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Classic Empire is the early 4-1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby, which has a full 20-horse field. The colt will break from the number 14 post on Saturday with jockey Julian Leparoux aboard.

Trainer Mark Casse — who’s trying for his first Kentucky Derby victory — got his wish for a spot near the middle of the pack.

“If things don’t go right and say, he breaks a step slow, Julian will have the ability to take him back and come around,” said Casse. “There’s such a long run down the first turn and he has such great speed that you can do that.”

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.

Irish War Cry is the next choice at 6-1 odds and drew the number 17 post. Patch, the Derby contender with one eye, drew the number 20 spot on the far outside.

At the other end, trainer Steve Asmussen’s colt, Lookin’ At Lee, will break from the first spot along the rail. Asmussen said he doesn’t mind the inside post, though he joked the statistics are not in his favor.

“I’m 0 for 15 in the Derby and the one hole has not lit the board in 20 years,” he said. “Maybe it took both of them coming together to cure that.”

Also eligible for the Derby are Royal Mo and Master Plan, who would need defections by early Friday morning to get into the race.

More than 150,000 fans are expected to gather at Churchill Downs for Saturday’s Derby, the first leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

Post time for Derby 143 is 6:46 p.m. Eastern time.

Here’s the full field, courtesy of the Kentucky Derby website:

1. Lookin At Lee (Corey Lanerie, 20-1)

2. Thunder Snow (Ire) (Christophe Soumillon, 20-1)

3. Fast and Accurate (Channing Hill, 50-1)

4. Untrapped (Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1)

5. Always Dreaming (John Velazquez, 5-1)

6. State of Honor (Jose Lezcano, 30-1)

7. Girvin (Mike Smith, 15-1)

8. Hence (Florent Geroux, 15-1)

9. Irap (Mario Gutierrez, 20-1)

10. Gunnevera (Javier Castellano, 15-1)

11. Battle of Midway (Flavien Prat, 30-1)

12. Sonneteer (Kent Desormeaux, 50-1)

13. J Boys Echo (Luis Saez, 20-1)

14. Classic Empire (Julien Leparoux, 4-1)

15. McCraken (Brian Hernandez Jr., 5-1)

16. Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz, 20-1)

17. Irish War Cry (Rajiv Maragh, 6-1)

18. Gormley (Victor Espinoza, 15-1)

19. Practical Joke (Joel Rosario, 20-1)

20. Patch (Tyler Gaffalione, 30-1)

AE-21. Royal Mo (Gary Stevens, 20-1)

AE-22. Master Plan (John Velazquez, 50-1)

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Managing Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.