History tells us that a horse's starting post at the Kentucky Derby can influence how it fares over the 1 1/4-mile dirt track at Churchill Downs.
While I'll Have Another's memorable win from post 19 contradicts that belief, it must be noted that the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner was the exception and not the norm. Recently, horses starting closer to the rail but not directly on it have fared the best.
Eleven of the past 20 Derby winners have started within posts Nos. 3 though 10.
Outside of that range, posts Nos. 16 and 15 have fared the best, producing a combined six winners over the past 20 Kentucky Derby races.
History isn't what's often holding these horses back, however. There's something to be said for starting on the rail, in the middle of the pack and on the far outside. Depending on how a horse likes to run, a post draw from inside or outside can make all the difference.
Here we'll take a closer look at a trio of horses who will struggle with their difficult draw this weekend.
2013 Kentucky Derby | Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky. | Purse: $2.18 Million | Grade I | Distance: 10 furlongs | Post Time: 7-7:30 p.m. ET
|1||Black Onyx ||Joe Bravo ||Kelly Breen ||50-1|
|2||Oxbow ||Gary Stevens ||D. Wayne Lukas ||30-1|
|3||Revolutionary||Calvin Borel||Todd Pletcher ||10-1|
|4||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||50-1|
|5||Normandy Invasion ||Javier Castellano ||Chad Brown ||12-1|
|6||Mylute ||Rosie Napravnik ||Tom Amoss ||15-1|
|7||Giant Finish||Jose L. Espinoza||Anthony W. Dutrow||50-1|
|8||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||5-1|
|9||Overanalyze||Rafael Bejarano||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|10||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||20-1|
|11||Lines of Battle||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien||30-1|
|12||Itsmyluckyday||Elvis Trujillo||Eddie Plesa, Jr.||15-1|
|13||Falling Sky||Luis Saez||John Terranova II||50-1|
|14||Verrazano ||John R. Velazquez ||Todd Pletcher ||4-1|
|15||Charming Kitten ||Edgar Prado ||Todd Pletcher ||20-1|
|16||Orb||Joel Rosario ||Claude R. McGaughey III ||7/2|
|17||Will Take Charge||Jon Court ||D. Wayne Lukas ||20-1|
|18||Frac Daddy||Victor Lebron||Kenny McPeek ||50-1|
|19||Java's War||Julien Leparoux||Kenny McPeek||15-1|
|20||Vyjack||Garrett Gomez ||Rudy Rodriguez ||15-1|
Will Take Charge, 20-1, Post No. 17
Considering no horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby from post No. 17, it's safe to say that Will Take Charge will be up against it on Saturday.
D. Wayne Lukas' horse is a long shot to win already, but will have to overcome history much like I'll Have Another did in 2012 to become the first-ever Derby winner from post No. 19.
On the bright side, there's a first time for everything.
The bad news, the Grade II Rebel Stakes winner will start from the middle of the auxiliary gate, three spots down from the last post and 16 spots off the rail. This post features no advantage. Even post No. 20 offers a bit of room out of the gate.
Will Take Charge's last two wins came from posts Nos. 7 and 9 at the Rebel Stakes and Smarty Jones Stakes respectively.
Java's War, 15-1, Post No. 19
Like Will Take Charge, Java's War will start from a post that has been difficult to win from historically. Although I'll Have Another shocked Bodemeister from post No. 19 in 2012, the start from way outside doesn't bode well for Java's War.
The colt won the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes last month, but started much closer to the inside in that race in Keeneland, running from post No. 4.
Jockey Julien Leparoux will have his work cut out for him this weekend as he aims to lead Java's War from the second-farthest gate out to the front at Churchill Downs. It will all depend on how quickly Java's War can make up the ground and approach the rail.
This is a very capable horse, but one whose chances have been hurt by drawing an unfavorable post this weekend.
Oxbow, 30-1, Post No. 2
While post Nos. 1 and 2 have produced a combined 21 Kentucky Derby winners since 1900, neither post has been favorable over the past three or so decades. Post No. 2, where Oxbow will run from on Saturday, hasn't produced a Derby champion since the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, in 1978.
That said, Oxbow will likely struggle down the stretch of this weekend's race considering his starting slot will put him close to the rail early on, making him an easy target for the favorites.
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde said it best.
Pat Forde @YahooForde
Oxbow draws the 2. Long shot gets longer. Black Onyx buried in the 1 hole. See ya.5/1/2013, 9:40:17 PM
There's a handful of talented thoroughbreds in this year's 20-horse field, and jockey Gary Stevens can't be too confident running out of post No. 2. After all, Oxbow started well off the rail in post No. 9 in his best outing recently, placing second in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park last March.
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