We’re one month away from The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. The 2017 Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday of every May, and this year it’s falling on May 6 at Churchill Downs. Online betting for the Derby is already available at Bovada Racebook, and this year, there isn’t one thoroughbred who’s separated himself from the pack. The favorite on the Kentucky Derby futures market at press time is McCraken at 6/1, followed closely by Tapwrit and Always Dreaming at 7/1.

It’s going to take a while just to sort out who gets invited. Up to 20 horses can participate in the Run for the Roses; it’s up to how many points they score on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and because of a series of injuries and mishaps, some quality horses are going to end up on the outside looking in. Not This Time, an early Derby favorite, retired to stud in November after suffering soft tissue damage in his right front leg. Mastery, undefeated after four races, is off the Triple Crown Trail following a condylar fracture.

Equine Therapist

McCraken might not make it to Louisville, either. Also undefeated after four races, the beautiful bay colt suffered a “very minor” injury to his left front ankle on February 28 during a training session, and was forced to miss the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. That leaves McCraken tied for 17th on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, one of seven horses with 20 points each. Good news, though: McCraken is entered in this Saturday’s Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, one of the major Championship Series prep races for the Derby, with 100 points going to the winner.

Also in question for the Derby is last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion: Classic Empire. He’s 14th in the points standings after being diagnosed with an abscess on his right front hoof, following his third-place finish at the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes back on February 4. He was slow to heal from that injury, then began showing discomfort in his back and refused to breeze on a couple of occasions. However, Classic Empire is pointed at the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 15, so perhaps everything will work out fine – in which case, the reigning American champion 2-year-old looks like a bargain at 12/1 odds to win the biggest event on the horse racing calendar.


*Odds as of April 6, 2017