The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Classic Empire returned from his two month break and disappointing three-year-old debut to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on Saturday vaulting from 21st to second in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings.
Last year’s Eclipse Award winner for top juvenile spent months as the early betting favorite until his third-place finish in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4. A foot abscess, back issues and a couple of issues in the mornings during workouts sent horseplayers jumping off the bandwagon.
He is back and currently at odds of 11-2 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at US Racing.
The colt overcame bobbling at the breaking having to steady briefly early, caught some traffic on the far turn and came with a good four wide run to roll home to win by a half-length over Conquest Mo Money, who was part of the pace at odds of 17-1.
2017 Arkansas Derby Replay:
Turf ‘n’ Sport handicapper Michael Dempsey nailed the exacta cold to the tune of $100.20.
Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Girvin topped the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings with 150. The colt is currently 10-1 in early Derby wagering at US Racing.
Always Dreaming is the 4-1 betting favorite in early betting at US Racing. The Todd Pletcher trainee won the Florida Derby (G1) in his last outing.
Pletcher has four other contenders that made the top 20—Tapwrit, Malagacy, Patch and Battalion Runner.
Trainer Steve Asmussen has the two contenders that landed in 21st and 22nd place in the point standings and would be the first pair to get in if there are any defections among the top 20. With 34 points in 21st is Untrapped and he is followed by his stablemate Lookin At Lee with 32 points.
Road to the Kentucky Derby Points Standings as of April 16:
|Rank||Horse||Trainer||Points||Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings|
|2.||Classic Empire||Mark Casse||132||$2,093,820|
|5.||Irish War Cry||Graham Motion||110||$672,660|
||Saeed bin Suroor||100||$1,621,063|
|7.||Always Dreaming||Todd Pletcher||100||$589,000|
|9.||Practical Joke||Chad Brown||74||$966,000|
|10.||J Boys Echo||Dale Romans||63||$305,000|
|11.||State of Honor||Mark Casse||62||$309,564|
|15.||Fast and Accurate||Mike Maker||50||$320,712|
|17.||Battle of Midway||Jerry Hollendorfer||40||$224,000|
|19.||Battalion Runner||Todd Pletcher||40||$140,000|
|20.||Cloud Computing||Chad Brown||40||$115,000|
|22.||Lookin At Lee||Steve Asmussen||32||$428,600|
|24.||Royal Mo||John Shirreffs||30||$213,000|
|25.||Local Hero||Steve Asmussen||30||$140,000|
|26.||Master Plan||Todd Pletcher||20||$214,700|
|27.||Blueridge Traveler||Kenny McPeek||20||$95,000|
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