The Kentucky Derby is already difficult to predict as it is a unique experience for all of the horses competing. Not only is the race longer than most horses have run, it is also a much larger spectacle than any of them have competed in.
The 2017 race could throw other variables into play: rain and mud. AccuWeather is calling for wet conditions by the race post time of 6:46 p.m. Eastern. It is difficult to know until race time what the conditions will be, but Heavy is here to have you prepared if the track conditions turn out to be less than ideal.
As the video below shows, Classic Empire has experience in the mud at Churchill Downs. He won on a mud track at the same venue in May 2016:
This explains why Casse Racing, where Classic Empire trained, retweeted this tweet indicating the team believes a wet track would favor the horse.
Classic Empire started the week as the favorite and has since moved down to second in the odds. The horse refused to train at times in the months leading up to the Derby and battled injuries during Derby prep season.
Another reason to like Classic Empire on a wet track is what he showed at the Arkansas Derby. The horse was stuck in the middle of the pack then battled back to get a comeback victory. While the conditions were different, you want to look for a horse that has a track record of battling through adversity.
Gormley is another horse with experience running in the mud. He won the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in January in less than ideal conditions. This video shows Gormley winning in about as close of a race as you can get.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux dominated the 2016 season in the mud with Exaggerator. Desormeaux is on a different horse this time around but will bring that experience with him as he saddles Sonneteer. Here’s Desormeaux guiding Exaggerator to victory in the 2016 Preakness.
According to NJ.com, McCraken won the 2016 Jockey Club Stakes on a sloppy track. On the highlights below you can see glimpses of the track but the conditions were not nearly as bad as some of the others discussed earlier. McCraken also has the benefit of being undefeated at Churchill Downs.
Tapwrit won the Pulpit Stakes in the mud at Gulfstream in December 2016 and will be another horse to watch if the conditions get bad. He also offers great value at seventh in the odds.
Overall, Heavy likes Always Dreaming, Irish War Cry and Hence as our top three picks. If things turn nasty, we would go with McCraken, Classic Empire and Tapwrit on a mud track.
Heavy’s Pick Normal Conditions: 1. Always Dreaming 2. Irish War Cry 3. Hence
Heavy’s Pick Muddy Track: 1. McCraken 2. Classic Empire 3. Tapwrit