The Kentucky Derby is appointment viewing every year, but the 143rd running of the event promises to be memorable with all the runners in with a chance of winning, including Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, McCraken and Irish War Cry.
One of the 20 horses will take the first step toward a Triple Crown, and fans can tune in for coverage throughout Saturday afternoon.
|Kentucky Derby Broadcast Schedule|
|Saturday, May 6||12-2:30 p.m.||Kentucky Derby Undercard||NBCSN|
|Saturday, May 6||2:30-7:20 p.m.||143rd Kentucky Derby (6:34 p.m. post time)||NBC|
Here is a look at the full lineup with information such as post position, trainers and jockeys. The odds are courtesy of OddsShark, as of Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
|1||Lookin at Lee||Steve Asmussen||Corey Lanerie||33-1|
|2||Thunder Snow||Saeed bin Suroor||Christophe Soumillon||18-1|
|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||4.5-1|
|6||State of Honor||Mark Casse||Jose Lezcano||33-1|
|7||Girvin||Joe Sharp||Mike Smith||16-1|
|8||Hence||Steve Asmussen||Florent Geroux||16-1|
|9||Irap||Doug O'Neill||Mario Gutierrez||18-1|
|10||Gunnevera||Antonio Sano||Javier Castellano||12-1|
|11||Battle of Midway||Jerry Hollendorfer||Flavien Prat||20-1|
|12||Sonneteer||Keith Desormeaux||Kent Desormeaux||40-1|
|13||J Boys Echo||Dale Romans||Luis Saez||28-1|
|14||Classic Empire||Mark Casse||Julien Leparoux||4.25-1|
|15||McCraken||Ian Wilkes||Brian Hernandez Jr.||6-1|
|16||Tapwrit||Todd Pletcher||Jose Ortiz||28-1|
|17||Irish War Cry||Graham Motion||Rajiv Maragh||6-1|
|18||Gormley||John Shirreffs||Victor Espinoza||18-1|
|19||Practical Joke||Chad Brown||Joel Rosario||25-1|
|20||Patch||Todd Pletcher||Tyler Gaffalione||33-1|
Predicted Top Three: Classic Empire, Always Dreaming and Irish War Cry
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Classic Empire, Always Dreaming and Irish War Cry will finish in the top three (in that order) even though the latter has plenty of history working against him.
According to Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader, there has never been a horse to win the Kentucky Derby from the No. 17 post, which is exactly where Irish War Cry is starting Saturday.
If there was ever a combination to break the streak, it is trainer Graham Motion and this horse.
Motion won the Kentucky Derby in 2011 with Animal Kingdom, and Irish War Cry's pedigree includes two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin. The impressive pedigree was on full display when Irish War Cry won the Holy Bull Stakes over the likes of Classic Empire and others, but his three-race winning streak came to an end at the Fountain of Youth Stakes with a seventh-place showing.
Motion suggested Irish War Cry raced too soon after his win at the Holy Bull Stakes and called the outing a "real head-scratcher," via the Kentucky Derby's official website.
Irish War Cry will need a much better showing against Classic Empire, especially since the favorite is starting from the No. 14 gate.
Classic Empire came from the outside in his victory at the Arkansas Derby when he bounced back from injury concerns and looked more like the horse who won the Breeders' Futurity Stakes and Breeders' Cup Juvenile than the one who lost to Irish War Cry at the Holy Bull Stakes.
Like Irish War Cry, Classic Empire boasts a notable pedigree with Pioneerof the Nile as his sire, who also sired Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun (h/t Chicago Tribune) pointed out Classic Empire doesn't have any perfect horses to challenge him Saturday: "As fascinating as Classic Empire's rocky story has been, the fact he's the favorite speaks to the unsettled state of this year's Derby field. There are plenty of talented horses but none of them arrived here with spotless resumes."
Always Dreaming will finish in between Classic Empire and Irish War Cry thanks largely to his accomplished jockey, John Velazquez. Velazquez won the 2011 Kentucky Derby, and Always Dreaming's trainer, Todd Pletcher, won the 2010 Derby with Super Saver.
Classic Empire bolstered confidence with an Arkansas Derby win, and Always Dreaming did the same with a victory at the Florida Derby.
Following the pattern of impressive pedigree for a top-three finisher, Always Dreaming is the son of Bodemeister, who finished in second place at the Derby and the Preakness.
Ultimately, the pedigree, trainers and jockeys of these horses suggest formidable showings, and they will all deliver. However, Classic Empire found a formula for victory at the Kentucky Derby with his win in Arkansas by charging from the outside to the finish line.
He will do the same from the No. 14 post Saturday.