Classic Empire Widens Gap in Early Kentucky Derby Wagering

Classic Empire, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner won the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park and is the early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby at 4-1..(Photo by Casey Phillips/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

Classic Empire had plenty of horseplayers jumping off his bandwagon after coming out of his third place finish in the Holy Bull (G2) with a foot abscess, but many are jumping back on board and the colt has widened the gap in early Kentucky Derby (G1) wagering.

The colt came back in his final prep with a sharp score in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and is now the 4-1 favorite in early Kentucky Derby betting at US Racing at 4-1.

Always Dreaming and McCraken are now co-second choices in early Derby wagering at US Racing at 6-1, followed by Irish War Cry and 7-1 and Gunnevera at 9-1.

Classic Empire was the 2016 Eclipse Award winner for top juvenile, winning four of his five starts as a two-year-old capped off by his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). His lone loss was in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga where he wheeled and dumped his jockey.

The Mark Casse trainee is perfect in two trips over the Churchill Downs main track including taking the Bashford Manor (G3) at six furlongs last July in his stakes debut.

Always Dreaming is one of three runners sent out by trainer Todd Pletcher who is seeking to improve off his 1 for 45 record in the Run for the Roses.

The Florida Derby (G1) winner shared favoritism in early Kentucky Derby wagering with Classic Empire but has now drifted up slightly to his current 6-1 odds at US Racing.

McCraken won his first four career starts but missed some time with an ankle issue and came up short in a third place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) in his last outing at Keeneland.

The colt put in his final major morning workout at Churchill Downs on Sunday, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.80, the 10th best of 33 to go five furlongs that morning.

The Ian Wilkes trainee appears to be coming into the race the right way. He is perfect in his three starts over the Churchill Downs main track including winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last fall.


Kentucky Derby Odds Update via US Racing:

Classic Empire   4-1

Always Dreaming   6-1

McCraken   6-1

Irish War Cry   7-1

Gunnevera   9-1

Gormley    10-1

Thunder Snow   12-1

Practical Joke   15-1

Girvin    18-1

Tapwrit   20-1

Hence   20-1

State of Honor  22-1

Lookin At Lee   25-1

Royal Mo   25-1

J Boys Echo   25-1

Battle of Midway   25-1

Irap    30-1

Patch 30-1

Untrapped   35-1

Sonneteer   40-1

Fast and Accurate   50-1


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