Kentucky Derby 2021 Post Positions: Updated Picks and Predictions After Draw

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2021

Kentucky Derby hopeful Highly Motivated works out at Churchill Downs Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The "most exciting two minutes in sports" is nearly upon us, and with Tuesday's post position draw, we have an even better idea of how the Kentucky Derby could shake out on Saturday. 

But that is, of course, half the fun of the Derby; we know which horses are the favorites, which run well on dirt, which jockeys are bound for the Hall of Fame. But come the running, we can always be surprised. 

Brad Cox-trained Essential Quality, who is the favorite in this year's field at 2-1 odds, drew the No. 14 post. The other horses rounding out the top three, Hot Rod Charlie (8-1) and Rock Your World (5-1), drew posts No. 9 and No. 15, respectively.  

The Run for the Roses is on Saturday, with a 6:57 p.m. ET post time. You can watch it live on NBC and stream it on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

Let's take a closer look at the odds for this year's field and what the post position draw may mean for its entrants. 

Kentucky Derby @KentuckyDerby

Post Positions for the 147th #KyDerby https://t.co/Qj3jv0KY6B


Kentucky Derby 2021 Post Positions and Odds

1. Known Agenda (ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., trained by Todd Pletcher), 6-1

2. Like the King (Drayden Van Dyke, Wesley Ward), 50-1

3. Brooklyn Strong (Umberto Rispoli, Daniel Velazquez), 50-1

4. Keepmeinmind (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro), 50-1

5. Sainthood (Corey Lanerie, Todd Pletcher), 50-1

6. O Besos (Marcelino Pedroza, Greg Foley), 20-1

7. Mandaloun (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox), 15-1

8. Medina Spirit (John Velazquez, Bob Baffert), 15-1

9. Hot Rod Charlie (Flavien Prat, Doug O'Neill), 8-1

10. Midnight Bourbon (Mike Smith, Steve Asmussen), 20-1

11. Dynamic One (Jose Ortiz, Todd Pletcher), 20-1

12. Helium (Julien Leparoux, Mark Casse), 50-1

13. Hidden Stash (Rafael Bejarano, Victoria Oliver), 50-1

14. Essential Quality (Luis Saez, Brad Cox), 2-1

15. Rock Your World (Joel Rosario, John Sadler), 5-1

16. King Fury (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek), 20-1

17. Highly Motivated (Javier Castellano, Chad Brown), 10-1

18. Super Stock (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen), 30-1

19. Soup and Sandwich (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse), 30-1

20. Bourbonic (Kendrick Carmouche, Todd Pletcher), 30-1

Odds via KentuckyDerby.com as of April 27.

How important is post position at the Kentucky Derby?

Well, it's important enough to affect betting odds and to shift lines. 

Though post position isn't everything, some posts have historically performed much better than others. Post No. 5 has produced the most winners by far, with 10 since the introduction of the starting gate in 1930, the most recent being Always Dreaming in 2017.

The next most successful post position is No. 10, with nine. Giacomo won from that spot in 2005. It's followed by Nos. 1 and 8, which have each produced eight winners, including Ferdinand (1986) and Mine that Bird (2009), respectively. 

The most recent Derby winner, Authentic, won from the No. 15 post in 2020. That post position has had six wins in 59 starts.

As mentioned previously, the favorite in this year's field, Essential Quality, drew post No. 14. Historically, only two horses have won from that post position, the last being Carry Back in 1961.

However, the trainers and jockeys have their own preferences for post positions. Even though post No. 1 has produced more winners by far than No. 14, for instance, Essential Quality's team was dreading No. 1 and was relieved to avoid it. 

"I'm not going to lie," Cox said, per Robert Kieckhefer of UPI Racing. "I've been good all week but, man, that was nerve-wracking, to say the least. ... Obviously, we didn't want to be in the No. 1 hole." 

Known Agenda's trainer, Todd Pletcher, made the most of his horse's post position draw, remarking that the far inside slot may not be as big a disadvantage as it once was. Pletcher pointed out Known Agenda was on the inside at the Florida Derby and won it. 

"No question, it's not the post we wanted," Pletcher said. "But I do think it's not the big disadvantage it used to be with the new starting gate."

Last year, Churchill Downs introduced a new, Australian-built 20-horse gate. The previous setup was a 16-horse gate with a four-horse auxiliary gate attached to it. In the new setup, being on the inside isn't as much of a concern. 

Still, there were plenty of memes about Known Agenda's draw. 

Barry SNIPER Spears @UrbnHandicapper

Me going to the window to bet Known Agenda despite drawing the #1 post 😩😢🏇🏿https://t.co/YKeh0qCr8j

We'll see on Saturday how much the new gate affects the horses near the rail.