The post position draw is one of the most crucial aspects of the Kentucky Derby.
Post No. 1 has produced eight winners since the use of a starting gate in 1930, but no horse has won from there since Ferdinand in 1986. (Sorry, Black Onyx.)
Jockeys also like to avoid the auxiliary starting gate, which holds the six outside horses in the field of 20, although Mario Gutierrez and I'll Have Another won at Churchill last year out of spot No. 19.
Several other positions are both wanted and feared, and it's clear that no other factor has the propensity to sway the odds as much as post position.
Let's take a look at where each horse stands in this year's field (via the Kentucky Derby's official Twitter account) and which long shots saw their chances significantly improve on Wednesday.
|1||Black Onyx ||Joe Bravo ||Kelly Breen|
|2||Oxbow ||Gary Stevens ||D. Wayne Lukas|
|3||Revolutionary||Calvin Borel||Todd Pletcher|
|4||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart|
|5||Normandy Invasion ||Javier Castellano ||Chad Brown|
|6||Mylute ||Rosie Napravnik ||Tom Amoss|
|7||Giant Finish||Jose L. Espinoza||Anthony W. Dutrow|
|8||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill|
|9||Overanalyze||Rafael Bejarano||Todd Pletcher|
|10||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher|
|11||Lines of Battle||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien|
|12||Itsmyluckyday||Elvis Trujillo||Eddie Plesa, Jr.|
|13||Falling Sky||Luis Saez||John Terranova II|
|14||Verrazano ||John R. Velazquez ||Todd Pletcher|
|15||Charming Kitten ||Edgar Prado ||Todd Pletcher|
|16||Orb||Joel Rosario ||Claude R. McGaughey III|
|17||Will Take Charge||Jon Court ||D. Wayne Lukas|
|18||Frac Daddy||Victor Lebron||Kenny McPeek|
|19||Java's War||Julien Leparoux||Kenny McPeek|
|20||Vyjack||Garrett Gomez ||Rudy Rodriguez|
Long Shots to Watch
Palace Malice (No. 10)
Since 1930, the No. 10 position has seen its horse go 76-9-6-9. That's a win percentage of 11.8 and an in-the-money percentage of a staggering 31.6, both of which are the highest in the field.
Most recently, Giacomo, led by legendary jockey Mike Smith, won out of that spot in 2005.
The jockey riding Palace Malice out of the same position this year?
Yeah, it's Mike Smith. Giddy up.
Revolutionary (No. 3)
I'll admit that this one probably depends on your definition of "long shot," but it seems like most are overlooking Revolutionary for the likes of Orb, Verrazano and Goldencents.
So, while the three-year-old colt isn't a true long shot at 10-1 according to Beth Harris of the Associated Press (via NBC Sports), this post position bumps him up to my clear favorite. That's a big enough boost that it deserves mention.
The inside three positions aren't usually sought-out spots. Getting caught on the inside can end your race in a heartbeat.
But not for Calvin Borel (via Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde):
The three-time Derby winner loves the rail, and this spot will make him incredibly dangerous on Saturday.
Will Take Charge (No. 17)
Bettors tend to focus on horses in the first 10 positions, but as of late, that's been a massive mistake.
Let's take a look at the winners coming from the auxiliary gate since the turn of the century:
Fusaichi Pegasus (No. 15) in 2000, Monarchos (No. 16) in 2001, Big Brown (No. 20) in 2008, Animal Kingdom (No. 16) in 2011 and I'll Have Another (No. 19) in 2012.
Not only has the outside produced five winners in the past 13 races, but the last two have also been fairly unexpected.
It's always worth it to take a risk on a horse coming from the outside, and Will Take Charge—who is coming off a win at the Rebel Stakes and will be right next to the speedy Orb—looks like a sneaky pick.