We are now well along the road to the Kentucky Derby and with just five weeks until the big race some heavyweight contenders are emerging. Here we examine some of the current front runners and assess their chances of seizing the biggest prize in horse racing:
Check the horse racing odds at 5Dimes and you will see that McCracken has been made outright favorite by a considerable stretch. With just 20 eligibility points, he is way down the list, but he certainly has the talent to qualify with ease and make a big splash. He is unbeaten in four starts and three of them were at Churchill Downs. We will get a better idea of how good he is when he runs in the Bluegrass Stakes in a week’s time.
The 12/1 second favorite finished second to Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull Stakes, and finished second behind Classic Empire in the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes in August last year, but is enjoying a strong season and won the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes in his last start, gaining revenge over Irish War Cry, who finished seventh. Gunnevera is second in the point standings, with 64, and could be dangerous, but at those odds it looks risky right now.
J Boys Echo
The 16/1 third favorite has already lost out to Gunnevera, and could only finish third in a Grade III race in February, but showed strong form in winning the Gotham Stakes in early March with a six-length win over El Areeb. One to keep an eye on, but not an attractive price just yet.
This 16/1 shot has won all three of his races so far, but has yet to be tested at anything tougher than a Grade III race. He is expected to compete in the Grade II Wood Memorial Stakes on April 8, so we will know more by then, but you could steal a march by taking those odds now. He is a Bay Son of Into Mischief and is tipped for big things, but has not been seen yet at anywhere close to his full potential.
Classic Empire was favorite at one time for the Kentucky Derby but finished third to Irish War Cry and Gunnevera has sent him out to 20/1. He has, however, won all of his other races, amassed an impressive $1,493,820 in prize money, and gained 32 eligibility points for the Derby. This might be a good time to back Classic Empire: he was the 2016 champion juvenile male and has huge potential, and only struggled this year due to a couple of niggling injuries in his back and foot. He is reported to be on the mend and is heading for the Arkansas Derby. If he puts in a good showing there, the odds could come tumbling down.
Malagacy, the son of Shackleford and Classiest Gem, beat the heavily favored American Anthem to win the Rebel Stakes and earn 50 eligibility points. He was cut to 20/1 and that still looks a good price on a very strong runner before he goes head to head with Classic Empire in Arkansas.
Thunder Snow shot to the top of the point rankings by winning the 100-point, $2 million Group 2 United Arab Emirates Derby. He is part of the Godolphin stable owned by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. He has won at Group 1 in the UK and made a seamless transition from grass to dirt in the UAE. He has bags of pace and great pedigree, but no UAE Derby winner has ever finished better than fifth in the Kentucky Derby, so history is against him. You might look for him to place or be part of any trifecta bets.
Irish War Cry
He finished a disappointing seventh in the Fountain of Youth, but has already beaten Gunnevera and Classic Empire and he had great pedigree, so he looks an interesting long shot at 25/1.