Kentucky Derby 2017: Our guide and tips on America’s big race

The Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest races in the world, and one of the biggest sporting events in the American calendar. Ridden over 1m2f on the dirt, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky plays host to the event.

The dreaded car park, key facts to keep an eye on.

The 2016 running of the Kentucky Derby, video from Kentucky Derby YouTube channel

The draw plays an integral role in shaping the Derby and stall numbers 18-20 are huge negatives in the race. Whilst being drawn right on the rail in stall one has also proved difficult.

The best draw in recent years is number five and number ten, these have produced nine winners. The ideal place to be between stalls two and ten.

Favourites have a brilliant record in the race with around one third of them victorious in the ‘run for the roses’.

A first Foreign winner? – Thunder Snow the sole British runner


Thunder Snow was first past the post in Dubai last time out.

Suprisingly the Kentucky Derby has never been won by a horse trained outside the USA, the closest any have got is Clive Brittain’s Ferdinand who was a runner up in 1986.

Newmarket-based Saeed Bin Surror is represented by Thunder Snow who was last seen winning the UAE Derby in Dubai.

The three-year-old has already won at Group One level, he was a strong winner of the Criterium International in France in his juvenile season. Popular French jockey Christophe Soumillon takes the ride.

“I am very excited. I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time – to bring a horse with a big chance to run in the greatest race in America,” Bin Suroor told Godolphin’s website.

“Thunder Snow is a tough horse with a lot of class, which you need because the Kentucky Derby is a very, very tough race.

“He has arrived fresh and healthy and I am very happy with him. Ideally, I would like him to take a good position, close to the pace and away from the kickback.”

Pletcher’s Parade – One eyed Patch has grasped the heart of the USA



Pletcher has won the Kentucky Derby once with Super Saver in 2010, seen here leading the field.

Todd Pletcher has the most notable list of runners, the big name being Patch who would prove one of the most popular of the 143rd list of winners in the Kentucky Derby.

Todd Pletcher’s three-year-old is missing an eye on his left hand side, but may have a chance after finishing second in the Grade Two Louisiana Derby last time out.

He is one of three runners for the New York-based handler, who also saddles the favourite Always Dreaming.

The three-year-old has won all three starts for Pletcher and was impressive when landing the Grade One Florida Derby by five lengths last time out. He looks set to play a leading role.

Tapwrit is Pletcher’s third chance, he was unlucky when fifth in the Grade Two Blue Glass Stakes in his prep run.

Casse hoping for to add Classic to his empire


Can Classic Empire land the big race?

Mark Casse is most known in the UK after saddling the brilliant Tepin to win the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last season.

He is one of North America’s leading trainers, but has yet to claim the Kentucky Derby.

The Canadian-born trainer is represented by Classic Empire, who has won both starts in Louisville.

His Breeders’ Cup victory makes him a leading player, and he was a good winner of the Arkansas Derby on his last start.

Our prediction

Always Dreaming 5/1
Classic Empire 6/1
Irish War Cry 8/1
McCracken 8/1
Hence 16/1
Thunder Snow 16/1
Girvin 18/1
Gormley 20/1
Practical Joke 20/1
Irap 22/1
Tapwrit 25/1
Battle Of Midway 33/1
J Boys Echo 33/1
Lookin’ At Lee 33/1
Stae Of Honor 33/1
Sonneteer 40/1
Patch 50/1
Untrapped 50/1
Fast And Accurate 66/1

I have to like Always Dreaming, his Florida Derby success was outstanding and he should be fine with a quicker run race.

He looks really classy and a proper type to go and win at the highest level.

A strong each-way fancy has to be Tapwrit who was a really impressive Grade Two winner on his penultimate start.

Last time things just all went against him, he found traffic, and raced wide so eventually finished fifth.

I’m drawing a line through that run, and expecting a much stronger show this evening.

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