Trio of Favorites Top Kentucky Derby Draw

Kentucky Derby Trio Classic Empire, Always Dreaming and McCraken Favored in Run for the Roses

The post-position draw for the Kentucky Derby was Wednesday, and the morning line odds are set. A trio of favorites lead this year’s 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, and Classic Empire (4-1) along with Always Dreaming (5-1) and McCraken (5-1) are the early race favorites according to Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.

Classic Empire winning Arkansas Derby

Classic Empire won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November, and made his case as the Kentucky Derby favorite when he won the Arkansas Derby in April. A son of Pioneer of the Nile and half-brother to 2015 Derby and Triple Crown champion American Pharaoh, Classic Empire is a 3-time Grade I winner. But earlier this year he was not behaving well and had a foot abscess. His trainer Mark Casse knew he wasn’t right, and he sent him to Winding Oaks Farm for a little rest. He returned to like his old self in the Florida Derby, and in his final tuneup before the Derby, Classic Empire went 5 furlongs in :59.60 at Churchill Downs.

“It gave me chills,” Casse said afterward. Jockey Julien Leparoux is 0—for-9 in the Derby, but will be riding the favorite Saturday.

Always Dreaming flying home to win Florida Derby

Always Dreaming won the Florida Derby by 5 lengths with a fantastic finish that clocked in at 1:47.07 – the fastest 1 1/8 mile time in the Florida Derby since Alydar in 1978. Not bad for his first stakes start. His final 3/8 mile time of :36.56 seconds was the second-fastest of all Derby horses. Some bullet works at Churchill including 5 furlongs in :59.60 have many dreaming and believing this Bodemeister colt is Above Perfection and a Derby Dandy that can get top trainer Todd Pletcher his 2nd Derby winner.

“I thought he went great this morning,” Pletcher said following his most recent 1 1/16 mile gallop experimenting with “draw reins” for a second day. “I very much liked what I saw.”

McCraken winning Sam F. Davis

McCraken has won 4-of-5 starts and is 3-for-3 over the Churchill Downs track. But his recent start raised questions in his 3rd place finish as the 8-5 favorite in the Blue Grass Stakes. Many horses have not adjusted well to the Keeneland track, but then no runner in the Blue Grass has won the Kentucky Derby since 2007. McCraken set the Tampa Bay Downs track record when he won the Sam F. Davis Stakes in February. He’s been sharp but not his best over the Churchill track in his recent works before the Derby, posting a pair of 5 furlong times of 1:00.80.    

It was a day of laying odds Wednesday. Trying to figure out who will be on top Saturday now becomes the challenge.

The rest of the Derby field with post position, odds, jockey, trainer and most recent race finish are listed below.

Before you make your final picks for this year’s Kentucky Derby, be sure to check the weather, as rain is 100% likely on Thursday, 80% on Friday for Kentucky Oaks day, and up to a 70% chance of rain showers on Saturday is forecast for Kentucky Derby day and the Run for the Roses.

Post Horse Odds Jockey Trainer Last Race
1 Lookin at Lee 20-1 Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 3rd Arkansas Derby
2 Thunder Snow 20-1 Chris Soumillon Saeed bin Suroor 1st UA Derby
3 Fast and Accurate 50-1 Channing Hill Mike Maker 1st Spiral Stakes
4 Untrapped 30-1 Ricardo Santana, Jr. Steve Asmussen 6th Arkansas Derby
5 Always Dreaming 5–1 John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 1st Florida Derby
6 State of Honor 30–1 Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 2nd Florida Derby
7 Girvin 15-1 Mike Smith Joe Sharp 1st Louisiana Derby
8 Hence 15-1 Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 1st Sunland Derby
9 Irap 20-1 Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neil 1st Blue Grass Stakes
10 Gunnevera 15-1 Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 3rd Florida Derby
11 Battle of Midway 30-1 Flavien Prat  Jerry Hollendorfer 2nd Santa Anita Derby
12 Sonneteer 50-1 Kent Desormeaus Keith Desormeaux 4th Arkansas Derby
13 J Boys Echo 20-1 Luis Saez Dale Romans 4th Blue Grass Stakes
14 Classic Empire 4–1 Julien Leparoux Mark Casse 1st Arkansas Derby
15 McCraken 5–1 Brian Hernandez, Jr Ian Wilkes 3rd Blue Grass Stakes
16 Tapwrit 20-1 Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 5th Blue Grass Stakes
17 Irish War Cry 6–1 Fajiv Maragh Graham Motion 1st Wood Memorial
18 Gormely 15-1 Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 1st Santa Anita Derby
19 Practical Joke 20-1 Joel Rosario Chad Brown 2nd Blue Grass Stakes
20 Patch 30-1 Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 2nd Louisiana Derby

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply