Odds Say First Time Trainer Wins 2017 Kentucky Derby

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

April 24th, 2017

There's a good chance that a trainer that has never won the Kentucky Derby before takes home the garland of roses on May 6. The reason is because all 5 of the horses listed below are in the Top 10 in the Derby Point Standings.

Keep reading for information on these trainers all of whom would be a deserving Kentucky Derby winner!


Girvin, Joe Sharp

Equibase only has training stats for Joe Sharp starting in 2014. He may have trained before then. Does it matter? I don't think so. Sharp has become one of the top trainers in the United States. Last year, Sharp saddled 736 horses. They earned over $4.15 million.

Sharp is no longer just Rosie Napravnik's husband. He's an up and coming, talented trainer who could saddle a Derby winner in Girvin on the First Saturday in May. Girvin has 150 points. He's ranked #1 on the Kentucky Derby Point Standings. Girvin doesn't have to stay as far off the pace as some of the other closers in the race. That could give him an advantage as they turn for home.

Classic Empire, Mark Casse

Mark Casse is already one of the top trainers in the world. In 2016, Casse saddled 1,334 horses. They earned over $17.94 million. Casse trains champion horses, like Classic Empire, that have a shot any time he enters them in a race.

Classic Empire is listed at #2 on the Kentucky Derby Point Standings. Last year's 2-year-old champion looked great when winning the Arkansas Derby in his final prep for the Run for the Roses. Vegas has set Classic Empire's odds to win the Derby at 4 to 1. The next closest horse is Always Dreaming at 7 to 1. What more can I write? Obviously, Casse's top Derby horse has a huge shot to win on May 6.

Thunder Snow, Saeed Bin Suroor

The last 2 Godolphin entrants into the Kentucky Derby were trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. Frosted finished fourth in the Derby in 2015. Nobody was going to beat American Pharoah that year. Frosted went on to become the most accomplished 3-year-old Godolphin horse to ever run in the United States.

Thunder Snow might be better than Frosted. It's hard to tell. One thing that's for sure is that Saeed Bin Suroor remains one of the outstanding trainers in the world. Those who have followed horse racing since the 1990's know who Suroor is. He's won some of the most prestigious races in the world including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 3 times, the Ascot Gold Cup 5 times, the Queen Anne Stakes 7 times, the Irish Champion Stakes 4 times, and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 5 times. He's also won the Hong Kong Vase with Mastery in 2010, and the Hong Kong Cup twice with Fantastic Light and Ramonti.

But, neither Suroor nor Godolphin has ever won one of the Triple Crown races. Could this be the year? Thunder Snow is ranked #6 in the standings, he seems to love dirt, and if his jockey wears Godolphin blue you can be assured that he's regally bred.

Gunnevera, Antonio Sano

Antonio Sano's horses earned over $2.6 million dollars in 2016. Because of Gunnevera, his horses have earned over $1.098 million already in 2017. Yes, no doubt that Todd Pletcher's Always Dreaming was fantastic when winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

But, as Gunnevera showed in his Fountain of Youth Stakes score, he can absolutely fly once jockey Javier Castellano pushes the button. Javier may end up on a different horse before the Derby. I suggest he sticks with Gunnevera. The horse had no shot in the Florida Derby after they ran a half in :47.04. That's just not a quick enough pace for Gunnevera to close into at Gulfstream. Things could be different for this horse at Churchill Downs. Gunnevera is ranked #8 on the Kentucky Derby Point Standings.

Practical Joke, Chad Brown

Every horseplayer in North America knows who Chad Brown is. The 2016 Eclipse Award Winner for Outstanding Trainer saddled 182 winners from 763 starters last year. His horses earned over a remarkable $23.134 million. Brown is one of the best trainers in the world, not just in the United States, in the world.

Practical Joke, ranked #9 on the Kentucky Derby Point Standings, has every right to improve on May 6. if you watch the Bluegrass Stakes, he appears to hang while trying to get by Irap in the stretch. It makes sense. Irap got away with a :48.34 half-mile and a 1:12.36 3/4 mile. Any horse can pretty much wire the field with those fractions at Keeneland.

I think Brown's got a legitimate contender for the roses on the First Saturday in May. Practical Joke may not run like a joke on May 6.