5 things to know about Kentucky Derby favorite Classic Empire

The “Run for the Roses” sets off at 6:34 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

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Classic Empire, is the favorite at 4-to-1 odds. Here are five things to consider before putting your money on last year’s best 2-year old:

• The favorite has won the Kentucky Derby last four years and wins most often (38 percent of the time).

• The first run of the Triple Crown will take place under the threat of questionable weather. Unseasonably cool air is expected to bring in some rain that will linger until early afternoon and keep the track damp. All these could lead to a “fast” track. Classic Empire’s 108 speed rating in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is the best of any contender.

• The last six Derby winners won their final prep race leading up to Derby. Classic Empire has won three of his past four races, including the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby in April.

• Classic Empire will start from the 14 post. Recent winners started from the outside the No. 12 paddock. Only two horses have won the Derby starting from the 14 paddock. It’s been three decades since a horse has won starting at the No. 1 post.

• Classic Empire jockey Julien Leparoux is riding his 11th Derby. His best finish was fifth with Sedgefield (a 58-to-1 shot) in 2007. One jockey to watch is Victor Espinoza, who is going for his third Derby win in four years aboard Gormley - from the No. 3 paddock.

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