By Kevin Martin
Irish War Cry is my pick to win the 2017 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs this Saturday. Of the twenty horses, he is the sole entry with two superior performances on his record this year. Those wins came in the Holy Bull Stakes in Florida and the Wood Memorial in New York. He also ran an inexplicably poor race in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, but that can be forgiven considering his otherwise stellar run in four of his five career races.
Irish War Cry will be only the third Derby starter since 2011 for his trainer Graham Motion. Motion won the race in 2011 with Animal Kingdom and finished fourth in 2012 with Went the Day Well. Irish War Cry’s sire, Curlin, won five times at the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles. Had he run better in the Fountain of Youth, he’d be the clear favorite on Saturday, yet with that blemish on his otherwise perfect record his backers could get a generous 5-to-1 odds on him in the win pool. Therefore, I’ll use the majority of my $100 bankroll on a $70 win ticket on Irish War Cry.
I’ll use the remaining $30 of my bankroll and cast a wide net with an exacta box that will include Irish War Cry with five other horses. In an exacta, you pick the the first and second finishers in the race. You can play it straight which requires you to pick the exact order or you can box your selections which means they can finish in any order. Boxing six horses has 30 possible combinations so the bet on $1 would equal $30 ($1 for each of the 30 possible winning outcomes).
The five colts I will include on my exacta ticket are Gunnevera, Tapwrit, McCraken, Classic Empire, and J Boys Echo. All five of these runners have a race in their past performance that shows they have the talent to win the Derby. Add to that, they have positive signs in their pedigree to indicate they can handle the long 1 1/4 mile distance. McCraken and Classic Empire will likely be among the top four betting choices, the other three will likely be 15-to-1 or higher.
The one potential favorite I am taking a stand against is Always Dreaming. I have three primary reasons for doing so: his lack of graded stakes experience, a trainer with a history of bad Derby luck, and reports from people on the scene at Churchill that he has been hard to handle during morning workouts. I wouldn’t be shocked if he wins but I think he is a play against.
How to place the bet
When it comes to placing the wagers proposed here, it requires some knowledge in the language of betting on horse races. When placing a bet with a live teller at a racetrack or at an off-track betting facility, you need to use the track name, race number, type and amount of the bet, and the program number(s) for the horse(s) you are playing.
Let’s start with the easy one, $70 to win on Irish War Cry, ask for it like this:
“Churchill Downs race 12, $70 to win on the 17.” The Kentucky Derby is the 12th race at Churchill Downs on Saturday and Irish War Cry is horse #17 in the program.
To box Irish War Cry (17), Gunnevera (10), J Boys Echo (13), Classic Empire (14), McCraken (15), and Tapwrit (16) in a $1 exacta box, ask for the following:
“Churchill Downs race 12, $1 exacta box on the 10, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.” Total cost of this bet is $30.
For a rundown of the average payouts on Kentucky Derby pools, check out Hello Race Fans.