2017 Kentucky Derby Picks ‘n Pans

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Kentucky Derby 2017 TV Schedule and Coverage

The Kentucky Derby will be held on Saturday, May 6 and is slated to begin (post time) at 6:34 p.m. ET  You can watch the Kentucky Derby on NBC, which will have TV coverage from 2:30-7:20 p.m. ET. Other pre-race coverage can be found on NBC Sports Network: “Derby Access” from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, May 4; the Kentucky Oaks 143 from 12-6:20 p.m. on Friday, May 5; and the Kentucky Derby Undercard from 12-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 6.


#15 McCracken

#5 Always Dreaming

#19 Practical Joke

#10 Gunnevera


WET AND WILD?  The current long range forecast for Derby day is a high of 62 degrees, with a 60 percent chance of rain. Even if it isn’t raining, the track will probably not have time to dry out by Saturday afternoon. Five KD contenders have 1st place finishes on an off-track, meaning that the racing surface was either wet, muddy or sloppy. GormleyTapwrit, Classic Empire, Hence and Battle of Midway.


BIRTHDAY/ANNIVERSARY BETTING  I’ve included the dates that the horses were born should you want to beat the experts with some good old fashion lucky picks via your spouse, kids or divorce independence day.


TRENDING  Given the now standard 20-horse field, the trend toward fewer prep races prior to the Triple Crown and the typically fast pace on the lead, the Kentucky Derby often sets up well for longshots. But the betting favorite is currently on a four-year winning streak in the KD, something that hasn’t happened since 1972-75


WHERE’S BOB?  The familiar white hair of Bob Baffert will not be seen in the winners circle after the four-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer came up empty this year with his 3-year-old colts, missing the KD for only the 4th time in 21 years. His best contender, the undefeated Mastery, stamped his ticket to the KD after impressively winning the San Felipe Stakes, but injured himself in the process. Even for Baffert, who trained American Pharoah to the Triple Crown in 2015, it takes a lot of luck to get a horse to Derby Day.


THE “CURSE of APOLLO”  No horse has won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a two-year-old since Apollo in 1882. Two horses Battle of Midway and Patch (one-eyed horse) hope to break that curse as both enter the KD having never raced as a two-year-old. Chicago Cubs fans having just beat the odds of a 108 year losing streak know a few things about curses and may want to put their lucky horseshoe money on these rookies.


LOCKED ‘N LOADED  Due to the large field of 20, horses are loaded into the gate two at a time. They load 1 and 11, 2 and 12, etc. etc. Meaning some horses will have to spend quite a bit of time nervously waiting in the gate while others take their turn loading.


The 2017 Kentucky Derby Horses by Post Position


#1 Lookin at Lee   20-1

Trainer: Steve Asmussen  Jockey: Corey Lanerie 

Sire/Dad: Lookin at Lucky (6th place in 2010 KD, 1st place in 2010 Preakness) Born: March 7, 2014

Starts: 9   Firsts: 2   Seconds: 2   Thirds: 2

He drew the worst post position at #1 but could still be closing late. He finishes strong every single time and figures to appreciate the added distance of the KD. His jockey Corey Lanerie knows Churchill Downs well and is capable of a rail run on an off track like Calvin Borel pulled with Mine That Bird in 2009. That, and the fact that many of the horses ahead of him will be staggering home late could get him in the money. Longshot Late Runner


#2 Thunder Snow   20-1

Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor  Jockey: Christophe Soumillon

Sire/Dad: Helmet Born: March 24, 2014

Starts: 8   Firsts: 4   Seconds: 2   Thirds: 0

Has run farther than any horse in the race after surging late to take the UAE Derby in Dubai. Traveled from Dubai to England and from England to Louisville where he had to be quaranteened for 48 hours. He’s run and won on off-track/wet conditions and both Thunder Snow and his jockey have played to large fields and crowds in Europe. He’s scary good and the best the powerful Godolphin Stable has ever shipped over. #2 post position is lousy in a field this large. International Question Mark


# 3 Fast and Accurate   50-1

Trainer: Mike Maker   Jockey: Channing Hill (only female)

Sire/Dad: Hansen-9th place in 2012 KD Born: March 27, 2014

Starts: 6   Firsts: 3   Seconds: 1   Thirds: 0

Has won his last three starts, but favors synthetic surface over the dirt surface of Churchill. The very capable jockey Channing Hill is riding in her first KD. Long shot for many reasons and should end up near the back of the pack. Will go for the lead “no matter what it takes.” We’ll just have to see how far he can take them. Olympic skier Bode Miller recently bought into Fast and Accurate, his first Derby starter. A nice match considering that both the horse and the party hardy Miller prefer synthetic. Pace Factor Only


#4 Untrapped    30-1

Trainer: Steve Asmussen   Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Sire/Dad: Trappe Shot Born: April 19, 2014

Starts: 6   Firsts: 1   Seconds: 3   Thirds: 1

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr rode all three Asmussen Derby entries and probably could have had his choice of any of the three mounts. He chose Untrapped, which says something about this horse. Judging by his bloodline the distance may be too much however. Ironically may find himself trapped in a pace duel between his neighbors the rabbit Fast and Accurate and the stronger Always Dreaming. Nice horse, but comes up short.


#5 Always Dreaming   5-1

Trainer: Todd Pletcher  Jockey: John Velazquez

Sire/Dad: Bodemeister (2nd in 2012 KD, 2nd in 2012 Preakness)   Born: Feb. 25, 2014

Starts: 5 Firsts: 3 Seconds: 1 Thirds: 1

He is the fastest horse in this Kentucky Derby field, but that’s not always enough.  A little headstrong since arriving in Louisville, he may find it a tough test if not given a perfect trip. He has won on both fast and slow surfaces. His works (practices) have been sensational whether he works alone or in company and he just keeps going. Hall of Fame jockey won KD in 2011. Big League Talent


#6 State of Honor   30-1

Trainer: Mark Casse   Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Sire/Dad: To Honor and Serve Born: Feb. 25, 2014

Starts: 10   Firsts: 1   Seconds: 4   Thirds: 2

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride is the best way to describe this Mark Casse-trained Canadian bred colt. He hasn’t won a race in four starts during his 3-year-old campaign but has looked very good since coming to Churchill Downs. He always runs big against the best around, but can never finish it off. He also has plenty of speed, and proven class, but distance may be a problem.


#7 Girvin   15-1

Trainer: Joe Sharp   Jockey: Mike Smith

Sire/Dad: Tale of Ekati (4th in 2008 KD, 6th in 2008 Belmont) Born: March 31, 2014

Starts: 4    Firsts: 3   Seconds: 1   Thirds: 0

He looked to have plenty going for him heading to Louisville, including the pick-up of Hall of Fame rider, Mike Smith, but then an injury (quarter crack) in his right front hoof was discovered. This development has to be considered a negative this close to the big race. The good news is that after therapy, he came back with a nice work at Keeneland. If he is somehow at his very best on Saturday, he is a legitimate threat and has excellent closing speed. Anything less than 100% leaves him as a likely also-ran in this one. Sharp mainly trains turf horses which is where this horse began his career. He’s one of my favorite trainers. His wife and training partner is Rosie Napravnik who retired from the saddle at the top of her game to raise their family. Quarter Crack Question Mark


#8 Hence  15-1

Trainer: Steve Asmussen  Jockey: Florent Geroux

Sire/Dad: Street Boss Born: March 28

Starts: 6   Firsts: 2   Seconds: 1   Thirds: 1

Hence has been very much a work in progress, but one that his connections always liked. After only occasional flashes of talent he could be a Derby Day sleeper at decent odds. I have a feeling he is still learning, but the light switch may have been turned on in time. He also picks up a high quality rider, in Florent Geroux. He should run somewhere in midpack. History shows that #8 post is a top spot for winning the KD. Distance may be an issue, but he has won on an off-track/wet surface.


#9 Irap   20-1

Trainer: Doug O’Neill   Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Sire/Dad: Tiznow Born: Feb. 11, 2014

Starts: 8   Firsts: 1   Seconds: 3   Thirds: 1

Has the same trainer/jockey combination of two previous Kentucky Derby winners in I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016). Irap’s name has nothing to do with Chance the Rapper but rather the IRAP joint therapy drug that the young horse takes. The farm he was raised at mistook the delivery of the new drug as the horses name and it stuck. Should pressure the Derby pace, and may or may not have enough to fight them off down the stretch. Appears to be peaking at the right time.


#10 Gunnevera   15-1

Trainer: Antonio Sano  Jockey: Javier Castellano

Sire/Dad: Dialed In (8th in 2011 KD, 4th in 2011 Preakness) Born: Feb. 28, 2014

Starts: 9   Firsts: 4   Seconds: 2   Thirds: 1

His victory in the Fountain of Youth, as well as other impressive wins at two-years-old, are clear signs that he has the class and closing rush to win the Derby on his best race. His closer style of racing, late speed and the additional furlong he’ll get in the Kentucky Derby should make him more of a factor at the end. His pedigree says he will run all day. Jockey Javier Castellano was just elected to racing’s Hall of Fame and is in search of his first Derby win, his best finish was fourth in 2013. This is the first Derby starter for trainer Antonio Sano, who survived two kidnappings in his native Venezuela before moving to Miami. Will Be Rolling Late


#11 Battle of Midway   30-1

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer  Jockey: Flavien Prat  

Sire/Dad: Smart Strike Born: Jan. 30, 2014

Starts: 4   Firsts: 2   Seconds: 1   Thirds: 1

There is plenty of talent here in the son of Smart Strike, and he has come a long way since making his career debut on January 21. Finished 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby but the talent on the West Coast this year isn’t anywhere near where its been the last three years. Considering his lack of experience, and the other speed types in here, the Kentucky Derby would seem a tall hill to climb for the talented Jerry Hollendorfer runner. Jockey is riding horse for the first time after replacing Corey Nakatani (boo!) Has won on an off-track/wet surface but remember the “CURSE of APOLLO”.


#12 Sonneteer   50-1

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux   Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Sire/Dad: Midnight Lute Born: March 1, 2014

Starts: 10   Firsts: 0   Seconds: 4   Thirds: 2

Strong rallies for the son of Midnight Lute in both the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby point to a horse improving and one that should be passing tiring horses in the KD. Having not finished first in any race, he will try to become the first maiden to win the Kentucky Derby since Brokers Tip in 1933. Last year, the Desormeaux brothers trainer/jockey team placed second in the KD with Exaggerator. As big longshots go, you could do worse. Closing late, but distance may be an issue. BIG BOMBER


#13 J Boys Echo   20-1

Trainer: Dale Romans  Jockey: Luis Saez

Sire/Dad: Mineshaft Born: April 21, 2014

Starts: 6   Firsts: 2   Seconds: 1   Thirds: 1

Back at his regular home of Churchill Downs, he might be ready to run a big one for his Louisville native trainer, but it’s hard to know if he is really good enough to run big in a race like this. Saturday represents a whole new level of challenge. He’s not without a chance, but of the interesting longshots, I do like a few others better. Reports from Churchill have him training great and liking the course. Retired Chicago broadcaster Ron Magers likes his chances and now owns a share of J Boys Echo’s mother. History shows that #13 post is a top spot for winning the KD. Local Runner Could Be Running Late


#14 Classic Empire  4-1 

Trainer: Mark Casse  Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Sire/Dad: Pioneerof the Nile (2nd in 2009 KD, 11th in 2009 Preakness) Born: March 21, 2014

Starts: 7   Firsts: 5   Seconds: 0   Thirds: 1

The son of Pioneerof The Nile was the best juvenile in the land in 2016 and is Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s half-brother. This year has been a struggle, though. Physical and mental issues have kept most of his three-year-old season in doubt. Thanks to his class, and good training, he was able to bounce back in time to surge to victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Now he comes back to Churchill Downs as the favorite. Has won on an off-track/wet surface. Respect The Champ – A Bit of a Headcase


#15 McCraken   5-1

Trainer: Ian Wilkes  Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Sire/Dad: Ghostzapper Born: April 13, 2014

The three-time stakes winning son of the champion Ghostzapper is my top choice to take home the roses on Saturday. He has a hot local rider and a trainer who knows how to build a horse up to a Kentucky Derby.  An ideal running style and pedigree doesn’t hurt either. He loves Churchill Downs and has won all three of his races there. He will bring his ‘A’ game and that gives him a big chance to take over at the top of the stretch on his way to Kentucky Derby glory. Top Pick in Wide Open Affair


#16 Tapwrit   20-1

Trainer: Todd Pletcher  Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Sire/Dad: Tapit (9th in 2004 KD) Born: March 28, 2014

Starts: 6   Firsts: 3   Seconds: 1   Thirds: 0

Looking better with every start, he looked headed to be one of the Derby favorites before a dull fifth-place finish in the Blue Grass. He broke a little slow that day, and never seemed to be really in the race. Can he bounce back from that disappointment? This year seems to be the year when horses can come back from a disappointing effort to do good things, and with a good running style for the KD, Tapwrit could be another to do just that, and at nice odds. His pedigree suggests that he will like the added distance of the KD. History shows that #16 post is a top spot for winning the KD. Has won on an off-track/wet surface. Looking Good at Churchill


#17 Irish War Cry   6-1

Trainer: Graham Motion  Jockey: Rajiv Maragh

Sire/Dad: Curlin (3rd in 2007 KD, 1st in 2007 Preakness, 2nd in 2007 Belmont) Born: May 2, 2014

Starts: 5   Firsts: 4   Seconds: 0   Thirds: 0

Irish War Cry is a talented colt and I like his pedigree, however in both of his easy wins, he got a favorable trip. Things are bound to be tougher against a field that includes many horses that prefer to be on, or near, the early lead. Having said that, his Holy Bull and Wood Memorial  were good enough to name him the favorite for the Derby had it not been for the Fountain of Youth flop. Trainer Motion and jockey Maragh in his corner is a positive. No horse has EVER won the KD from the 17th post. No New Jersey-bred horse has won the KD since Cavalcade in 1934. Dangerous Speed


#18 Gormley   15-1

Trainer: John A. Shirreffs   Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Sire/Dad: Malibu Moon (Orb-1st in 2013 KD) Born: March 20, 2014

Starts: 6   Firsts: 4   Seconds: 0   Thirds: 0

Many will root for this three-time stakes winner, but from a betting perspective, I don’t see him offering true value on Saturday. While two of his wins came in Grade 1 company,  I’m not sure he was the best horse in a weak Santa Anita Derby. Jockey Espinoza has won the Kentucky Derby three times. Has won on an off-track/wet surface. Orb, son of Gormley’s dad Malibu Moon won the KD in the rain. If it rains on Derby Day, Gormley may be in play. Good Horse – Tough Test


#19 Practical Joke   20-1

Trainer: Chad Brown  Jockey: Joel Rosario

Sire/Dad: Into Mischief Born: April 15, 2014

Starts: 6   Firsts: 3   Seconds: 2   Thirds: 1

After three-straight defeats, it looks like it might be blinkers on for the dual Grade 1 winner, although we are still waiting for confirmation from trainer, Chad Brown. A change of equipment like this could help, but is a bit scary this close to the Derby. Too much, too early, in the Derby would not be a good thing. He’s had trouble finishing off his races against the very best at this distance. Having said that, he is moving in the right direction, and clearly has class and consistency on his side. Distance is the Question


#20 Patch   20-1

Trainer: Todd Pletcher  Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Sire/Dad: Union Rags-7th place finish in 2012 KD, 1st place finish in 2012 Belmont Born: March 18, 2014

Starts: 11   Firsts: 3   Seconds: 1   Thirds: 3

The one-eyed Pletcher-trained colt will be a fan favorite on Derby Day which means his odds will be bet down. Was already named Patch before losing his eye as a two-year-old. Will be asked to break from post 20, Big Brown is the ONLY KD winner from the far outside post. Remember the “CURSE of APOLLO”. -A Lovable Loser.


Betting 101-As it pertains to a single race, in this case The Kentucky Derby


Straight Bets

With straight bets, you are betting on one horse to do a specific thing – Win, Place, or Show. Straight bets require a minimum risk of $2. Below are the types of straight bets as well as a brief description of each.

Win – You win if your horse finishes 1st.

Place – You win if your horse finishes 1st or 2nd.

Show – You win if your horse finishes 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.

Across the Board – A win, place and show bet on the same horse.


Exotic Wagering

Some people like to be a little more daring in their betting. Exotic bets offer a chance to turn a small amount of money into a much larger amount of money.

Exacta – You win if you select the 1st and 2nd place horses in a race in the “exact” order.

Trifecta – You win if you select the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place horses in a race in the correct order of finish.

Superfecta – You win if you select the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place horses in a race in the correct order of finish.

Box – An exotic bet where all possible combinations are covered for a group of two or more horses.

Odds-Pari-mutuel betting is in effect, the odds will fluctuate with the wagering public up until the time the gate opens and the race is off and running.


Feel free to pass this along to your family and friends, just don’t use my humble attempt at making the Kentucky Derby a little more fun as an excuse to your spouse as to why you lost the mortgage payment. 

Have fun!  


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