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Classic Empire, Malagacy favorites for Saturday's Arkansas Derby

Classic Empire (Courtesy Oaklawn Park)

Classic Empire has drawn the No. 2 post and is the early 8-5 favorite for Saturday's Arkansas Derby.

Oaklawn Park drew the post positions Wednesday afternoon.

Classic Empire, John Oxley’s Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male, is scheduled to arrive Wednesday. A son of Pioneer of the Nile, Classic Empire was a unanimous choice for champion 2-year-old male last year after winning 4 of 5 starts, highlighted by the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity Oct. 8 at Keeneland and the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 5 at Santa Anita. In his only start this year, Classic Empire finished third in the $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes Feb. 4 at Gulfstream Park.

Another horse to keep your eye on: Malagacy, given 2-1 odds and the No. 12 post. He is unbeaten in three career starts, including the $900,000 Rebel Stakes.

The $1 million Arkansas Derby is the country's final major Kentucky Derby prep. Post time Saturday is 6:18 p.m.

The Arkansas Derby offers 170 points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the May 6 Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters, with points earned in designated races used to determine starting preference if the race oversubscribes. Malagacy ranks 12th with 50 points (all earned in the Rebel). Classic Empire is 21st with 32 points.

The Arkansas Derby draw is as follows, with jockey in parenthesis:

1. Rockin Rudy (Mario Guttierez), 12-1

2. Classic Empire (Julian Leparoux), 8-5

3. Silver Dust (Corey Lanerie), 20-1

4. Petrov (Ricardo Santana, Jr.), 12-1

5. Grandpa's Dream (Alex Canchari): 30-1

6. Lookin at Lee (Luis Contreras), 15-1

7. Sonneteer (Kent Desormeaux), 15-1

8. Rowdy the Warrior (Luis Quinonez), 30-1

9. Untrapped (Mike Smith), 6-1

10. One Dreamy Dude (Geovanni Franco), 50-1

11. Conquest Mo Money (Jorge Carreno), 15-1

12. Malagacy (Javier Castellano), 2-1

Stay with Channel 7 for full coverage from Hot Springs.

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