Now that the field is officially set for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, the pretenders can be separated from the contenders.
Before Wednesday's post position draw, you could generally pick out the stronger horses from the weaker ones based on past results, pedigree, trainer, jockey, etc.
However, a bad post position can sink even the biggest favorite, while getting a prime spot can turn a fringe hopeful into a top favorite.
Here's a look at the full 20-horse field, courtesy of NBC Sports Network.
|2014 Kentucky Derby Post Positions|
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||30-1|
|7||We Miss Artie||50-1|
|8||General A Rod||15-1|
|12||Dance With Fate||20-1|
|19||Ride on Curlin||15-1|
|NBC Sports Network broadcast|
The biggest loser was by far Vicar's In Trouble. He and jockey Rosie Napravnik got stuck in the first position and were coincidentally the first to learn their fate:
Drawing No. 1 is essentially a death sentence in terms of winning the Derby. It's nearly impossible to jump out far enough early enough in the race so that you aren't pressed against the rails and have no room to move. Napravnik will need every ounce of her talent and a bit of luck in order to come out on top.
Even trainer Mike Maker seemed resigned to his fate, per KentuckyDerby.com's Darren Rogers:
I know we didn't have much choice, but I don't have to walk too far to saddle the horses, and maybe our riders will be friendly and give each other enough space. Hopefully, we get a good break out of Vicar like we usually do, and we get a good position pretty early.
Following the post draw, the odds-on favorite remains California Chrome. Getting drawn at No. 5 isn't perfect, but it doesn't drastically limit his potential, either. It is only one spot over from the optimal 6-to-11 range.
California Chrome has won his last four races, dating back to December 2013, and has six wins in 10 starts. Between that record and having an experienced jockey like Victor Espinoza, this three-year-old is poised to make his presence felt at the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
What is possibly a good omen is the fact that Espinoza started out in the fifth position with War Emblem when he won the 2002 Kentucky Derby.
One of the favorites who didn't fare so well was Wicked Strong, who drew the 20th position. For many horses, that's too far off the rail in order to get near the lead. Layden believes that Wicked Strong possesses the closing ability to make up for what's bound to be a slow start:
The Wood Memorial demonstrated that Wicked Strong can make up ground during the final stretch. As long as jockey Rajiv Maragh keeps the horse near the top of the pack and leaves a path to make a pass, starting so far outside shouldn't become a major problem.
Essentially, a post position is what the jockeys and horses make of it.
Those who got the luck of the draw shouldn't take too much for granted, because there's still a race to run, while those who feel a bit disappointed shouldn't wallow in their self-pity for too long, or the Derby is over before it even begins.
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