Kentucky Derby 2014 Post Positions: Historical Look at Best Slots in Derby

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IApril 30, 2014

May 5, 2012; Louisville, KY USA; Horses break out of the starting gate at the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs race track. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Not even the slumping first post or winless 17th could keep California Chrome from leaving the gate for the 140th Kentucky Derby as anything but a runaway favorite. 

Of course, if the Art Sherman trainee lands the historically strong 10th or red hot 16th, the odds will be so low it would make it almost pointless to wager on him. 

We'll find out on Wednesday how the field will line up at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May with NBC Sports Network's live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby draw at 5 p.m. ET. The results will play large in determining the morning line. 

In preparation for the draw, let's take a look at how the post positions have fared since 1930, which is the year when the starting gate was first used. 

Kentucky Derby Historical Winners by Post Position (Since 1930)
PostNo. of WinnersMost Recent
181986, Ferdinand
271978, Affirmed
351998, Real Quiet
452010, Super Saver
582003, Funny Cide
621993, Sea Hero
762007, Street Sense
882009, Mine That Bird
941972, Riva Ridge
1092005, Giacomo
1121998, Winning Colors
1231971, Canonero II
1332004, Smarty Jones
1421961, Carry Back
1532000, Fusaichi Pegasus
1652013, Orb
1811982, Gato Del Sol
1912012, I'll Have Another
2012008, Big Brown
Source: KentuckyDerby.com

Trending to the outside

The first two gates used to be a ticket to success, and they remain among the leaders in times having fielded the eventual winner. The winner of the derby, however, has not come out of either the first or second post since Ferdinand did so out of the first in 1986. 

In the large field of the Kentucky Derby, it is easy to get pinned against the rail, or to try and avoid that fate by pushing out a fast, early pace that can't be sustained. 

It's been far more advantageous as of late to be further outside at the Run for the Roses. 

The 16th post has fielded two out of the last three winners. That includes last year's champ, Orb.  

On top of that, since 1995 the winner has started from the 16th post five times.

It's not just the 16th post, either. The 2012 winner, I'll Have Another, started from the 19th post. Also, the 15th post, along with the 16th, is one of just four posts to have fielded multiple winners since 1995.

Although the further outside a horse starts, the further the path is to the finish line, it also presents a clearer path. It is easier to avoid getting pinned in traffic while starting on the outside. This has been paying off lately.

Posts 5-10 are stronger than 11-15

The trend of success moving to the outside does not hold up over the middle half, and being on the outer fourth is not a prerequisite for derby success.

Post positions seven, eight and 10 have combined to field four winners since Giacomo won from the 10th spot in 2005.

In fact, the 10th position has always been dominant and has fielded more winners since 1930 than any other. Although, it certainly has cooled off. Giacomo's win is the only victory from No. 10 since Lil E. Tee won from No. 10 in 1992.

The tapering off for the 10th post is not that surprising given that the success in gates No. 5-15 has shifted to the first half.

Only two winners have lined up in posts No. 11-15 since 1996.

Final Take

If you have strong faith in a horse, don't let his post position sway you. A horse prepared to run a dominant race can win from anywhere.

If you are wavering between a few choices, post position is a great way to tip the scales.

In my case, I'll be supremely interested where Samraat goes off. I love his consistency and his early odds.

He was undefeated before coming in second at the Wood Memorial to Wicked Strong his last time on the track. In that race, he struggled with traffic but made a strong charge to claim second. 

If he lands an outside spot and his odds stay in the 16-1 range Odds Shark lists pre-draw, then he is a strong bet to finish in the money.  


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