Post position is a crucial factor in horse racing, especially at the Kentucky Derby, where horses and jockeys have minimal room for error.
Where a horse starts doesn't always determine where it finishes, but that doesn't mean a poor draw can't derail a horse's chances.
Below, you'll find the latest race-day odds and starting posts for the 19-horse field.
Date: Saturday, May 3
Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET
Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|2||Vicar's In Trouble||Mike Maker||Rosie Napravnik||20-1|
|3||Harry's Holiday||Mike Maker||Corey Lanerie||50-1|
|4||Uncle Sigh||Gary Contessa||Irad Ortiz Jr.||30-1|
|5||Danza||Todd Pletcher||Joe Bravo||8-1|
|6||California Chrome||Art Sherman||Victor Espinoza||5-2|
|7||Samraat||Rick Violette Jr.||Jose Ortiz||15-1|
|8||We Miss Artie||Todd Pletcher||Javier Castellano||50-1|
|9||General A Rod||Mike Maker||Joel Rosario||15-1|
|10||Vinceremos||Todd Pletcher||Joe Rocco Jr.||30-1|
|11||Wildcat Red||Jose Garoffalo||Luis Saez||15-1|
|12||Dance With Fate||Peter Eurton||Corey Nakatani||20-1|
|13||Chitu||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||20-1|
|14||Medal Count||Dale Romans||Robby Albarado||20-1|
|15||Tapiture||Steve Asmussen||Ricardo Santana Jr.||12-1|
|16||Intense Holiday||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||8-1|
|17||Commanding Curve||Dallas Stewart||Shaun Bridgmohan||50-1|
|18||Candy Boy||John Sadler||Gary Stevens||15-1|
|19||Ride On Curlin||William G. Gowan||Calvin Borel||15-1|
|20||Wicked Strong||James A. Jerkens||Rajiv Maragh||6-1|
|SCRATCHED||Pablo Del Monte||SCRATCHED|
Info via KentuckyDerby.com. Odds via Oddsshark.com
Historically, horses that start closer to the rail have fared better than horses starting outside at the Kentucky Derby. However, it's important to note that smaller Derby fields in the past have contributed to those numbers.
Since 1930, post No. 10 has been by bar the most successful starting slot, with nine horses winning from that gate, the most recent being Giacomo in 2005.
But on Saturday, 30-1 long-shot Vinceremos will start in the 10th post. So, bet on the underdog at your own peril.
While post Nos. 5 and 7 have combined to produce 14 Derby winners since 1930, including recent winners like Funny Cide in 2003 (post No. 5) and Street Sense in 2007 (post No. 7), post No. 6 hasn't been nearly as favorable, boasting just two Derby winners since 1930. Sea Hero was the last horse to win from that post back in 1993.
That's worth noting because odds-on favorite California Chrome will run from the sixth post on Saturday following the withdrawal of Pablo Del Monte on Friday. The scratch has resulted in the first 10 horses being moved down a post.
As Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde points out, trainer Art Sherman should be quite pleased with his horse's draw:
California Chrome gets No. 5. Wanted 6-10 but certainly won't complain about that.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 30, 2014
In fact, Sherman was awfully excited about his horse during Thursday's warm-up, per ESPN.com's Gary West:
"He looked good out there. He's feeling good, and he's doing good. He's coming up to this race right."
You've got to put more stock into California Chrome's past outings than his starting slot. And the bigger issue is that the Santa Anita Derby winner will be surrounded by speedsters, as pointed out by West:
California Chrome's main problem in the Derby could be the pace and his position relative to the other speedsters. He has post position No. 5. To his inside, there are two horses, Uncle Sigh (No. 3) and Vicar's In Trouble (No. 1), who possess considerable natural speed. To the Derby favorite's outside, there are more speedsters -- Samraat (No. 6) and General A Rod (No. 8), but especially Wildcat Red (No. 10) and Chitu (No. 13).
If California Chrome can avoid getting swept up in a sprint, he'll have a chance to take over late. But with 18 other horses to contend with and the 10 furlongs providing a unique challenge to the favorite, there's no telling how things will shake out.
While post position isn't going to be the sole factor for a horse's performance on Saturday, it can provide a vital advantage or crippling disadvantage in some cases and should be factored into your predictions.
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