Classic Empire brilliant in the Arkansas Derby. Who will be the 2017 Kentucky Derby favorite?


April 16th 2017

After an exciting Arkansas Derby yesterday (shown below), that saw the 2 year-old Male Champion Classic Empire bounce back into form, Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia now has his work cut out for him in coming up with the Kentucky Derby favorite. It seems pretty simple to me that it comes down to Always Dreaming or Classic Empire. 

Although I think Classic Empire will be the favorite among bettors on Derby Day, here is how I would set the morning line odds for the two top contenders right now. 

1) Always Dreaming  (3/1) 

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Bodemeister (Finished 2nd in the 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:47.472017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97 – 2017 Florida Derby

2) Classic Empire  (7/2) 

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd—>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (Finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.93 – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 

One performance that shouldn’t go overlooked is the second place finish by Conquest Mo Money. This makes Hence’s win over Conquest Mo Money in the Sunland Derby by 3 3/4th lengths look better and better. It adds clout to my inclusion of Hence in my last article on Kentucky Derby sleepers.

Who’s in the Kentucky Derby? Girvin (150), Classic Empire (132), Gormley (125), Irap (113), Irish War Cry (110), Always Dreaming (100), Thunder Snow (100), Gunnevera (84), Practical Joke (74), J Boys Echo (63), State of Honor (62), Tapwrit (54), Malagacy (50), Hence (50), Fast and Accurate (50), McCraken (40), Battle of Midway (40), Conquest Mo Money (40), Patch (40), and Battalion Runner (40).

Cloud Computing (40), Untrapped (34), Lookin At Lee (32), Sonneteer (30) are on outside looking in and hoping for scratches.  Conquest Mo Money is not Triple Crown nominated and may be the first horse to qualify but not race in the Run for the Roses.

On the docket…

My next blog will provide my updated Kentucky Derby contender rankings. I will have this out by later tonight.



  1. Anonymous · April 16, 2017

    Thank you for some great prep race analysis. I hope Looking at Lee gets in. He had a terrible ride yesterday and still got third. Another 1/8 of a mile and he could have won. If the jockey keeps him 6 wide around the final turn he probably wins.


  2. Michael J. Cox · April 16, 2017

    Thanks. Lookin At Lee is a good horse who would benefit by having an additional furlong. I would love to see him and Sonneteer make the Derby


  3. Peter Setiawan · April 22, 2017

    Fast and accurate ??


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s