on April 1 at 1 1/8 miles.
Trainer Mark Casse has done an excellent job at bringing this son of To Honor and Serve along over the course of the prep race season. Despite a rating of just 6.27 in a very deep field, I believe that he could offer the best value on the board at his current odds.Talk 2017 Kentucky Derby In Our Horse Racing Forum