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After Oaks Win, Baffert Is Picking The Favorite For Derby

The 143rd Kentucky Derby will be run Saturday evening at Churchill Downs.

There’s a full 20-horse field for the race but this year, a familiar Derby trainer will watch the race at home in California.

To see the 2017 Kentucky Derby live odds in real-time, click here.

Bob Baffert does not have a Derby horse this year. His early contender, Mastery, suffered an ankle injury just after a race in March and had to undergo surgery.

Baffert, who has four Derby victories and trained 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, says the setback was a disappointment, but he’s thankful that the horse is recovering.

"It's crazy. It's why I have white hair," he says. "But know know what?  It's a sport; as a trainer it's like being a coach. You cannot rest on your laurels. I never look back. I look forward, you know. Hopefully get back here again."

Classic Empire is the early 4-1 favorite for the Saturday's race. The colt will break from the number 14 post with jockey Julian Leparoux aboard.

Always Dreaming and McCraken are co-second choices at 5-1. Always Dreaming drew the number 5 post. McCraken will break from the number 15 hole.

Although Baffert doesn't have a horse in this year's Derby, like most everyone else, he has an opinion.

"There's a lot of parity. There are some nice, solid horses," he told the Associated Press. "I think Classic Empire is probably the best horse in the race. Todd's horse has brilliance, Always Dreaming. If they can get him figured out, he could steal it. The rest are bombers."

Baffert won his third Kentucky Oaks trophy Friday with Abel Tasman.

Post-time for Saturday's Kentucky Derby is 6:46 p.m.

Rick Howlett was midday host and the host of LPM's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." He was with LPM from 2001-2023 and held many different titles, including Morning Edition host, Assignment Editor and Interim News Director. He died in August 2023. Read a remembrance of Rick here.

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