2017 Kentucky Derby

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143rd Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
2017 Kentucky Derby logo.jpg
The 143rd "Run for the Roses"
Location Churchill Downs
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Date May 6, 2017 (2017-05-06)
Winning horse Always Dreaming
Winning time 2:03.59
Jockey John Velazquez
Trainer Todd Pletcher
Owner MeB Racing Stables, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola Racing Stable, St. Elias Stable, Siena Farm & West Point Thoroughbreds
Conditions Wet Fast (sealed)[1]
Surface Dirt
Attendance 158,070
← 2016
2018 →

The 2017 Kentucky Derby (in full, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, due to sponsorship[1]) was the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, and took place on Saturday, May 6, 2017.[2] The Kentucky Derby is a horse race held each year in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in May, at the end of the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. It is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds at a distance of 1 14 miles (2.0 km), and has been run at Churchill Downs racetrack since its inception in 1875.[3] The race was broadcast by NBC with a scheduled post time of 6:34 PM ET.[4] The race went off at 6:52 PM ET[1] before a crowd of 158,070[5] and a television TAD of 16.5 million viewers.[6] The winner was the post-time favorite, Always Dreaming.[1]


The field for the Kentucky Derby was limited to twenty horses who qualified based on points earned in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of races that was first introduced in 2013.[7] Girvin was the top point-earner in 2017 after winning both the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby.[8] Classic Empire, who was the early Derby favorite after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2016, finished second in the qualifying series after overcoming several setbacks to win the Arkansas Derby.[9] The other major prep race winners were Gormley (Santa Anita Derby), Irap (Blue Grass Stakes), Irish War Cry (Wood Memorial), Always Dreaming (Florida Derby) and Thunder Snow (UAE Derby). Several other contenders did not enter due to injuries or because they raced inconsistently. For example, Not This Time was an early favorite for the Derby but was injured shortly after finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was retired from racing.[10] After an impressive win in the San Felipe Stakes, Mastery was pulled up by his jockey and was found to have a condylar fracture requiring several months to heal.[11]

For the first time, a spot in the starting gate was set aside for a horse from Japan through the separate Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Epicharis, a grandson of 1989 Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence, qualified by winning the Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on February 19.[12] However, the connections of Epicharis declined the invitation.[13]


On May 3, entries for the Derby were taken and the post position draw was streamed live by Churchill Downs.[4] After drawing post position 14, Classic Empire was installed as the lukewarm favorite on the morning line at 4–1 by Mike Battaglia.[14] Always Dreaming in post position 5 and McCraken in post position 15 were both given odds of 5–1.[15]

The entry fee is normally $25,000, but Fast and Accurate was required to pay a supplemental entry fee of $200,000 as he was not nominated to the Triple Crown earlier in the year.[16] The two "also eligible" entries were scratched when none of the qualified horses opted to withdraw before the 9 a.m. Friday deadline.[17]

Race description[edit]

When betting opened, the odds for morning line favorite Classic Empire drifted up to 6.80/1 while those for Always Dreaming drifted down to 4.70/1, making Always Dreaming the post time favorite. The track was labelled as "Wet Fast (sealed)"[1] with some standing water due to persistent rain over the course of several days. In spite of the weather, 158,070 people attended the Derby, the seventh-highest turnout in the history of the race.[18] The television broadcast drew 16.5 million viewers, the most since 18.5 million watched Sunday Silence win the 1989 Derby.[6]

The Kentucky Derby was won by Always Dreaming.

The race had a difficult start for several horses. The track conditions so disturbed Thunder Snow, who had been based in Dubai over the winter, that the horse started bucking after the race began and was pulled up.[19] The start for several other horses was poor, thought to be a "chain reaction" begun when Irish War Cry, in the 17th position, ducked to the inside at the start, pushing over number 16 Tapwrit,[20] and as a result, the 15 horse, McCracken, bumped heavily with number 14, Classic Empire.[1] "Classic Empire really got clobbered," said his trainer Mark Casse. "The track is impossible. Our horse ran extremely well, considering."[5]

From post position five, Always Dreaming avoided traffic problems with a burst of early speed, then settled into second place behind long shot State of Honor. In the first turn, jockey John R. Velazquez kept the colt along the rail then moved him to the outside of State of Honor down the backstretch. The two raced together into the far turn, where State of Honor started to fade while Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry moved up to challenge for the lead. Always Dreaming quickly responded by drawing away, opening up a lead of several lengths. Lookin At Lee, who had run along the rail for most of the race, found racing room and made a late run, but never threatened Always Dreaming, who won by ​2 34 lengths. Battle of Midway was five lengths behind in third with Classic Empire finishing fourth.[5][21]

Trainer Todd Pletcher had entered the race with one win (Super Saver in 2010) from forty-five starters over the years.[5] Although one of the most successful trainers in the history of the sport, Pletcher was relieved to get another Derby win with Always Dreaming. "To me," Pletcher said, "I felt I really needed that second one, you know?"[22]

It was also the second Derby win for Velazquez, who had previously won in 2011 with Animal Kingdom.[5] "This is the best horse Todd and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with," he said. "I got a good position early and then he relaxed. When we hit the quarter pole, I asked him and he responded. He did it himself from there."[23]

It was the first Derby win for the ownership group that included Anthony Bonomo (who owns Brooklyn Boyz Stable), his wife Mary Ellen (MeB Racing), Vincent Viola (St Elias Stable) and his wife Teresa (Teresa Viola Racing).[24] Mary Ellen Bonomo named the horse because of her tendency to daydream. "Everybody dreams of something, whether it's a big event or special day, the birth of their child, winning the Kentucky Derby. So I just said, 'Always Dreaming.' It just took off."[25]

This was the fifth consecutive Derby in which the post-time favorite won. The only other time this happened was in the late 1890s.[26]


Finish Post Horse Jockey Trainer Morning
Line Odds
Winnings Points
1 5 Always Dreaming John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 5–1 4.70 +​2 34 $1,635,800 100
2 1 Lookin At Lee Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 20–1 33.20 2 34 $400,000 32
3 11 Battle of Midway Flavien Prat Jerry Hollendorfer 30–1 40.00 7 34 $200,000 40
4 14 Classic Empire Julien Leparoux Mark Casse 4–1 6.80 8 34 $100,000 132
5 19 Practical Joke Joel Rosario Chad Brown 20–1 27.80 9 12 $60,000 74
6 16 Tapwrit Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 20–1 27.10 10 14 54
7 10 Gunnevera Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 15–1 10.00 13 14 84
8 15 McCraken Brian Hernandez Jr. Ian Wilkes 5–1 6.90 13 14 40
9 18 Gormley Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 15–1 22.30 14 14 125
10 17 Irish War Cry Rajiv Maragh H. Graham Motion 6–1 4.80 16 12 110
11 8 Hence Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 15–1 15.00 18 12 50
12 4 Untrapped Ricardo Santana Jr. Steve Asmussen 30–1 58.00 19 14 34
13 7 Girvin Mike E. Smith Joe Sharp 15–1 22.10 19 12 150
14 20 Patch Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 30–1 14.10 21 40
15 13 J Boys Echo Luis Saez Dale Romans 20–1 47.30 23 63
16 12 Sonneteer Kent Desormeaux J. Keith Desormeaux 50–1 39.70 26 14 30
17 3 Fast and Accurate Channing Hill Michael Maker 50–1 41.80 28 34 50
18 9 Irap Mario Gutierrez Doug O'Neill 20–1 41.40 40 34 113
19 6 State of Honor Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 30–1 54.00 45 34 62
DNF 2 Thunder Snow Christophe Soumillon Saeed bin Suroor 20–1 16.40 100
also eligible Royal Mo Gary Stevens John Shirreffs SCR 30
also eligible Master Plan John Velazquez Todd Pletcher SCR 30
  • Track: Wet Fast (sealed)

Times:14 mile – 0:22.70; ​12 mile – 0:46.53; ​34 mile – 1:11.12; mile – 1:37.27; final – 2:03.59.
Splits for each quarter-mile: (:22.70) (:23.83) (:24.59) (:26.15) (:26.32)

Source: Equibase chart[1]


The Kentucky Derby payout schedule[1]

Horse Name Win Place Show
5 Always Dreaming $11.40 $7.20 $5.80
1 Lookin At Lee $26.60 $15.20
11 Battle of Midway $20.80
  • $2 Exacta: (5–1) $336.20
  • $1 Trifecta: (5–1–11) $8,297.20
  • $1 Superfecta: (5–1–11–14) $75,974.50
  • $1 Super Hi 5 (Pentafecta): (5–1–11–14–19) $493,348.70

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "CHURCHILL DOWNS – May 6, 2017 – Race 12". Equibase. May 6, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "2017 Kentucky Derby & Oaks – May 5 and 6, 2017". Churchill Downs. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  3. ^ "History Of Churchill Downs". Churchill Downs. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Watch Derby on NBC". www.kentuckyderby.com. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e Angst, Frank. "Always Dreaming True in Kentucky Derby Win". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Blood-Horse staf (May 8, 2017). "Derby Telecast Viewership Largest Since 1989". BloodHorse.com. Archived from the original on May 9, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  7. ^ "About the Road to the Kentucky Derby". Churchill Downs Incorporated. 2016. Archived from the original on April 11, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Girvin Reigns in Louisiana Derby". BloodHorse.com. Archived from the original on April 2, 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  9. ^ Wincze Hughes, Alicia. "Classic Empire Delivers in Arkansas Derby". BloodHorse.com. Archived from the original on April 16, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  10. ^ "Not This Time Retired Due to Injury". BloodHorse.com. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  11. ^ Haskin, Steve. "Derby Dozen – March 14, 2017 – Presented by Shadwell Farm". cs.bloodhorse.com. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  12. ^ "Epicharis Earns Japan's Kentucky Derby Bid". BloodHorse.com. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Kentucky Derby Leaderboard – April 8 update" (PDF). www.kentuckyderby.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 9, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  14. ^ Mensching, Kurt (May 3, 2017). "Kentucky Derby 2017 odds: Morning line released". SB Nation. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  15. ^ Hammonds, Evan. "Derby Draw: Classic Empire 4–1 Choice, Draws Post 14". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  16. ^ "Nominations, Triple Crown (2017)" (PDF). www.kentuckyderby.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  17. ^ Mitchell, Ron. "Soggy Start to Oaks Day; No Derby Scratches". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  18. ^ Associated Press (May 6, 2017). "The Latest: Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby in slop". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "Bucking Thunder Snow appears to be OK, but teasing follows on Twitter". sacbee. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  20. ^ Wolken, Dan. "Always Dreaming recovers well from Derby, heads to Preakness". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on May 8, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  21. ^ "Always Dreaming becomes fifth straight favorite to win Kentucky Derby". Daily Racing Form. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  22. ^ "Always Dreaming pulls away on a soggy track to win 143rd Kentucky Derby". Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  23. ^ Cherwa, John (6 May 2017). "Always Dreaming wins the 143rd Kentucky Derby". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  24. ^ "A Derby 'Dream' Come True". www.thoroughbreddailynews.com. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  25. ^ Drape, Joe (7 May 2017). "Always Dreaming's Story Starts With 2 Brooklyn Boys' Trips to the Track". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  26. ^ McGee, Marty (May 6, 2017). "Always Dreaming fifth straight favorite to win Derby". Daily Racing Form. ESPN.com. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017.