Wednesday's post-position draw won't seal the fate of any 2015 Kentucky Derby contender, but it will help dictate which horses will be favored and which will likely be avoided leading up to post time.
The draw is arguably the most dramatic event for Derby contenders' owners, jockeys and trainers before the race. Its outcome can help a favorite begin its quest for the coveted Triple Crown, or it could all but dash the hopes of donning the garland of roses for a top contender. It all comes down to which starting gate a horse draws.
Historically, the No. 1 gate has been favorable, producing eight winners; however, no horse has won from that position since Ferdinand in 1986, and getting pinned against the rail is a very real threat. Gates No. 5 and 10 have produced the most winners, with nine each, while the dreaded gate 17 is the only one to never feature a winner.
So, before the draw commences, and Vegas oddsmakers shake things up as a result, let's take a look at the latest Kentucky Derby betting lines and field favorites.
2015 Kentucky Derby Odds
|2015 Kentucky Derby Odds: Pre-Post Draw|
|Ocho Ocho Ocho||40-1|
Kentucky Derby odds provided by Odds Shark.
American Pharoah's odds may have shifted several times leading up to the post draw, but he continues to maintain his position as the race's odds-on favorite. He's been absolutely brilliant in his two three-year-old races this year, winning the Rebel Stakes by 6 ¼ lengths and the Arkansas Derby by eight lengths.
There's much to like about American Pharoah's running style, as his graceful gallop allows him to maintain his position near the front of the pack while conserving stamina to make a late push. His finishing speed is off the charts, and he's been torching the competition as a result. Take a look at his sparkling run in the Arkansas Derby:
Jockey Victor Espinoza will be navigating American Pharoah at Churchill Downs. Espinoza won the race last year atop California Chrome using much of the same strategy he's employed with American Pharoah of late. Unless the post draw goes very wrong, expect this colt to remain the favorite.
If there's any horse in this year's field capable of taking down American Pharoah, it's Dortmund. One of the larger contenders, Dortmund boasts a powerful gallop that he's able to sustain throughout the duration of a race. He's currently unbeaten after six career starts, most recently winning the Santa Anita Derby by 4 ¼ lengths.
Dortmund is a very strong closer and features plenty of stamina; however, during the final furlong of the Santa Anita Derby, he wasn't able to continue pulling away from the field. That may be a concern considering American Pharoah's great closing ability and the longer distance of the Derby. Take a look at his performance in Santa Anita in its entirety:
Like American Pharoah, Dortmund is a Bob Baffert-trained horse and is jockeyed by the experienced and successful Martin Garcia. The colt is certainly surrounded by a winning supporting cast, and his size is already creating plenty of buzz at Churchill Downs. If the post draw puts him in a favorable starting gate, bettors will likely flock to him.
Outside of the two big names, Carpe Diem is the horse to watch. His pedigree suggests he'll have the stamina to breeze through the longer Churchill Downs race and continue his 2015 winning streak. So far this year, he won the Tampa Bay Derby by five lengths and the Blue Grass Stakes by three lengths over Kentucky Derby contender Danzig Moon.
A great horse out of the gate, Carpe Diem has a nice burst and can put himself in great position early in a race. Due to his stellar stamina, he can maintain a blazing pace throughout, and when jockey John Velazquez asks him to run, he has the ability to kick into an even higher gear. Take a look at his performance in the Blue Grass Stakes:
Don't be shocked if Carpe Diem bursts out to the front of the pack in the Kentucky Derby, sets the pace and attempts to become a wire-to-wire winner. He has the tools to accomplish that feat, but the post draw will have to put him in a good enough position to do so.