Kentucky Derby Draw 2014: Post Positions, Field and Race Preview

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIApril 30, 2014

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 30:  California Chrome ridden by William Delgado trains on the track during the morning exercise session in preparation for the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 30, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Wednesday marked the post position draw for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, which now makes the chase for the first jewel of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs easier to gauge.

California Chrome is the prohibitive morning-line favorite at 5-2, but his No. 5 post position wasn't quite what his connections were hoping for. Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated provided his analysis:

The past three winners of the Kentucky Derby have come from the auxiliary gate, dismissing the notion that drawing an outside post is a disadvantage. Traffic trouble can also plague those closer to the rail, particularly in the No. 1 position, which is Vicar's In Trouble's spot.

Below is a closer look at the complete field for this year's Run for the Roses in Louisville, Ky. along with a preview of what to expect in Saturday's race.


2014 Kentucky Derby Post Positions
PostHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1Vicar's In TroubleRosie NapravnikMike Maker30-1
2Harry's HolidayCorey LanerieMike Maker50-1
3Uncle SighIrad Ortiz Jr.Gary Contessa30-1
4DanzaJoe BravoTodd Pletcher10-1
5California ChromeVictor EspinozaArt Sherman5-2
6SamraatJose OrtizRick Violette Jr.15-1
7We Miss ArtieJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher50-1
8General A RodJoel RosarioMike Maker15-1
9VinceremosJoe Rococo Jr.Todd Pletcher30-1
10Wildcat RedLuis SaezJose Garoffalo15-1
11HoppertunityMike SmithBob Baffert6-1
12Dance With FateCorey NakataniPeter Eurton20-1
13ChituMartin GarciaBob Baffert20-1
14Medal CountRobby AlbaradoDale Romans20-1
15TapitureRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen15-1
16Intense HolidayJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher12-1
17Commanding CurveShaun BridgmohanDallas Stewart50-1
18Candy BoyGary StevensJohn Sadler20-1
19Ride On CurlinCalvin BorelBilly Gowan15-1
20Wicked StrongRajiv MaraghJimmy Jerkens8-1
Source: NBC Sports Network broadcast


Race Preview

Danza is sandwiched between a speedy long shot and the No. 1 Kentucky Derby favorite.
Danza is sandwiched between a speedy long shot and the No. 1 Kentucky Derby favorite.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Uncle Sigh's speed from the third post should expedite the pace of the race regardless of track conditions, which may create even more traffic in the beginning.

Between Arkansas Derby winner Danza in the fourth slot and California Chrome next furthest from the rail, there is a lot of firepower in close proximity. Perhaps the only knock on California Chrome is that he doesn't break all that well, and that threatens to make his task to charge to victory a tall one if he falls too far off the pace from the starting gates.

But there is some reason to be optimistic about California Chrome living up to the hype—even beyond his dominant wins in his past four races. Victor Espinoza will be in the saddle, running from the same spot he won this year's Santa Anita Derby—and at Churchill Downs aboard War Emblem in 2002:

Jockey Calvin Borel loves to hug the inside of the track, and he has won this race three times before. That figures to give Ride On Curlin a great chance from post 19 as a trendy pick to finish in the money. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports weighed in on Ride On Curlin's situation:

One of the most notable draws was Wicked Strong starting furthest from the rail at No. 20. Wicked Strong is still commanding a lot of respect in the morning line with short 8-1 odds. Even though this is trainer Jimmy Jerkens' first Kentucky Derby starter, Wicked Strong has as good a chance as any in the auxiliary gate to make it to the winner's circle.

Just about anyone on the outside can win, though. Todd Pletcher's Intense Holiday will be ridden by John Velazquez, and Gary Stevens will seek his fourth Kentucky Derby triumph aboard Candy Boy. Tapiture's connections aren't quite as superb, yet he does have a previous win at Churchill Downs in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Local product Hoppertunity is in an excellent place to thrive. With strong Hall of Fame connections in trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith—along with an exceptional No. 11 post position—all signs point to Hoppertunity putting together a strong run.

One relative dark horse to watch for is just inside of Hoppertunity in Wildcat Red, who lost the Florida Derby by a nose to Constitution and figures to be a factor in the Kentucky Derby after that stellar performance.

Louisville handicapper and journalist J.J. Hysell noted how Wildcat Red's trainer Jose Garoffalo wanted to be somewhere in the middle of the draw:

NBC Sports Network analyst Randy Moss perhaps put it best in summarizing his feelings on the race when all the post positions were revealed, per the Daily Racing Form's Matt Hegarty:

Moss is correct—because the draw definitely shook up the landscape.

It's difficult to consider California Chrome the runaway favorite now. He has two fleet-footed horses flanking him on either side. Borel will be surging from the outside as soon as possible, while seasoned jockey Rosie Napravnik will be fighting hard to get Vicar's In Trouble off the rail right from the jump.

The premium contenders from the inside could very well exhaust themselves well before the final stretch in this 10-furlong jaunt. That only enhances the chances of Hoppertunity winning on his native state's soil, but he will have to hold off a slew of challengers from the auxiliary gate if he holds the lead into the final turn.

Following the randomness that accompanies the post position draw, pure chance has created one of the most exciting and wide-open editions of the Kentucky Derby in recent memory.