The final shift in odds for the 2015 Kentucky Derby took place on Wednesday. Draws for this year's 20-horse field came out, bringing optimism for those that got a good post and sadness for those in a bad post.
In a deep field, the slightest advantage can be the difference between having roses draped over a horse's back and going home seeking answers before the Preakness Stakes.
Things are finally coming into focus for this year's race at Churchill Downs. There are only three days remaining before all eyes turn to the start of the 2015 Triple Crown season, so let's look at how things broke from the post-position draw and updated odds.
|2015 Kentucky Derby Post Positions and Odds|
|1||Ocho Ocho Ocho||Elvis Trujillo||Jim Cassidy||50-1|
|2||Carpe Diem||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|3||Materiality||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|4||Tencendur||Manny Franco||George Weaver||30-1|
|5||Danzig Moon||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||30-1|
|6||Mubtaahij||Christophe Soumillion||Mike de Kock||20-1|
|7||El Kabeir||Calvin Borel||John Terranova II||30-1|
|8||Dortmund||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||3-1|
|9||Bolo||Rafael Bejarano||Carla Gaines||30-1|
|10||Firing Line||Gary Stevens||Simon Callaghan||12-1|
|11||Stanford||Florent Geroux||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|12||International Star||Miguel Mena||Mike Maker||20-1|
|13||Itsaknockout||Luis Saez||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|14||Keen Ice||Kent Desormeaux||Dale Romans||50-1|
|15||Frosted||Joel Rosario||Kiaran McLaughlin||15-1|
|16||War Story||Joe Talamo||Tom Amoss||50-1|
|17||Mr. Z||Ramon Vazquez||D. Wayne Lukas||50-1|
|18||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert||5-2|
|19||Upstart||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||15-1|
|20||Far Right||Mike Smith||Ron Moquett||30-1|
|Source: NBC Sports|
Morning-line favorite American Pharoah was not done any favors by getting the 18th post during the draw. Per Evan Hammonds of Blood-Horse, there's only been one Kentucky Derby winner from that spot since 1930 (Gato Del Sol, 1982).
There was better news for Dortmund, currently second on the morning-line odds at 3-1, who will start from the eighth gate. Per Thoroughbred Info, you don't have to go back far to find a winner from the eighth post:
Trainer Bob Baffert, who is working with American Pharoah and Dortmund, said in Hammonds' report that American Pharoah's draw isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"Outside doesn't really bother me," Baffert said. "As long as he breaks well, he'll be in a good spot."
That's going to put a lot of pressure on jockey Victor Espinoza, though his extensive resume shows he will be up to the task. He's been one win at Belmont short of completing a Triple Crown twice (2002: War Emblem; 2014: California Chrome) and has 3,211 career wins (h/t Equibase.com).
One horse not celebrating the draw is Carpe Diem. The Blue Grass Stakes winner is starting close to the rail out of Gate 2, which Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports simply said is "not good."
Being pushed inside and potentially blocked out does put Carpe Diem up against the wall (pun intended) in his quest to win the Kentucky Derby. Just as Baffert is rooting for a strong burst out of the gate for American Pharoah, Carpe Diem trainer Todd Pletcher will be looking for the same thing to avoid an early disaster.
Carpe Diem's unofficial Twitter account is taking the high road after Wednesday's draw, noting good things have come starting from the second gate at Churchill Downs:
It's a steep climb for Carpe Diem, and he's going to need help, but this horse has been getting better each time out, according to his jockey John Velazquez after the Blue Grass Stakes, via Jennie Rees of USA Today.
"Listen, he's doing everything right in every race," Velazquez said. "He's improving every race, so we hope he can do that in the Derby. All the things he's done so far, you've got to be excited going to the Derby. [But] the Derby is the Derby. You could have the best horse and not win it."
The draw did exactly what fans of horse racing could ask: It added drama and intrigue to a race that was already shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory.
Two favorites got very different draws—one favorable (Dortmund) and the other dicey but not devastating (American Pharoah). Saturday will show us if one of those two thoroughbreds can capitalize on the moment or if another will run into the history books.