The 2014 Kentucky Derby is just a few days away, and, with the official post positions set for one of the biggest events in sports, the trainers and jockeys can begin to plan for how they will try to win the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Post positions can play a huge factor in the success of a horse at Churchill Downs. Orb, who was the winner of last year's Kentucky Derby, started out of the No. 15 post, while the two winners before that came out of the No. 19 and No. 16 posts.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the complete post positions for the Kentucky Derby, followed by a preview of some of the top horses to watch for.
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||Skychai Racing LLC, Sand Dollar Stable, LLC, Terry Raymond & Jana Wagner|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||Wounded Warrior Stables & Anthony C. Robertson|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||My Meadowview Farm|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey|
|8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLC|
|9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher||WinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks Racing|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||Honors Stable Corp.|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||Karl Watson, Mike Pegram & Paul Weitman|
|12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||S. Alesia, Bran Jam Stable & Ciaglia Racing, LLC|
|13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||Tanma Corporation|
|14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||Spendthrift Farm|
|15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||Winchell Thoroughbreds|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||Starlight Racing|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||West Point Thoroughbreds|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||C R K Stable LLC|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||Daniel J. Dougherty|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||Centennial Farms|
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This year's clear favorite to win the Derby is California Chrome, and for good reason. The colt has been blowing by the competition in recent races.
California Chrome has been on a complete tear recently. After a couple of rough sixth-place finishes, he's now won four consecutive races, including a dominant win at the Santa Anita Derby at the beginning of April, winning by 5 1/4 lengths.
While trainer Art Sherman was hoping for a post spot closer to the middle, having California Chrome at the No. 5 post isn't the worst thing in the world. It was the same post that the colt came out of at the Santa Anita Derby, but, as Tim Layden from Sports Illustrated points out, California Chrome will have to start strong if he's going to have a shot to win.
California chrome draws the 5. Not great, not disastrous. Gonna have to go a little.— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) April 30, 2014
Jockey Victor Espinoza has had experience at this race, winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2002 with War Emblem. With the recent success from California Chrome, Espinoza's chances of another Triple Crown are better than most.
Vicar's In Trouble
With high expectations heading into the Kentucky Derby, Vicar's In Trouble may be in, well, trouble after grabbing the No. 1 post at the draw on Wednesday.
With the No. 1 post, Vicar's In Trouble will have to start on the very inside of the track, and that can be a big problem for a lot of riders, as he could be pinched between the rail and other horses as the field makes the first turn.
Historically, it's been quite some time since a horse coming out of the No. 1 post won the Derby. There have been eight winners from that post, but the last one was Ferdinand all the way back in 1986, so it would be quite a surprise if Vicar's in Trouble is able to break away.
Still it's not the end of the world for Vicar's In Trouble and the jockey, Rosie Napravnik. The colt has had a lot of success in his first five career races, winning three of them and finishing in the money in each one. Still, Vicar's in Trouble has no Grade 1 experience, and that could hurt his chances.
Rosie Napravnik will attempt to be the first female jockey to win the Derby once again after riding Mylute to a fifth-place finish in last year's race, but the No. 1 post won't help. She'll have some other things on her mind as well as she prepares for the race, as she's reportedly been suspended, but will still ride in the race (h/t John Lewis from WDRB).
Vicar's in Trouble jockey Rosie Napravnik suspended but will still ride in the Derby. She was involved in a DQ during the Derby Trial.— John Lewis WDRB (@JohnLewisTweets) April 30, 2014
Things haven't been going Napravnik's way so far, but, given how well she rode Mylute last year, it's hard to count her out as a contender in this race.