While many things go into winning the Kentucky Derby, getting the right post can go a long way. For this reason, fans across the country will be tuned in to the draw to see which horses can get the advantage.
The common thinking used to be that you did not want to be too far outside, because it is a longer way to run to get in front of the pack. However, recent history has proved that the auxiliary gate can produce winners.
Big Brown started this phenomenon in 2008 by winning from the No. 20 post. In the past three years, this feat has been replicated by Animal Kingdom (16), I'll Have Another (19) and Orb (16).
What we are seeing is jockeys avoiding the traffic that usually comes in the first straightaway and instead getting cleaner starts, leading to stronger finishes. Considering no horse has won the Derby from the No. 1 or No. 2 post since Ferdinand in 1986, this theory makes sense.
Still, each entry has its preference and will hope to get good news this week. Here is a look at everything you need to know heading into the post position draw.
What: Post Position Draw
When: Wednesday, April 30
Time: 5 p.m. ET
TV Info: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Dance With Fate||20-1|
|Ride On Curlin||20-1|
|Vicar's In Trouble||20-1|
|General a Rod||33-1|
|We Miss Artie||40-1|
|Pablo Del Monte||50-1|
via Odds Shark
California Chrome comes into the race as the favorite after an impressive streak leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He has won four events in a row since Victor Espinoza took over as jockey, including the recent Santa Anita Derby.
Longtime trainer Art Sherman is certainly hopeful about his horse's chances, via the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Art Sherman on California Chrome "We need heroes right now, and I'm hoping he's one of them."— horseracinghl (@horseracinghl) April 29, 2014
Of course, California Chrome is not the only "hero" in the competition. A few entries are competing for great causes, according to Teresa Genaro of Forbes:
Wicked Strong (#4 in points), whose name alludes to his owner’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, will run for The One Fund Boston, which supports those affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. A portion of Uncle Sigh’s earnings (he’s at #17 in points) go to two veterans’ charities: Retrieving Freedom, which trains service dogs for placement with veterans, children with autism and adults and children with diabetes., and Task Force Dagger Foundation, which supports the families of those wounded, ill, or injured as a result of their military service. Uncle Sigh is owned by Wounded Warrior Stables and Anthony C. Robinson.
Wicked Strong is the most likely to end up in the winner's circle in this group, as he recently earned an impressive win at the Wood Memorial. The race featured a loaded field that included Samraat, Social Inclusion and other high-profile horses, but Wicked Strong was able to close well in a come-from-behind win.
Another horse to watch out for is Hoppertunity, who won the Rebel Stakes but only managed second in the Santa Anita Derby.
The good news is that Bob Baffert knows how to get his thoroughbreds ready for the spotlight. The legendary trainer has won nine Triple Crown races in his career, including three wins at the Kentucky Derby.
Steve Byk of At the Races discusses how well the horse has performed in training:
Hoppertunity with best effort of KD-KO session going 5f in 1:00.25 after 12.0, 24.2, 35.3 splits. Strong 6f gallop in 1:13.1, 7f in 1:26.3.— Steve Byk (@Steve_Byk) April 23, 2014
Still, the horses will likely have to deal with sloppy conditions similar to what we have seen in recent years at Churchill Downs. As Mark Boxley of The Courier-Journal notes, "Derby Day should be mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain and a high of about 59 degrees, the weather service said. Saturday's low is forecast to drop to about 43 degrees."
There has been plenty of rain at Churchill Downs early in the week, as captured by Lone State Park:
No matter how the weather turns out on Saturday, this is certain to be an exciting race with a number of different contenders all capable of finishing in first place.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.