The 2013 Kentucky Derby's post positions have been revealed, and several contenders in particular have seen their chances of winning diminish based on the draw.
Prohibitive favorites Orb and Verrazano are beginning at Nos. 16 and 14, respectively, which actually benefits both horses due to the increased availability of space on the outside. More room for those horses to operate spells bad news for the field as it is.
There are other talented horses with decent odds, but the spots they are in at the starting gates will make their pursuit of the winner's circle even more arduous.
Here is a breakdown of the top candidates to pull off a victory in the Triple Crown whose post positions put them at a substantial disadvantage.
Note: Post positions, odds and horse statistics, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of KentuckyDerby.com.
No. 3: Revolutionary (10-1)
Todd Pletcher's second-best hope at winning the Run for the Roses has an extremely difficult road ahead to begin the race.
Speedy D. Wayne Lukas-trained Oxbow will be able to dart out in front when the gates open, and 50-1 long shot Golden Soul is very underrated.
Golden Soul was running well at the Louisiana Derby before running out of gas in the final 20 yards. If his tactics are a little better, he should be more of a factor than the odds suggest.
Thus, it will be difficult for Revolutionary to get out in front, as Oxbow will eliminate the ability to pass on the outside in the first turn and Golden Soul will likely force Revolutionary to fall ever so slightly off the pace.
The No. 3 slot is simply an awkward one for those attempting to win, producing the fewest winners of the four inside positions. Traffic at the beginning will be difficult to navigate—especially with other favorites Orb and Verrazano having so much more flexibility and spacing to start.
No. 17: Will Take Charge (20-1)
The physical 50-1 Frac Daddy will be looking to maneuver in the beginning, which will tighten the typical room to operate for Will Take Charge.
Not to mention, Orb is the top favorite at 7-2 and will be flanking him to the left. Orb has the ability to win no matter where he is coming out of the first turn, which will lend to the fast Charming Kitten to explode near the front of the field in the early going.
That isn't exactly ideal for Will Take Charge's prospects, who will be in a convoluted cluster and struggle to get early momentum absent an absolutely perfect start.
D. Wayne Lukas is a wonderful trainer, but he and jockey Jon Court will have to transcend history—no horse has ever won from the No. 17 spot.
That fact, combined with the horses that are lined up in close proximity, makes a win for Will Take Charge nearly unfathomable. It's not as if he isn't strong enough to win, but there is a reason he doesn't fall into the five-horse group that has 15-1 odds.
No. 20: Vyjack (15-1)
J.J. Hysell of the Courier-Journal logs a comment made by trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who intimates disappointment over the starting slot:
When asked about Big Brown winning from post 20, trainer Rudy Rodriguez said, "That was Big Brown. We've got Vyjack." #KyDerby— J.J. Hysell (@trifectabox) May 2, 2013
Big Brown won coming out of the far gate in 2008, but he was also the last clear-cut favorite to capture the first leg of the Triple Crown that year.
Which horse has the best chance of overcoming its difficult post position?
Such is not the case for Vyjack, whose odds are rather favorable but still clusters him in with four other horses at 15-1. With a better post position, there is a possibility that Vyjack would be more prominent in the discussion of favorites.
After four consecutive victories to start his young career, the thoroughbred finished third in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes. He gave Verrazano a serious run but just didn't quite have enough to finish, and Normandy Invasion cruised down the final stretch to beat Vyjack by a nose to Place.
Vyjack does possess exceptional speed and a clear ability to cross the finish line first.
However, starting out furthest from the rail will be too much to overcome—especially with fellow 15-1 contender Java's War at No. 19 and the massive Frac Daddy to the inside of him.