LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The only time Victor Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby was aboard War Emblem in 2002. They broke from the No. 5 post, the same position from which he will start the 140th edition of the race with early 5-2 favorite California Chrome.
"Hopefully, that's my lucky number," Espinoza said Wednesday.
Eight horses have won from there, most recently Funny Cide in 2003.
"I think it's a perfect spot," trainer Art Sherman said. "I think we break clean, he'll get out of a lot of trouble."
At 77, Sherman could become the oldest trainer to win the Derby, surpassing Charlie Whittingham's record of 76 when Sunday Silence won in 1989.
California Chrome goes into the Derby having won his last four starts by a combined 241/4 lengths.
Hoppertunity was made the 6-1 second choice in the full field of 20 horses.
Hoppertunity, who lost to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, drew the No. 11 post for Saturday's race at Churchill Downs. He is trained by Bob Baffert, a three-time Derby winner.
Dynaformer colt in race
The Derby will be Medal Count's third race in less than a month. Most runners in the field have had at least three weeks' rest. Orb had a 34-day break before winning last year's Derby.
Medal Count is a throwback to an era when horses made more starts over longer seasons. Cannonade ran twice in one week in winning the 1974 Derby.
Medal Count's last two efforts came on the synthetic track at Keeneland. He captured the Transylvania Stakes on April 4 and was a fast-finishing second in the Blue Grass Stakes eight days later.
Trainer Dale Romans believes that the stout son of the late Dynaformer has the pedigree to handle the workload. And he's sorry to see the bloodline end.
Dynaformer died two years ago. He was best known as the sire of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro.
"I think he was a very good sire," Romans said. "If we could get a good Dynaformer colt like this into the breeding shed, I think it would be important for the future of racing. Those are good, rugged, hearty horses."
Barbaro suffered a catastrophic breakdown in the Preakness that led to his demise after a fight for survival.
"It's just a shame what happened with Barbaro, that he couldn't get to the breeding shed with those bloodlines," Romans said.
The jockey who rode Secretariat to the Triple Crown said he was skipping the Kentucky Derby after being snubbed by the track's management.
Ron Turcotte, the paralyzed Hall of Fame rider, said he couldn't get a parking spot during his last Derby Day visit to Churchill Downs, and then couldn't even get into the track to watch last year's race.
The two-time Derby winner said he was so disgusted by the way he was treated that he decided not to attend the 140th Run for the Roses.
"I just couldn't believe that they would treat people like that," he said in a phone interview.
Turcotte was paralyzed in a riding accident in 1978.
Track spokesman John Asher said that any snub was the result of a "communication breakdown," and he promised that the track would "fix it."