The 2015 Kentucky Derby favorites have long been talked about, but those dark-horse contenders don't truly insert themselves into the hype until the post-positions reveal.
So with the posts for all 20 horses—plus two alternates—in the field being announced Wednesday, the wait is over. Horse racing aficionados can now begin to figure out which afterthoughts have the right post spot to make an unlikely run into the winner's circle.
The dominance of American Pharoah, Dortmund and Carpe Diem make it a loaded group of favorites at Churchill Downs, but there's still the possibility for a surprise run into the top three. Let's take a look at each horse's post position and odds, as well as a closer glance at three dark horses.
2015 Kentucky Derby Post Draw and Odds
|1||Ocho Ocho Ocho||Elvis Trujillo||Jim Cassidy||50-1|
|2||Carpe Diem||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||9-1|
|3||Materiality||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||14-1|
|4||Tencendur||Manny Franco||George Weaver||50-1|
|5||Danzig Moon||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||50-1|
|6||Mubtaahij||Christophe Soumillion||Mike de Kock||14-1|
|7||El Kabeir||Calvin Borel||John Terranova II||33-1|
|8||Dortmund||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||13-4|
|9||Bolo||Rafael Bejarano||Carla Gaines||33-1|
|10||Firing Line||Gary Stevens||Simon Callaghan||16-1|
|11||Stanford||Florent Geroux||Todd Pletcher||40-1|
|12||International Star||Miguel Mena||Mike Maker||20-1|
|13||Itsaknockout||Luis Saez||Todd Pletcher||33-1|
|14||Keen Ice||Kent Desormeaux||Dale Romans||50-1|
|15||Frosted||Joel Rosario||Kiaran McLaughlin||16-1|
|16||War Story||Joe Talamo||Tom Amoss||50-1|
|17||Mr. Z||Ramon Vazquez||D. Wayne Lukas||40-1|
|18||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert||11-4|
|19||Upstart||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||22-1|
|20||Far Right||Mike Smith||Ron Moquett||33-1|
|KentuckyDerby.com / OddsShark.com|
Odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
There aren't many mysteries in this Derby field with so many established contenders. But the aurora around Mubtaahij more than makes up for the lack of drama.
Mubtaahij has no history of races in the United States, and that's because he just arrived in America for the first time recently to begin preparations for the Kentucky Derby. In Dubai, though, Mubtaahij has been the gold standard with four wins in his last five races dating back to New Year's Eve.
He's been turning heads as he gears up for his first American race, as J.J. Hysell of InTheMoneyPost.com noted:
It's certainly a culture shock for most who follow the Kentucky Derby, which is dominated by Hall of Fame trainers who have inserted dozens of horses. With that said, international horses have entered the field in years past and fared well.
With a field this stacked, even finishing third would be a victory for Mubtaahij and land his bettors some winnings.
Firing Line: 16-1
While it obviously matters most what horse is behind the gate, post positions have played an integral role in Kentucky Derby success. Coming in at the 10th gate, Firing Line is in quite the spot.
The horse to start from the No. 10 gate has a higher percentage of victory than any other gate at 11.8 percent, according to KentuckyDerby.com. No other gate has a percentage in the double digits.
Firing Line has much more than that going for him, coming off a Grade 3 win at the Sunland Derby in March. Two of the three losses he's suffered in his career can't really be held against him when you consider they came against Dortmund, Larry Zap noted:
To help put it all together, jockey Gary Stevens—winner of three Kentucky Derby races—will be on the saddle and will look to lean on his experience from a Hall of Fame career.
In races like the Kentucky Derby, the opening few strides can be the most important. Firing Line just so happens to be in the position where a strong start could guarantee him a top-three finish.
It's not really fair to call Materiality a dark horse considering his recent results, but that's just how loaded this Kentucky Derby field is.
The Todd Pletcher-trained horse is outside the top three of the favorites among the odds, but that has more to do with the stacked field than anything else. To prove it, just take a look at Materiality's last few races.
Materiality is 3-for-3 in races in 2015, including a runaway victory at the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March. You won't find many more inexperienced horses in the field, but his perfect record indicates that shouldn't be much of a problem.
Most importantly, Materiality has the size to be able to carve out space in the interior. He starts from the No. 3 position but is much bigger than the other horses who could be on the rail with him.