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Five to Follow on the 2017 Kentucky Derby Trail

The Kentucky Derby is not only one of the most popular sporting events of the year, it is also one of the most heavily bet events when it comes to horse racing. Always held on the first Saturday in May at fabled Churchill Downs, there are a series of major graded events that are run prior to this race and commonly referred to as the “Kentucky Derby Trail”.

The following is a quick look five Kentucky Derby contenders that are on the trail while also having the best value in Bovada’ futures odds to win this year’s ‘Run for the Roses’ on May 6.


Classic Empire +700

Some of the early luster on this Kentucky-bred colt from a solid juvenile campaign was worn off last week in a disappointing third-place finish in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes, but this Pioneerof the Nile pedigree still belongs on the list for what he accomplished on his way to being named “Two Year Old of the Year”.

Trained by Mark Casse, he earned that title with a victory over Not This Time and Practical Joke in last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at a distance of 1 1/16 miles on the dirt at Santa Anita Park. This was one of three victories last year in a major graded stakes race.

Irish War Cry +900

This three-year old New Jersey-bred colt just burst onto the scene with last week’s stirring victory in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Graham Motion, he closed out his juvenile racing season with a victory in the ungraded Marylander Stakes at Laurel Park on Dec. 31 over a distance of seven furlongs. This was one of two victories last season at that race track.

With a strong pedigree from Curlin, look for Irish War Cry to race next in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream on March 4.

Unique Bella +1200

This is another three-year old moving up the Kentucky Derby futures odds list with a bullet following last week’s victory in the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita at a distance of 1 mile. It remains to be seen whether or not this Pennsylvania-bred filly will try and take on the colts in the Kentucky Derby, but with three wins and a place finish in four career races, she deserves a spot on the early watch list.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Unique Bella is a pedigree of Tapit with a progeny that dates back to A.P. Indy, so you know that she comes from solid racing stock.

Mo Town +1600

Trainer Anthony Dutrow is still waiting for the right time for this Kentucky-bred colt to make his three-year old debut, but it appears that he might have his sights set on running him in this year’s Grade 3 Gotham Stakes on March 4. He is coming off a productive juvenile run in which he placed first in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 26 at a distance of 1 1/8 miles.

He also finished in the money with a first and second-place finish in a pair of Maiden Special Weight races as a two-year old in late summer. He is a pedigree of Uncle Mo going back to In Excess as a progeny.

American Anthem +2000

This is one of famed trainer Bob Baffert’s top three-year olds on the 2017 Kentucky Derby Trail. This Kentucky-bred colt got an early jump out of the gate this year with a second-place finish to Gormley in this season’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 7 at a distance of 1 mile. In his only event as a juvenile, he won a MSW race at Del Mar on Dec. 3 over a distance of six furlongs.

It remains to be seen what Baffert has planned next for this pedigree of Bodemeister, but there is something about this horse that landed him on this list.