May 3, 2017 / 8:41 PM / 2 years ago

Horse racing: Classic Empire draws favorable post for Derby

(Reuters) - Kentucky Derby favorite Classic Empire will break from the middle of the pack in the 20-horse race after drawing the 14th post position on Wednesday for Saturday’s Run for the Roses.

May 2, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Derby hopeful Classic Empire works out during morning workouts at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Mark Casse-trained colt, who was installed as the early 4-1 favorite for the first leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, was last year’s champion 2-year-old and is coming off a win at last month’s Arkansas Derby.

With the last four favorites having triumphed at the 1-1/4-mile Kentucky Derby, Classic Empire will try to extend that stretch to an unprecedented fifth year.

Always Dreaming and McCraken, who are co-second favorites at 5-1, will break from the fifth and 15th posts, respectively.

McCraken, who suffered an ankle injury in February and then finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes last month, will start from the same post as 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

The fifth post that Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming will break from has produced nine Derby winners, most recently California Chrome in 2014 who went on to capture the Preakness Stakes before finishing fourth at the Belmont Stakes.

Irish War Cry, who came from just off the pace to pull clear of highly-rated Battalion Runner at the Wood Memorial in April, is the fourth choice at 6-1 and will break from the 17th gate, which has never produced a winner.

One-eyed horse Patch, whose left eye was removed last June due to a massive inflammation, drew the outside 20th post and is a 30-1 longshot along with Battle of Midway, State of Honor and Untrapped.

The inside-most post position, from which no horse has won the Kentucky Derby since Ferdinand in 1986, went to the Steve Asmussen-trained colt Lookin At Lee.

Fast And Accurate, who will start from the third gate, and Sonneteer, who drew the 12th spot and has never won in 10 starts to date, have the longest odds in the field at 50-1.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond

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