If a member of one of the deepest fields in recent memory is to break free of the pack at the 2015 Kentucky Derby and begin a Triple Crown pursuit, it will need a generous offering from the post-position draw Wednesday.
A year removed from California Chrome's epic attempt at a Triple Crown, high-profile trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher trot noteworthy favorites to Wednesday's event in the hopes of a favorable result.
Like unpredictable weather, the post position proves a critical factor in any horse's success. The right draw equates to contending status; the wrong all but ruins everything.
Below, let's take a look at how to catch the post-position draw and preview the surrounding factors.
2015 Kentucky Derby Post-Draw Schedule
Date: Wednesday, April 29
Time (ET): 5:30-6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
2015 Kentucky Derby Lineup and Odds
|American Pharoah||9-4||Bob Baffert|
|Carpe Diem||7-1||Todd Pletcher|
|Mubtaahij||12-1||Mike de Kock|
|Firing Line||18-1||Simon Callaghan|
|Upstart||20-1||Rick Violette Jr.|
|International Star||20-1||Mike Maker|
|El Kabeir||33-1||John Terranova II|
|Far Right||33-1||Ron Moquett|
|Danzig Moon||40-1||Mark Casse|
|Keen Ice||50-1||Dale Romans|
|Mr. Z||40-1||D. Wayne Lukas|
|Ocho Ocho Ocho||40-1||Jim Cassidy|
|War Story||50-1||Tom Amoss|
|Bold Conquest||N/A||Steve Asmussen|
|Toasting Master||N/A||Dale Romans|
|Source: Odds Shark|
All Kentucky Derby odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
Draw Preview and Predictions
The post draw makes or breaks a lot, even for the best of horses.
This would explain why Baffert wishes a deep field would help alter the rules a tad to decrease the randomness of the event. The Courier-Journal's Jonathan Lintner captures his thoughts on the matter, via USA Today: "With 20 horses, I wish we just had it back to where you pick your own. The one hole, I don't even talk about it because you know how it can be. To me, I think the post is going to be very important—and the break."
Baffert has every right to feel dissatisfied with the situation. His two contenders, American Pharoah and Dortmund, are quick out of the gates and lean on the fast start to break away—a poor position in which they get swarmed in a pack puts a serious damper on their chances.
Not helping matters is the fact this year's race is as deep as it has been in years, a thought shared by trainer D. Wayne Lukas, per Kentucky Derby on Twitter:
Despite the depth, all involved want to avoid No. 1 for its obvious disadvantage, and it couldn't hurt to steer clear of No. 17, either, even though it might be fun to make history as the first to win from the post.
Richard Rosenblatt of The Associated Press offers the history surrounding the post:
This year, it might be best for the top horses in the field to land an outside post so they don't run the risk of getting pinned on the inside, eliminating the chance of a late push down the stretch.
Still, it's hard not to feel both of Baffert's horses will perform well no matter the post position. As Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde notes, the legendary trainer offers the best one-two punch of perhaps any since 1948:
Even in a career crammed with glory – three Kentucky Derby victories, five Preakness triumphs, one Belmont and 10 Breeders' Cup wins – the 62-year-old Californian has never brought a hand this powerful to Churchill Downs. It's debatable whether anyone has. Longtime Derby oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said the American Pharoah-Dortmund combo may be the best any trainer has had since Ben A. Jones had Citation and Coaltown run 1-2 here … in 1948.
It's a staggering thought but also one impossible to ignore.
Dortmund is a winner in six races, even overcoming early stumbles to outgun the competition. It helps that the three-year-old colt features a sire by the name of Big Brown. To cap it all off, in Dortmund's three wins this year, he ran from the first, third and fifth post positions, per KentuckyDerby.com.
Those who have seen American Pharoah understand the horse blows away the field no matter the post, weather, track condition or more.
Perhaps more interesting is the fate of Pletcher's Carpe Diem, a winner of two straight and jockeyed by John Velazquez, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
Despite past showings, this year's Kentucky Derby is bigger than most races this season, meaning the contenders will be in unfamiliar territory. Post position is quite the big deal and will change the outlook in a big way, but for now, the top three seem quite obvious.
Stats and information via KentuckyDerby.com unless otherwise specified.