Racing

The Horses and Humans of Kentucky Derby 143

So who’s your Derby horse?


As horse people, we invariably get asked the same question this time of year: “Who’s your Derby horse?” Whether or not you actually follow thoroughbred racing, or once taught an OTTB the intricacies of the half-halt, you’re expected to have an idea what’s going on the first Saturday in May.

We can help.

There are numerous ways to go about picking your Kentucky Derby horse, some more logical than others. But in a race like this, where horses are tested mentally and physically like never before, throw logic out the window and go with your gut. Or, maybe you’ll find something else that tickles your fancy…

With that, let’s take a look at this year’s field and get you Derby-party ready.

The Hot Shots

 

Classic Empire

Pioneer of the Nile (Empire Maker)—Sambuca Classic (Cat Thief)
Post Position: 14
Odds: 4-1
Owner: John Oxley
Trainer: Mark Casse
Rider: Julien Leparoux

Last year’s Champion 2-year-old gallops into Churchill Downs fully prepared to defend his status as the cream of the crop. He’s won at four different racetracks across the country and already earned north of $2 million. Jockey Julien Leparoux has been on him nearly every step of the way and has his best shot yet to win his first career Kentucky Derby. Purchased as a yearling for $475,000 by Hall of Fame Polo player John C. Oxley, expectations have always been high for this colt, and he’s delivered.