Kentucky Derby Futures: Closing Odds as Derby Day Nears

Classic Empire (left) and Always Dreaming are the top two future betting choices for the May 6 Kentucky Derby in the Las Vegas books. (Eclipse Sportswire)

One of the most exciting pit stops on the Road to the Triple Crown involves laying down some cash on a futures pick for the 2017 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. Over the past several weeks, America’s Best Racing has brought you up to date with the changing odds and new entries at two of the main Kentucky Derby future wager bookmakers in Las Vegas – the books at Wynn Las Vegas and William Hill.

Now, both sports books have pared down their listings and adjusted their odds after the last round of prep races concluded April 15. Here’s a rundown of the final changes in the Derby futures as the odds for many of the main contenders line up approximately with the expected morning-line odds to be announced Derby week by Mike Battaglia at Churchill Downs. In addition to individual future bets, Wynn and William Hill offer prop bets on whether a horse will sweep the Triple Crown, and Wynn also offers prop bets on the official winning time in the Derby, the Derby winner’s mutuel payout, and whether a horse will win two of the three Triple Crown races.

Be sure to tune into SB Nation Radio this Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern for this week’s “Winner’s Circle” podcast with host Bram Weinstein, where his guest will be John Avello, director of the race and sports book at Wynn Las Vegas.

April 20 Odds Leaders:


1) Classic Empire (5-1)

2) Always Dreaming (6-1)

3) Irish War Cry (7-1)

4) Girvin (8-1)

4) McCraken (8-1)

5) Gunnevera (10-1)

William Hill:

1) Classic Empire (5-1)

2) Always Dreaming (6-1)

3) Irish War Cry (8-1)

3) McCraken (8-1)

4) Gunnevera (9-1)

5) Practical Joke (12-1)

April 20 Notable Changes:

Classic Empire: Odds dropped from 12-1 to 5-1 favoritism at Wynn following his rallying win in the April 15 Arkansas Derby. His odds slipped less at William Hill, from 8-1 to 5-1, and Mike Battaglia said that last year’s 2-year-old champion male probably will be the morning-line favorite for Derby 143 after post positions are drawn on May 3.

Gormley: The Santa Anita Derby winner saw his future odds drop from 40-1 to 12-1 at Wynn, and from 30-1 to 20-1 at William Hill. He might be one of two John Shirreffs-trained runners in the Kentucky Derby, along with Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher Royal Mo, who currently is ranked 24th on the Road to the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard (see below).

Irap: His odds plummeted from 125-1 to 35-1 at Wynn, and he was added back to William Hill’s book at the same 35-1 odds following his 31.30-1 upset win in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. He’ll be carrying the Paul Reddam-Doug O’Neill banner back to Churchill Downs as the California duo aim to take down their third Derby in six years following I’ll Have Another’s win in 2012 and Nyquist’s win last year.

Irish War Cry: Another leading contender whose odds dropped after a standout prep performance, he’s now listed at 7-1 odds by Wynn, down from 25-1, and at 8-1 odds by William Hill, also down from 25-1. The Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets winner should be one of about three or four horses that will vie for post-time favoritism in the Derby, along with Classic Empire, Always Dreaming, and McCraken.

Lookin At Lee: The late-closing third-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby currently sits at 22nd on the Derby points leaderboard, so he will need some help to get in the field. But his sneaky-good performance at Oaklawn Park caused his futures odds to drop from 75-1 to 40-1 at Wynn and from 75-1 to 30-1 at William Hill.

Battle of Midway: Ran a game second in the Santa Anita Derby after contesting the pace throughout, and his odds have adjusted accordingly, dropping from 40-1 to 30-1 at Wynn and from 40-1 to 20-1 at William Hill. That was a nice bounce-back effort against stakes competition for the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee after he finished a well-beaten third in the San Vicente Stakes back in February. He figures to be a major pace player in the Kentucky Derby.

Fast and Accurate: After being supplemented to the Kentucky Derby by owner Kendall Hansen, the JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes winner saw his odds adjusted down from 150-1 to 60-1 by William Hill (they remained at 75-1 at Wynn). He’ll be another pace factor if his synthetic and turf form can translate to Churchill Downs’ dirt track.

Hence: The Sunland Derby winner is shaping up to be this year’s “buzz horse” among the backstretch cognoscenti as Derby week commences, which may not be a good thing for his chances. Nevertheless, his odds dropped from 50-1 to 30-1 at William Hill while staying steady at 40-1 on Wynn’s sheet. He’s posted very good workouts at Churchill Downs over the past couple of weeks for trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm.

Royal Mo: As mentioned above, he will need defections to make the Derby field, but if he does, he’ll be another pace presence in what could be a cavalry charge through the first turn – especially if Gary Stevens retains the mount. His odds were halved from 60-1 to 30-1 at Wynn and dropped even more at William Hill, from 100-1 to 30-1.

Thunder Snow: The United Arab Emirates Derby winner’s odds dropped from 40-1 to 18-1 at William Hill, but moved up slightly from 20-1 to 25-1 at Wynn. No decision has been announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum as of April 20 about whether he’ll make the trip to Kentucky.

Master Plan: Ranked 26th on the points leaderboard with 20, he returns to Wynn’s sheet at 100-1 odds on the very slight chance that a) there are enough defections to open up a spot for him; and b) trainer Todd Pletcher and his ownership group feel that he’s up to the task. He’s won two of five career starts and most recently closed to finish third behind Thunder Snow and Epicharis in the UAE Derby.

Senior Investment: He’s even a longer shot than Master Plan to make the Derby field, as he has only 10 qualifying points earned with his win in the April 15 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes. Still, he was added back to Wynn’s book at odds of 125-1.

Conquest Mo Money: After his game runner-up finish to Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby, this well-bred colt took in a lot of futures money in Vegas, to the point where his odds dropped from 200-1 to 30-1 at Wynn and he was added back to William Hill’s sheet at 40-1 odds. However, this week his Sunland Park-based connections decided to bypass the Kentucky Derby, and will instead point their charge to the May 20 Preakness Stakes.

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