A Cat’s 2017 Kentucky Derby Picks

By Adele

It’s that time again! The 143rd Run for the Roses gets underway Saturday, May 6, on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET, with post time at 6:34. This kitty will be cheering for my favorites, although I confess that, during my research, no horse really jumped out and grabbed me from the full field of 20.

Classic Empire is the humans’ favorite (odds 4-1, post position 14) under jockey Julien Leparoux. On February 4, he ran 3rd after his Derby competitors Irish War Cry and Gunnevera, but it was discovered post-race that Classic Empire had a foot abscess, so his loss may have been a fluke.

He does come well-connected. His father is Pioneer of the Nile, who finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and his big brother is American Pharoah, who ended the 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont in 2015. Classic has run six previous races and won them all except his one 3rd-place finish, so I can see why hopes are high for him. But you know me. I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Classic last ran on April 15, so he may be a little tired.

Another big human favorite is Irish War Cry (odds 6-1, pp 17). He’s a son of Curlin, who was named Horse of the Year in 2007 AND 2007 (much to Big Brown’s disgust). His jockey is Rajiv Maragh, and he’s won two of his three previous races, but lost by 21 lengths to Gunnevera in the only race he ever blew.

Now, on to MY favorites. I’m not too picky about the order they cross the finish line, but I want their dust to be what the other 17 eat…

Tapwrit (odds 20-1, pp 16) I like just because. He’s trained by Todd Pletcher and won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. But he ran 5th in his most recent race on April 8. His jockey is Jose Ortiz. His father is Tapit, who ran 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. I know this pick seems totally wacko, but just trust me. I have a feeling.

Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 10), who already has a history of messing with many of his Derby competitors, is another one I’m watching. He’s run 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in four of his five previous races, winning most recently on March 4. His jockey is Javier Castellano.

And my solid favorite is Patch (odds 30-1, pp 20) because he’s the serious underdog. Another Pletcher horse, Patch injured and lost his left eye in a mysterious stable accident he’s never explained. He’s running on the far outside, so all the other horses will be on his blind side. Will that give him greater concentration, or will he bump into somebody as his jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, tries to maneuver him closer to the rail?

Patch’s father is Union Rags, winner of the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Patch has won only one race in his previous three, but came in a close 2nd April 1 at the Louisiana Derby, so there’s hope.

The Kentucky Derby is always the most exciting race of the Triple Crown because ANY horse has a shot at glory, so my tail is fluffed with anticipation. As always, we at Cats Working wish all the horses to be healthy and happy on race day and cross the finish line safely.

9 Responses to A Cat’s 2017 Kentucky Derby Picks

  1. Bacardi1 says:

    For those of you who have cable or satellite, the NBC Sports channel (NBCS) does a live pre-Derby show from Churchill Downs starting at 12 noon (EST), after which one switches over to regular NBC for the big race itself. Always fun to watch.

    While my heart (& some money) will be for underdog “Patch”, I may also throw a few bucks towards “Classic Empire” & “Irish War Cry”.

  2. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, article in today’s paper echoed me, saying there is really no clear favorite, so anybody’s guess is good.

    For the record, we never bet on any horse. We just like to watch them run. I think they are the only pure athletes in sports. They can’t be bribed and they don’t throw races. If humans don’t drug them or otherwise sabotage them, they just do their thing.

    Oh, and a race is only about 2 minutes long. Why anybody prefers football, with its endless cheating and time-wasting bullshit, is beyond me.

  3. Bacardi1 says:

    You’re correct – today’s race is one of those “anything goes” fields. Definitely a crap shoot.

    We’re not gamblers by any means, but last year we did have a little fun opening up a tiny online acct. & betting a few dollars, so plan to do so again today. I’m not really into racing, but do enjoy watching the Triple Crown races. One of my own horses is a great-granddaughter of Alydar; two others have ties to Ruffian – so it’s just a fun thing for me.

  4. catsworking says:

    Alydar and Ruffian, I tip my hat to you! I didn’t take their ancestry back that far. I was looking for lineage in my generation — Curlin, Big Brown, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, and a few others.

  5. Bacardi1 says:

    Well, obviously my husband & I won’t be starting careers as racetrack touts – lol! Our 3 picks came in 8th, 10th, & 14th.

  6. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, I feel your pain. I didn’t do well at all this year myself. Tapwrit came in 6th, Gunnevera 7th, and Patch 14th. Just goes to show what a horse with a dream a dream can do. Looks like we’ll be rooting for Always Dreaming in the Preakness.

  7. Bacardi1 says:

    It was impossible not to bet on Patch, & we weren’t alone. It was sorta nice to see so many people – most likely knowing all too well that he didn’t have a chance – bet on him anyway out of underdog sentimentality.

  8. Francis Alan Wormald says:


  9. catsworking says:

    I would hardly say it was my worst prediction EVER. I’ve missed many others. It’s never black and white with horses like it is around here at Cats Working with cats.

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