After being favored among individual interests in the first two pools, #11 Classic Empire no longer has a firm grasp on that honor entering Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW). #15 McCraken, who is now unbeaten from four starts after capturing the Sam F. Davis (G3) on February 11, is a threat to overtake the champion 2-year-old as KDFW3 launches its three-day run on Friday at noon (ET).
Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia could not separate the pair, installing both at 8-1 on the morning line. The #24 Mutuel Field option of “All other 3-year-olds” is the early overall favorite at 4-1.
Classic Empire was the clear 5-1 choice among individual interests in Pool 2, which took place January 27-29, but his reputation sustained a hit when finishing a non-threatening third as the odds-on favorite in the Holy Bull (G3) the following weekend. A foot abscess was blamed for the setback and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner will be looking to rebound next time. Trainer Mark Casse is waiting to decide on a target.
McCraken is pointing for the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 11 and possesses a 3-for-3 record at Churchill Downs, including the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in late November. Ian Wilkes conditions the Janis Whitham homebred.
Other runners likely to attract support include #17 One Liner (15-1 morning line), who makes his first appearance as an individual interest following a 3 ½-length victory in the recent Southwest (G3); unbeaten Grade 1 winner #14 Mastery (10-1), who is readying for his 2017 bow for four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert; and Holy Bull victor #11 Irish War Cry (12-1).
KDFW3 runs concurrently with the only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (KOFW). However, KDFW3 closes at 6 p.m. on Sunday and the KOFW a half-hour later.