04/01/2017 7:10AM

Classic Empire bet to early favoritism in Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Barbara D. Livingston
Classic Empire, bet down to 9-2 on the first day of Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, runs next April 15 in the Arkansas Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Classic Empire was a slight favorite after the first of three days of betting into Pool 4 of the 2017 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but the results of two major prep races Saturday will go a long way in determining the final odds when the pool closes Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern.

As of Saturday morning, with $58,934 in the win pool, Classic Empire was the 9-2 choice, followed by Gunnevera (6-1), McCraken (7-1), and Tapwrit (8-1). Another $22,337 had been bet in exactas. Pool 4 opened Friday at noon Eastern.

The Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby are set for Saturday, so many fans will be waiting until after those results are known to make their wagers. Odds don’t become locked in until the pool closes.

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Classic Empire, the 2-year-old champion of 2016, is scheduled to make his next start in the April 15 Arkansas Derby. Gunnevera runs Saturday in the Florida Derby. McCraken and Tapwrit are headed to the Blue Grass Stakes next Saturday, April 8.

The mutuel field, the 24th or “all others” option, closed as the favorite in the first three pools, which were held Nov. 24-27, Jan. 27-29, and Feb. 24-26. Seven horses have been separately listed in all four pools: Classic Empire, Gormley, Gunnevera, Irish War Cry, McCraken, Mo Town, and Practical Joke.

Aggregate handle for the first three pools, including the Derby Sires wager which coincided with Pool 1, stands at $969,346. The record for aggregate handle for an entire year remains $1,665,990, set in 2005.

Last year, Nyquist closed as the 3-1 favorite in Pool 4 before winning the Derby at 2-1. Total handle on that pool was $435,357.

Win and exacta wagering are available at a $2 minimum, although exactas can be split into $1 increments in boxes or part-wheels. In the case of field horses filling both exacta slots, the next-best finish by a separately listed horse will count toward the winning combination.

Real-time odds and will-pays are available through various modes, including on television monitors at tracks and wagering outlets, as well as at kentuckyderby.com.

The 143rd Derby is set for May 6.