How will the post positions affect each horse and the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby? We break it down below.
Kentucky Derby (G1) – Churchill Downs – $2,000,000 – 1 1/4 miles – Dirt
Post Position #1. Daddy Long Legs – Trainer Aidan O’Brien – Odds 30/1
The U.A.E. Derby winner in Dubai got the dreaded inside post. It’s always a tough race when coming from the inside. He’s a wildcard in the race as we’ve only seen him on US soil once. If we take his 12th place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, then he doesn’t have a chance. If we take his last two races, both wins in England and Dubai, then he has a good chance. Last year, Master of Hounds finished 2nd in the U.AE. Derby then finished 5th in the Derby. The #1 post does not help no matter where he needs to be early in the race.
Post Position #2. Optimizer – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas – Jockey Jon Court – Odds 50/1
The only good thing about getting the #2 post position is that it doesn’t affect him as much as if he needed to get the lead. He will be taken back by veteran jockey Jon Court and look to make a move late. He gets in after Mark Valeski was withdrawn. He has just one in nine races and that was his maiden win first time out on turf last August. His best race in 2012 was two races ago when he finished 2nd to Secret Circle in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. In the Arkansas Derby, he was steadied early and was never a factor while finishing 9th.
Post Position #3. Take Charge Indy – Trainer Patrick Byrne – Jockey Calvin Borel – Odds 15/1
The Florida Derby winner will need to have a good break to get out to the lead or close to it. It’s always a tough challenge. He has the hottest Derby jockey over the last few years to guide him. That will help. Last race, he was able to get the lead and sit on. He had plenty left in the tank at the end and made it tough for anyone to catch up to him. He will not have the same luxury this weekend.
Post Position #4. Union Rags – Trainer Michael Matz – Jockey Julien Leparoux – Odds 9/2
The three time graded stakes winner including this year’s Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park will have his work cut out for him from the #4 position. He doesn’t need the lead but with Take Charge Indy inside of him wanting to get a quick clean gate, they hope he doesn’t get bumped early. It does help with Dullahan to his outside as Desormeaux will hold him back early as he is a late runner.
Post Position #5. Dullahan – Trainer Dale Romans – Jockey Kent Desormeaux – Odds 8/1
I don’t think it mattered what post position this colt received as he will set back as mentioned above. Desormeaux did an amazing job with him in the Blue Grass Stakes. He sat back early, waited to make his move down the stretch and passed a tired Hansen en route to a comfortable win. If he can stay clear of traffic as they hit the far turn and down the stretch, he will be tough to hold off.
Post Position #6. Bodemeister – Trainer Bob Baffert – Jockey Mike Smith – Odds 4/1
This post could have been much worse for the Arkansas Derby winner, but racing luck is already on his side. The #6 post could have been a tough spot, but he drew two horses on each side of him that dont want the early lead. In fact, both Dullahan and Rousing Sermon will be brought far back early. Mike Smith will still need to be alert and get out fast, but this COULD have spelled trouble.
Post Position #7. Rousing Sermon – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer – Jockey Jose Lezcano – Odds 50/1
Is it finally going to be his time to shine or will he once again fall just short? For months, many racing pundits have said “wait until he gets the onger distance, such as the Derby 1 1/4 miles”. Well, that time has come for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and his two-time graded stakes runner-up. The #7 position will not be a factor. New rider Lezcano will drop him far back and wait for his time to move. As the same with Dullahan and any late runner in the Derby, a clean trip is the only way they get a serious chance at winning.
Post Position #8. Creative Cause – Trainer Mike Harrington – Jockey Joel Rosario – Odds 15/1
This is a good spot for Mike Harrington’s gray colt. The multiple graded stakes winner including this year’s San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita will be able to assume his position off the lead from the #7 post. To his outside, Trinniberg NEEDS the lead. To his inside, Rousing Sermon will be dropped back. The only concern for this horse is that he will be part of the pack of horses who will rate. Rosario will need to keep him off the rail with no chance of being locked in when he needs to make his move as they turn for home.
Post Position #9. Trinniberg – Rainer Bisnath Parboo – Jockey Willie Martinez – Odds 50/1
Another multiple graded stakes winner, but only at distances of seven furlongs or less will definitely need a good break from the gate regardless of the perfect post of #9. With 19 other horses to deal with, a good gate is a must. The #9 spot allows him to go straight instead of coming off the rail if he were on the inside post and back to the middle from an outside post. We already know he wants the lead based on past performance and the fact his trainer didn’t hide it when he decided to enter the Derby.
Post Position #10. Daddy Nose Best – Trainer Steven Asmussen – Jockey Garrett Gomez – Odds 15/1
This is a good spot for the two-time graded stakes winner. He should be able to go straight out, barring a mishap, and take his position behind the leaders. If he can make a move like he did in the Sunland Derby, he could be one to upset the field. He has veteran jockey, veteran trainer and won’t have to travel as much as those that will be behind him.
Post Position #11. Alpha – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin – Jockey Rajiv Maragh – Odds 15/1
Alpha is the same as Daddy Nose Best. He doesn’t need the lead, he just needs a clean break to stay close to the leaders. The #10 post is a perfect spot. If he can improve on his last performance where he lost by a mere neck to Gemologist, he could be tough in this race. I believe his experience against a solid horse like Gemologist will enhance his chances in the Derby.
Post Position #12. Prospective – Trainer Mark Casse – Jockey Luis Contreras – Odds 30/1
Nothing wrong with the #12 position for the leading Woodbine trainer and jockey combination. The Tampa Bay Derby winner Prospective will be able to come out and take his position in the middle of the field. A quick gate is not a must, but a clean break would be good. He swung wide for half of the Blue Grass Stakes and didn’t have much left when needed down the stretch. If he can save ground during the early stages of the race, and stay out of traffic trouble late, he could be another to make some noise near the end. The field is certainly tougher than the Tampa Derby, but Casse is a quality trainer who will have this horse ready to run.
Post Position #13. Went the Day Well – Trainer Graham Motion – Jockey John Velasquez – Odds 20/1
Can the same connections and jockey with back to back years? It would be impressive if they do. Last year, owners Team Valor International, Graham Motion and Johnny V won with Animal Kingdom. AK came from post position #16, Went the Day Well will go from the #13 spot. It shouldn’t affect him too much as long as he comes out clean. The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes winner will want to be close to the lead, but not on it. The main factor will be if Velasquez can get him to ease into a rate position about 2-3 lengths behind. The speed is anticipated to be very quick. He will not want to be too close.
Post Position #14. Hansen – Trainer Michael Maker – Jockey Ramon Dominguez – Odds 10/1
It came down the post position #1 and #14 for the final two selections. The cheering from the connections when they heard #14 was loud. If they received the #1 spot, it was all but over for the two year old Eclipse champion. He has been given a good opportunity to get the needed lead that he’s had each and of his six race career. It seems he will be battling with Trinniberg and Bodemeister and those two got more inside posts. When it comes down to it, it depends on who gets the most clean and quickest gate, no mater what post. If all three blaze a trail, none of them will be around at the end. Hansen show fatigue at the end of the Blue Grass Stakes last time out. His first trip beyond 1 1/16 miles. If 1 1/8 miles was long, he needs to go another 1/8 mile on Saturday and have more speed than normal to deal with. Tough task.
Post Position #15. Gemologist – Trainer Todd Pletcher – Jockey Javier Castellano – Odds 6/1
Can this colt make it 6 for 6 in his career? He made it clear with his victory in the Resorts World Casino Wood Memorial that he is a force to reckon with. Just ask Ramon Dominguez who was aboard Alpha that day as he tried to pass the two-time graded stakes winner down the stretch. He’ll need a good gate from post 15 as he will want to be close to the lead. He had the lead in his first two starts, but rated more in his last three races. That will be the best path to take come Saturday as he will want nothing to do with the front end early.
Post Position #16. El Padrino – Trainer Todd Pletcher – Jockey Rafael Bejarano – Odds 20/1
Both Pletcher trained horses will be side by side in the gate and could be side by side throughout the entire race. Each will sit off the leaders and wait to make their move around the far turn. In the Risen Star Stakes, this Pulpit colt was flying on all cylinders as he made a strong move down the stretch while going wide the entire way. He caught up at the last moment to defeat Mark Valeski by a nose. He finished less than a second off the Fair Grounds track record for 1 1/16 miles in a time of 1:42.96. In the Florida Derby, he came up flat when needed. He had every chance to make a move on the far turn and down the stretch, but to no avail. Again, he was 4 wide on both turns. That can’t happen again on Saturday or he will finish well back.
Post Position #17. Done Talking – Trainer Hamilton Smith – Jockey Sheldon Russell – Odds 50/1
The underdog of the field. After an unsuccessful attempt in the Remsen Stakes (G2) last November at Aqueduct, he was given the entire winter off. He didn’t race again until March 3 where he ran 10th in the Gotham Stakes (G3). Instead of trying to tackle the big boys in the Wood Memorial, he was sent to Hawthorne. It was a good decision. He came from well off to win the 1 1/8 miles the Illinois Derby (G3). The #17 post will not harm him at all. It actually benefits him as he will be able to come out, take back early and head to the inside with no issues. The key for him is, is he talented enough? If he is, it will come down to staying out of trouble as he tries to pass the whole field.
18. Sabercat – Trainer Steven Asmussen – Jockey Corey Nakatani – Odds 30/1
The second of two Asmussen trained horses will want nothing to do with the lead. So getting the #18 post is not a big deal. The question that looms for this colt is, can he improve even more on the Arkansas Derby result. He qualified for the 2102 Kentucky Derby by merit of winning the $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot Stakes (G3) last November. It’s always a feat to win a race that has such a huge purse, but it doesn’t give anyone an idea of how good he really is. He didn’t race for four months after the Delta win. His return was an 8th place finish in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. He did come back to finish 3rd in the Arkansas Derby, albeit almost 10 lengths behind Bodemeister. He will be far back early. It’s tough to tell if he can make up enough ground to contend. Maybe his 3rd race after the layoff will be better.
19. I’ll Have Another – Trainer Doug O’Neill – Jockey Mario Gutierrez – Odds 12/1
Everything about this horse makes you think underdog. O’Neill was at the Derby in 2007 and finished 13th and 14th, His jockey is new to the big stage after years of being the leading rider at Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC and the horse came off a five month layoff to win the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at odds of 43-1 early February. Since that win, O’Neill, Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another took the Santa Anita Derby as well. The #19 post could pose a problem if he can’t get out quick enough. He will want to be close to the lead, but not on it. He’s been right off the lead in his last two races, but in the Derby, the speed will be quick. He’ll have to rate this time to have a shot. It would be quite the story if he pulls it off.
20. Liaison – Trainer Bob Baffert – Jockey Martin Garcia – Odds 50/1
The Indian Charlie colt has lost his way since capturing his three race winning streak last fall that included the Real Quiet Stakes and Grade 1 CashCall Futurity. This year, he’s finished 8th in the Robert B. Lewis, 4th in the San Felipe and 6th in the Santa Anita. The post position shouldn’t be the concern here. It should be where to settle him in and can he regain his old form.