LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Classic Empire was made the early 4-1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby on Wednesday, with just four of the 20 horses listed at single digits in a wide-open race.
The colt will break from the No. 14 post on Saturday. Just two horses have won the Derby out of there. The last was Carry Back in 1961.
Trained by Mark Casse, Classic Empire won the Arkansas Derby and was last year’s champion 2-year-old.
“We couldn’t be in a better place right now,” Casse said.
The favorite has won the Derby in each of the last four years. It’s the longest such streak since the 1970s.
Always Dreaming and McCraken are co-second choices at 5-1.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Always Dreaming drew the No. 5 post, which has produced nine Derby winners, most recently California Chrome in 2014. Blue Grass Stakes winner McCraken will break from the No. 15 hole. The last of five winners from there was Triple Crown champion American Pharoah two years ago.
Irish War Cry is the fourth choice at 6-1 odds and drew the No. 17 post. No horse has won from there, but trainer Graham Motion was pleased.
“Being in the auxiliary gate keeps you in the clear, keeps you away from the craziness,” he said. “You don’t have to stand in the gate that long.”
The main starting gate holds 14 horses and has a six-stall auxiliary gate that is attached. Horses are loaded into the gate two at a time, starting with posts one and 11, which spend the most time waiting for the start.
Four horses are listed at 15-1: Girvin, Hence, Gunnevera and Gormley.
Six horses are 20-1 shots: Lookin At Lee, Thunder Snow, Irap, J Boys Echo, Tapwrit and Practical Joke.
Lookin At Lee drew the dreaded No. 1 hole in the starting gate. His sire, Lookin At Lucky, had the same spot in 2010. He was the 6-1 favorite that year, but was pinched at the start and got banged against the rail before finishing sixth.
There are even bigger odds for bettors who like extreme long shots. Untrapped, State of Honor, Battle of Midway, and Patch, the one-eyed horse, are all at 30-1.
The longest odds in the field belong to Fast And Accurate and Sonneteer, both at 50-1. Fast And Accurate is part-owned by Olympic skier Bode Miller. Sonneteer has yet to win a race in his career. If he would win the Derby, he’d be the first maiden to do so since Brokers Tip in 1933.
A total of 22 horses were entered, two more than the maximum limit of 20. Also eligible are Royal Mo and Master Plan, who would need defections by early Friday morning to get into the 1 1/4-mile race.
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