Classic Empire has won five of the seven career races he has competed in, including both of his appearances at Churchill Downs. Julien Leparoux will try to jockey Classic Empire to a win in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday.
Though not as dominant as many past Kentucky Derby favorites, Classic Empire looks to be the one to beat in this field and is a +425 favorite to win the race at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Classic Empire's win as a 2-year-old in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was the fastest race that any horse in this year's field has run, and a similar effort on Saturday would likely be enough to secure a win. This would be the first Kentucky Derby win for both jockey Leparoux and trainer Mark Casse if Classic Empire comes out on top.
Since training duties have been taken over by Todd Pletcher, Always Dreaming (+450 to win the Kentucky Derby) has won each of his last three races. Always Dreaming has looked impressive in all three wins and ran a career-best speed and separated from the pack in the Florida Derby in April. Jockey John Velazquez will try to pick up his first win since he won with Animal Kingdom in 2011.
McCraken (+600) has won four of his five career races, always doing so with a late push as a strong closer. There is plenty of buzz on this horse coming into the Kentucky Derby due to some strong showings in training. Closers often flourish in big fields, and a potentially sloppy track would only improve McCraken's chances of catching the leaders down the stretch.
Irish War Cry (+600) has excellent speed and is entering this race in good form coming off a win in the Wood Memorial. The biggest thing working against Irish War Cry on Saturday is his post position; no horse has won this race from the No. 17 post. As a horse that prefers to get the lead early, he will have a lot of ground to make up so far from the rail.
Other potential contenders include Gunnevera (+1200), Girvin (+1600), Hence (+1600), Irap (+1800), Thunder Snow (+1800), and Gormley (+1800).
Kentucky Derby betting odds
Classic Empire +425
Always Dreaming +450
Irish War Cry +600
Thunder Snow +1800
Battle of Midway +2000
Practical Joke +2500
J Boys Echo +2800
State of Honor +3300
Lookin at Lee +3300
Fast and Accurate +6600