November 30, 2023

Get to know the 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders

May 3 update: The field for Derby 143 has been drawn! The horses are still listed here in order of their Derby points, with post positions and morning line odds added.


As the build-up to the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1) reaches fever pitch, it’s time to cram on the contenders for America’s iconic race.

In addition to free Kentucky Derby past performances courtesy of Brisnet, here is a handy reference page for the top 20 contenders who have accumulated the most Derby points. Next come the nearest “bubble” horses hoping for defection(s) so they can draw into the field.

Each horse’s highlights and connections are listed, along with links to related news/features and work videos. Note that the works page is in progress, so if a contender doesn’t have an associated video yet, check back for updates.

Now, let’s help find your Derby horse!


Girvin was king of the Fair Grounds (Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir)

GIRVIN (150 points), Post 7, 15-1

Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star (G2) winner tops the leaderboard.

Owner: Brad Grady, Trainer: Joe Sharp, Jockey: Mike Smith

Pedigree: by Tale of Ekati—Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon

Girvin news and work videos


Classic Empire was back on song in the Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

CLASSIC EMPIRE (132 points), Post 14, 4-1

Last year’s juvenile champion may be favored after rebounding in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

Owner: John Oxley, Trainer: Mark Casse, Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Pedigree: by Pioneerof the Mile—Sambuca Classica, by Cat Thief

Classic Empire news and work videos


Gormley worked six furlongs in 1:15.80 at Santa Anita under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado on  April 22 (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/

GORMLEY (125 points), Post 18, 15-1

Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner previously captured the FrontRunner (G1) and Sham (G3).

Owner: Jerry and Ann Moss, Trainer: John Shirreffs, Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Pedigree: by Malibu Moon—Race to Urga, by Bernstein

Gormley news and work videos


Irap won the Blue Grass (c) Keeneland/Coady Photography

IRAP (113 points), Post 9, 20-1

Stakes veteran finally broke his maiden in the Blue Grass (G2).

Owner: Reddam Racing, Trainer: Doug O’Neill, Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Pedigree: by Tiznow—Silken Cat, by Storm Cat

Irap news and work videos



Irish War Cry was much the best in New York’s leading Kentucky Derby prep (Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

IRISH WAR CRY (110 points), Post 17, 6-1

Holy Bull (G2) winner bounced back to dominate the Wood Memorial (G2).

Owner: Isabelle de Tomaso, Trainer: Graham Motion, Jockey: Rajiv Maragh

Pedigree: by Curlin—Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers

Irish War Cry news and work videos



Thunder Snow (left) nips Epicharis to win the UAE Derby and 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby (Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins)

THUNDER SNOW (100 points), Post 2, 20-1

UAE Derby (G2) hero seeks to give global power Godolphin a first Kentucky Derby.

Owner: Godolphin, Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor, Jockey: Christophe Soumillon

Pedigree: by Helmet—Eastern Joy, by Dubai Destination

Thunder Snow news and work videos



Always Dreaming wins Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park with John Velazquez (c) Kenny Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography

ALWAYS DREAMING (100 points), Post 5, 5-1

Resounding Florida Derby (G1) winner will likely vie for favoritism with Classic Empire.

Owner: Brooklyn Boyz Stables & Viola et al, Trainer: Todd Pletcher, Jockey: John Velazquez

Pedigree: by Bodemeister—Above Perfection, by In Excess

Always Dreaming news and work videos



Gunnevera winning the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on March 4 (C) Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography

GUNNEVERA (84 points), Post 10, 15-1

Fountain of Youth (G2) and Delta Jackpot (G3) winner exits a third in the Florida Derby.

Owner: Peacock Stables, Trainer: Antonio Sano, Jockey: Javier Castellano

Pedigree: by Dialed In—Unbridled Rage, by Unbridled

Gunnevera news and work videos




Practical Joke scored his second Grade 1 win in the Champagne at Belmont Park (NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher)

PRACTICAL JOKE (74 points), Post 19, 20-1

Dual Grade 1-winning juvenile was second in both the Fountain of Youth and Blue Grass.

Owner: Klaravich Stables & William Lawrence, Trainer: Chad Brown, Jockey: Joel Rosario

Pedigree: by Into Mischief—Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor

Practical Joke news and work videos


J Boys Echo easily pulled away in the Gotham to earn his first stakes victory (c) NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography

J BOYS ECHO (63 points), Post 13, 20-1

Gotham (G3) victor came back to finish fourth in the Blue Grass.

Owner: Albaugh Family Stable, Trainer: Dale Romans, Jockey: Luis Saez

Pedigree: by Mineshaft—Letgomyecho, by Menifee

J Boys Echo news and work videos



State of Honor ran second in the Mucho Macho Man  Gulfstream Park on  January 7 (c) Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography

STATE OF HONOR (62 points), Post 6, 30-1

Florida Derby runner-up had previously placed in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Sam F. Davis (G3).

Owner: Conrad Farms, Trainer: Mark Casse, Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Pedigree: by To Honor and Serve—State Cup, by Elusive Quality

State of Honor news and work videos



Tapwrit cemented a position in the Kentucky Derby starting gate with his win in the Tampa Bay Derby (SV Photography)

TAPWRIT (54 points), Post 16, 20-1

Tampa Bay Derby hero aims to improve off a fifth in the Blue Grass.

Owner: Bridlewood/Eclipse TB/La Penta, Trainer: Todd Pletcher, Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Pedigree: by Tapit—Appealing Zophie, by Successful Appeal

Tapwrit news and work videos




Hence winning the Sunland Derby (c) Sunland Park/Coady Photography

HENCE (50 points), Post 8, 15-1

Sunland Derby (G3) winner has been flattered by how his beaten rivals have performed since.

Owner: Calumet Farm, Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Jockey: Florent Geroux

Pedigree: by Street Boss—Floating Island, by A.P. Indy

Hence news and work videos



Fast and Accurate held off all comers in the Spiral (Holly M. Smith Photo)

FAST AND ACCURATE (50 points), Post 3, 50-1

The winner of the Spiral (G3) over Turfway’s Polytrack must prove himself on dirt.

Owner: Kendall Hansen & Skychai et al, Trainer: Mike Maker, Jockey: Channing Hill

Pedigree: by Hansen—It’s Heidi’s Dance, by Green Dancer

Fast and Accurate news and work videos


McCraken won all three juvenile starts at Churchill Downs, including his first stakes victory in the Street Sense (c) Coady Photo

MCCRAKEN (40 points), Post 15, 5-1

Unbeaten through Sam F. Davis but minor setback shuffled plans and led to third in Blue Grass.

Owner: Whitham Thoroughbreds, Trainer: Ian Wilkes, Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Pedigree: by Ghostzapper—Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold

McCraken news and work videos


Battle of Midway, right, was just collared by Gormley in the Santa Anita Derby
©Benoit Photo

BATTLE OF MIDWAY (40 points), Post 11, 30-1

Late developer earned his way in with hard-fought second in Santa Anita Derby.

Owner: Don Alberto Stable & WinStar Farm, Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer, Jockey: Flavien Prat

Pedigree: by Smart Strike—Rigoletta, by Concerto

Battle of Midway news and work videos




Patch chilling in his stall (Vance Hanson)

PATCH (40 points), Post 20, 30-1

Missed juvenile season after losing an eye but making up for lost time with second in Louisiana Derby.

Owner: Calumet Farm, Trainer: Todd Pletcher, Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Pedigree: by Union Rags—Windyindy, by A.P. Indy

Patch news and work videos



Untrapped working out in March (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

UNTRAPPED (34 points), Post 4, 30-1

Rebel, Risen Star, and Lecomte placegetter must do better than his sixth in the Arkansas Derby.

Owner: Michael Langford, Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Pedigree: by Trappe Shot—Exit Three, by Giant’s Causeway

Untrapped news and work videos


LOOKIN AT LEE (32 points), Post 1, 20-1

Deep closer has racked up several minor awards, most recently a tough-trip third in the Arkansas Derby.

Owner: L & N Racing, Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Pedigree: by Lookin at Lucky—Langara Lass, by Langfuhr

Lookin at Lee news and work videos


SONNETEER (30 points), Post 12, 50-1

Still a maiden but a rallying second in the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby.

Owner: Calumet Farm, Trainer: Keith Desormeaux, Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Pedigree: by Midnight Lute—Ours, by Half Ours

Sonneteer news and work videos



Scratch time for the Derby is Friday at 9 a.m. (EDT), so the two on the outside looking in need defection(s) by then to get into the gate.


ROYAL MO (30 points), 20-1

Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner comes off a valiant third in the Santa Anita Derby.

Owner: Jerry and Ann Moss, Trainer: John Shirreffs, Jockey: Gary Stevens

Pedigree: Uncle Mo—Royal Irish Lass, by Saint Ballado

Royal Mo news and work videos



MASTER PLAN (20 points), 50-1

OBS Championship scorer shipped to Dubai and finished third in the UAE Derby

Owner: Al Shaqab/WinStar/China Horse Club, Trainer: Todd Pletcher, Jockey: TBA

Pedigree: Twirling Candy–Sage Mist, by Henny Hughes

Master Plan news and work videos


The complete Kentucky Derby field in post order is available here.

6 Comments on Get to know the 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders

  1. Looks like a great field for the derby. I like Always dreaming, & Girvin, & Gormley for the trifecta. We’ll have to see exactly who makes the cut. Good luck to all.

  2. Good derby field.l like Gunnevera,Always dreaming and Classic Empire, long shot for the super JboysEcho.

  3. My 5 top picks are Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, Girvin, Gunnevera, and Hence.
    I hate to dismiss Malagacy, so I will use him. I think if he paces himself and runs just off the pace, he has a real good shot at hitting the board.
    Patch, Lookin At Lee, and Sonneteer could come late and get in the superfecta.

    The rest of them are distance challenged if you ask me. I’d like McCraken and Irish War Cry if it was a mile and an eighth race.

    • I’m with you, Donald, on my picks. I like Classis Empire, Girvin and Gunnereva….sounds like a good tri to me! Think I’ll place an early bet. Hmmmmm……

    • See our upcoming story on Girvin’s status — battling a quarter-crack, according to DRF & Blood-Horse, but trainer Joe Sharp still hopes to make the Derby.

Comments are closed.