We are now just days away from the world’s most important horse race and Kentucky Derby fever is sweeping the nation. Check out the Kentucky Derby odds at 5Dimes and you will see the lines shifting constantly as the public backs different runners. There is a guaranteed $2 million purse and the world’s finest three-year-old thoroughbreds will gather to battle it out for those riches. It always attracts more than 15 million US viewers and many more from around the world, and it should prove another thrilling occasion. Here we run through some of the leading contenders and assess their chances, along with their current odds
Classic Empire (+600)
The co-favorite, a son of Pioneerof the Nile, who also sired previous Derby winner American Pharoah, has had an interesting journey to the Kentucky Derby. He was the champion two-year-old colt last year and stormed into 2017 full of promise, but finished third behind Irish War Cry and Gunnevera in the Holy Bull in February. A two-and-a-half month layoff ensued, but he returned in style by clinching the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby to move up to 132 qualification points. His volatility could be an issue, and he is a risk at such low odds, but he will enjoy the distance and is certainly a contender.
Always Dreaming (+600)
At +600 Always Dreaming looks a really good bet as he has posted the fasted nine-furlong time of any of the contenders, as his 1:47.47 in the Florida Derby obliterated the field. He has two wins at nine furlongs show he enjoys the distance and he has been consistently improving. The odds are likely to tumble, however, so he may not provide too much value for long.
Irish War Cry (+800)
This is a really interesting contender. He won all three of his races and was superb in beating Gunnevera and Classic Empire in the Holy Bull, which made him the antepost favorite for the Kentucky Derby. But then it all went wrong in the Fountain of Youth as his finished a lowly seventh, well behind winner Gunnevera, losing a shoe in the process. Injury was blamed, and a layoff ensued for him too, but he also returned with a bang by romping to victory with excellent speed in the Wood Memorial and seizing 100 points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. He will be a contender, but like Classic Empire he has missed training time and may fall just short.
McCracken spent a while as favorite for this race after he went unbeaten in four starts, earning 20 eligibility points, and gained traction because three of his wins came at Churchill Downs as a two-year-old, so he clearly likes the course. But he went two months without race and on his return finished third behind Irap and Practical Joke in the Blue Grass. He scraped in with just enough points, and will be a threat, but will need to drastically improve if he is to win it.
You start getting really good value when you go each-way on runners at these odds as you will still make a considerable profit if they place, and Gunnevera has been competitive throughout his career. He closer style of running will give him a chance as he should pass tired horses near the end of the race and could sneak into the places.
Irap and Hence, both +2500, look like good long shots, but a real contender could be Girvin. Despite finishing above Classic Empire as the horse with the most qualification points, he is all the way down the betting at +2000. He has done little wrong in his career, winning three races and finishing second once, and ran a great race in the Louisiana Derby. He has not tested himself against the best in the land, and regular jockey Brian Hernandez opting to ride McCracken instead might be symbolic, but he is surely in with a chance given his pace and class and at those odds looks a good long-shot, while Always Dreaming probably looks the best of the favorites.