American Pharoah snapped a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015, and a deep field of 20 horses will strive to take the first step toward another one Saturday during the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are the favorites to join the list of legendary horses, but challengers such as McCraken and Irish War Cry have their eyes on the garland of roses as well.
With that in mind, here is a look at the odds and jockey information for all 20 horses (per Joe Osborne of OddsShark, as of Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET), as well as the pedigrees of the contenders.
Odds and Jockeys
|1||Lookin at Lee||Steve Asmussen||Corey Lanerie||28-1|
|2||Thunder Snow||Saeed bin Suroor||Christophe Soumillon||16-1|
|3||Fast and Accurate||Mike Maker||Channing Hill||66-1|
|4||Untrapped||Steve Asmussen||Ricardo Santana Jr.||50-1|
|5||Always Dreaming||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||4-1|
|6||State of Honor||Mark Casse||Jose Lezcano||40-1|
|7||Girvin||Joe Sharp||Mike Smith||16-1|
|8||Hence||Steve Asmussen||Florent Geroux||22-1|
|9||Irap||Doug O'Neill||Mario Gutierrez||25-1|
|10||Gunnevera||Antonio Sano||Javier Castellano||12-1|
|11||Battle of Midway||Jerry Hollendorfer||Flavien Prat||28-1|
|12||Sonneteer||Keith Desormeaux||Kent Desormeaux||33-1|
|13||J Boys Echo||Dale Romans||Luis Saez||33-1|
|14||Classic Empire||Mark Casse||Julien Leparoux||4.25-1|
|15||McCraken||Ian Wilkes||Brian Hernandez Jr.||6.5-1|
|16||Tapwrit||Todd Pletcher||Jose Ortiz||25-1|
|17||Irish War Cry||Graham Motion||Rajiv Maragh||6.5-1|
|18||Gormley||John Shirreffs||Victor Espinoza||16-1|
|19||Practical Joke||Chad Brown||Joel Rosario||16-1|
|20||Patch||Todd Pletcher||Tyler Gaffalione||33-1|
The listed pedigrees are from the Kentucky Derby's official website.
|Lookin at Lee||Lookin At Lucky and Langara Lass|
|Thunder Snow||Helmet and Eastern Joy|
|Fast and Accurate||Hansen and Heidi's Dance|
|Always Dreaming||Bodemeister and Above Perfection|
|State of Honor||To Honor and Serve|
|Girvin||Tale of Ekati|
|Hence||Street Boss and Floating Island|
|Irap||Tiznow and Silken Cat|
|Battle of Midway||Smart Strike and Rigoletta|
|Sonneteer||Midnight Lute and Ours|
|J Boys Echo||Mineshaft|
|Classic Empire||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Irish War Cry||Curlin|
|Gormley||Malibu Moon and Race to Urga|
|Practical Joke||Into Mischief and Halo Humor|
Jockey-and-Pedigree Combination to Target: Classic Empire
There is plenty to like about Classic Empire if you are picking a winner that goes beyond his pedigree and jockey Julien R. Leparoux.
Classic Empire thrived as a juvenile with wins at the Breeders' Futurity and Breeders' Cup Juvenile and then captured the Arkansas Derby in impressive fashion. The win in Arkansas was especially important because it came after a third-place finish at the Holy Bull Stakes.
According to the Kentucky Derby's official website, Classic Empire finished third largely due to a foot abscess and then dealt with back issues in the aftermath. The Arkansas Derby victory proved he is ready to race at the highest level, and the resurgence will continue at the Kentucky Derby.
He also received what Dan Wolken of USA Today called an "ideal post position" with the No. 14 gate and doesn't have to worry about getting pinned on the inside.
While all of that serves as encouragement for those supporting Classic Empire, his pedigree does as well. His sire, Pioneerof the Nile, was also the sire of American Pharoah. American Pharoah thrilled the horse-racing world with a dominant Triple Crown performance just two years ago, so high-stakes victory is certainly in Classic Empire's blood.
What's more, Leparoux boasts a formidable resume and will not be intimidated by the pressure of the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby's official website noted he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2009 with 21 notable stake-race victories. He also counts six wins at the Breeders' Cup World Championships and will look to add to his impressive career atop one of the best horses in the field Saturday.