The 2017 Kentucky Derby is setting up as one of the most unpredictable in recent history. Today’s morning line saw four horses open between 4/1 and 6/1. Classic Empire (4/1) is the early favorite with Always Dreaming (5/1), McCraken (5/1), and Irish War Cry (6/1) close behind. That quartet represents the clear upper-crust of this year’s race, with no other horse shorter than 15/1 at the moment.
Given their decent post positions, what I wrote about Always Dreaming (gate 5) and Irish War Cry (gate 17) earlier this week still holds true; the pace will likely play into their preferred racing style. Same goes for Gunnevera (15/1; gate 10), who happens to be ridden by Javier Castellano, winner of four-straight Outstanding Jockey awards.
But today isn’t about breaking down the race, itself. Since we’re dealing with the Super Bowl of horse racing, we need to devote some time to auxiliary prop bets, both common and crazy.
It’s just too bad there’s no tradition of dumping Gatorade on the winning horse. I’m sure you could get decent odds if you bet that it would actually be a giant vat of mint julep.
2017 Kentucky Derby Odds & Props
Odds any horse wins the 2017 Triple Crown: 13/2
Everyone remembers American Pharoah breaking the Triple-Crown drought in 2015, but only 12 horses have ever accomplished the feat, and eight of those were pre-1950. There’s so much fierce competition in this era. It takes something of a super-horse, and finding one in this year’s field is unlikely.
O/U margin of victory: 1 ½ lengths
Over the last ten years, the average MOV is just over three lengths, but that’s boosted by a couple anomalies: a 6 3/4-length win by Mine That Bird (2009) and an eight-length win by Big Brown (2008). Only two of the last five Derbies have been won by more than 1 ½ lengths, and with four legitimate co-favorites in this year’s field, another tight finish should be in the cards.
Odds a horse will scratch: 2/3
Lookin at Lee is a decent bet. He drew gate 1, which is essentially a death sentence.
Over/under on TV Viewership: 15.5 million
Odds that the winning owner is a former winner: 5/2
Of the four favorites, only Classic Empire is owned by a former winner (John C. Oxley). Always Dreaming (Brooklyn Boys Stable), McCraken (Whitman Thoroughbreds LLC), and Irish War Cry (Isabelle de Tomaso) would all bring their owners their first ever win.
Calumet Farm has three horses in the mix — 15/1 Hence, 30/1 Patch, and 50/1 Sonneteer — and eight Derby victories to its name, but none since 1968. The other former winners are Reddam Racing (20/1 Irap) and Mr. & Mrs. Jerome S. Moss (15/1 Gormley).
Odds that the winning jockey is a former winner: 5/2
Like with the owners, only one of the four favorites will be mounted by a former winner: Always Dreaming (John Velazquez). Victor Espinoza, the 2014 and 2015 winner, is the next best bet, riding Gormley (15/1). Three-time winner Kent Desormeaux is aboard longshot Sonneteer (50/1).
Odds that _________ is higher than the odds of the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner
the total number of losses for the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA playoffs: 17/3
The Warriors lost eight games in the playoffs last year, when they didn’t even win the title. They’re five-for-five so far and look unstoppable as long as KD is healthy. Unless you guarantee me that the victor will go off at 4/1 or lower, I’d take the odds on the Derby winner being higher.
the total number of wins for the Cleveland Browns in the 2017 NFL season: 4/1
Finally taking their rebuild seriously (i.e. slowly), the Browns have stockpiled young talent in the last two drafts. Soon, they’ll be a real, live boy! Soon isn’t now, though. They still don’t have a QB, after all. If the 2017 Browns crack four wins, I’ll be stunned.
the total number of TDs thrown by Mitch Trubisky (Chicago Bears) in the 2017 NFL season: 2/3
It’s hard to say whether Trubisky is going to get the requisite snaps to win this one. The Bears just paid an exorbitant amount of money to bring in veteran Mike Glennon. They have to give him a shot, right? But they also just spent an exorbitant amount of draft capital to get Trubisky at no. 2 in the draft. They have to give their new franchise pivot a vote of confidence, right? (In case you can’t read between the lines, I don’t know!)
Last year’s best rookie QBs, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, had 23 TDs and 16 TDs respectively. Cody Kessler had six.
the total number of starts for Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants) in the 2017 MLB season: 2/3
After just four starts in 2017, Mad-Bum suffered a grade 2 shoulder sprain in a dirt bike crash. He’ll be out until at least the All-Star Break. He’s been a beast in terms of durability during his entire career, making 30-plus starts in six straight seasons. But if the 10-18 Giants keep playing like they’ve been playing (i.e. terribly) there won’t be any reason to rush the ace back until everything is perfect.
Odds the margin of victory is greater than the number of months before Donald Trump starts a war with North Korea: 9/1
Please, oh please, let this one go chalk.