Post Positions

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LUck has a lot to do with who wins the Kentucky Derby. The best horse does not always win, but sometimes the one with the best combination of luck and skill. Much of this needed luck falls with finding a good position. The post from which a colt starts can either force his hand, or give him a better shot of winning. Sometimes a horse is just so much better that it doesn’t matter, as Big Brown proved in 2008 when he won from post position 20. Big Brown and Clyde Van Doosen in 1929 are the only colts to have posted a win from that post.

Some claim that the 13 post is bad luck due to the nature of the number, but it is much better than racing from the 17 post. From 1900 to 2005, there have been 4 horses who have won the Kentucky Derby from unlucky number 13, but not a single horse has won from the 17 post. That also goes for the 19 post. You may be asking yourself why that is. Plain and simple, it’s just bad luck. It takes a superior horse to win from that far out, but I wouldn’t hesitate to bet a horse racing from either of those posts.

There aren’t too many times you will see 20 horses in a race. Due to the large amount of horses, two gates are required to load them up. The second gate is called the “auxiliary gate” and horses from posts 15-20 will break from that gate. It is a disadvantage in most cases, and only 9 horses have won from posts 15-20 since 1900. It is my opinion that it is more of a problem for horses who need to be on or near the front end early in the race. They have to cross the field very quickly, and must have a very fast turn of foot or they will not make it.




Traffic is a common issue in the Kentucky Derby. There is almost ALWAYS a cavalry charge to the first turn, as jockeys are trying to get the best position. If a jockey isn’t able to get position he will be forced to race very wide around the first turn, and not have enough stamina left at the end of the race when it counts the most.

Most trainers do not want the 1 post because if their colt doesn’t break good at the beginning of the race, he is basically eliminated due to the heavy amount of traffic. Ironically the 1 post, along with the 5 post has produced the most Kentucky Derby winners at 12. There is a simple explanation for this; the Kentucky Derby didn’t always have so many horses! This means that traffic wasn’t always a dire issue as it is today.

The consensus among handicappers is that the best post positions in the Kentucky Derby are anywhere from 6-10. They have produced a collective 37 Kentucky Derby winners. These posts are good because they minimize the chances of getting in trouble early on in the race. They are also good because there are no disadvantages when it comes to running style.

It is important to remember that great horses win the Kentucky Derby, and great horses will overcome trouble. This includes a bad post draw. If you like a horse who is on the fringe and you think he COULD win, and this horse gets a bad post, then you might want to go elsewhere. If you think your horse is the next Triple Crown winner, then post position should mean little for him.



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