When betting the Kentucky Derby, it’s best to first narrow down a list of contenders. Here is a list of contenders that we like this evening at Churchill Downs.
Always Dreaming (13/4)
He’s the current favorite but that might not last long. With Irish War Cry, Classic Empire and McCraken drawing more national attention, Always Dreaming appears to be flying under the radar, even for a favorite. The best reason to bet Always Dreaming? His showing in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 1 was one of the most impressive showings of any contender in any race in this year’s field. One reason to stay away? He’s competed in just one graded stakes race in his career.
Irish War Cry (13/4)
The co-favorite of Always Dreaming, Irish War Cry’s stock is on the rise. The winner of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial has finished off the board just one time in five career races. The reason to bet Irish War Cry? In those five career races, not only did he finish outside the money just once, he won four of those starts. The reason to stay away? The only time he finished off the board came in a seventh-place finish in the Fountain Of Youth, a race he was heavily favored.
The reason to beat McCraken: Before placing third in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes on April 8, he had won his four previous starts. Two of those three starts came in graded stakes races, as he won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 26 and the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis on February 11. The reason to stay away? He needs to shake off the rust from a third-place showing in the Blue Grass, which came after a break in training due to injury.
Classic Empire (7/1)
The reason to bet Classic Empire? His showing in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby was impressive despite falling further behind the pace than usual. IN seven career starts he has five wins, including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The reason to stay away? He finished a disappointing third (beaten by eight lengths) in his 3-year-old debut in February as a heavy favorite. The winner of the Holy Bull that day? Irish War Cry.
One of my favorite long-shots to potentially upset the field, Gunnevera is one of the most consistent contenders in the Kentucky Derby field. He has loads of experience, winning four times in nine starts and finishing on the board in three others. In fact, he’s won three graded stakes races thus far, including the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth back in March. One reason to stay away? He finished third behind Always Dreaming and State of Honor in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, indicating his ceiling might be third.
Thunder Snow (17/1)
One reason to bet Thunder Snow? He’s coming off three consecutive wins, including the Grade 2 UAE Derby on March 25. One reason to stay away? He’s a bit of a mystery while racing overseas. UAE Derby winners don’t fare well in the Kentucky Derby, but nevertheless, Thunder Snow is an interesting long-shot this evening.