The post position draw (the order the horses go into the starting gate) for this year’s Kentucky Derby was this afternoon and as usual, it created its own special kind of drama. Unlike most American races, which are usually restricted to 15 or fewer runners, depending upon the track, Churchill Downs adds a special auxiliary gate for the Kentucky Derby which allows 20 total horses to start on Saturday and with that mad dash for the first turn, where you draw matters.
With 20 horses jumping from a standing start all at once, being too far in or too far out can make a big difference in America’s most prestigious horse race. Since 1900, the 1 and the 5 post have produced with most Kentucky Derby winners, although since the advent of bigger fields in the 1990’s, no horse has won from that spot since Ferdinand in 1986. A quick look at this guide from kentuckyderby.com tells a pretty good story of where you want to be on Saturday:
So when we take a look at who ended up where this year, we know that those poor souls on the far outside (posts 17-20) have their work cut out for them. As it would happen, one of the would be favorites, Wicked Strong, ended up in the furthest outside post, 20, where only one horse has ever won before, I’ll Have Another in 2012.
Kentucky Derby favorite, California Chrome, got the sweet spot in the five hole (where no less than 8 horses have started their winning run from, most recently with Funny Cide in 2003). That earned him the official title of “morning line favorite” when the Churchill Downs oddsmaker put him at a prohibitive 5-2.
Other key horses in the race ended up in the 11-hold (Hoppertunity), the 4-hole (Danza) and the 15-hole (Tapiture). It is always a mad calvary run and it should be interesting to see which horses have the mental fortitude to deal with the traffic jam. The full list of Derby post positions is below: