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2020 Kentucky Derby Post Position Trends and Analysis
Enforceable training at Churchill Downs (Credit: Coady Photography)

2020 Kentucky Derby Post Position Trends and Analysis

Post position is important in every race, but in the Kentucky Derby (G1), it’s magnified. With 18 horses loading into the 2020 Kentucky Derby gate, post position analysis is an important part of handicapping the race and dramatically affects which horse(s) you play.

We’re here to help! Let’s start with the trends that you need to know.

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Below is a table showing performance from each post position (1-20) since the use of a starting gate in 1930, including total starts, total first, second, and third-place finishes, win %, and “In The Money” % (ITM) (first, second, or third) from each post:

ITM %19.418.319.418.328.019.621.721.718.025.914.811.721.117.614.819.66.827.810.010.5

Even though the 1 post position shows an 8.9% win rate, any horse that draws the 1 post in the modern age is usually a complete toss-out. The extended Churchill Downs chute basically lines up directly with the rail when it straightens out at the end of the far turn. No horse has won the Derby from the 1 slot since Ferdinand in 1986.

With the other 17 horses all pushing down from the outside, the horse breaking from post position 1 is in danger of getting hit into the rail at the start of the race, though with less than the full field of 20, Finnick the Fierce (50/1) will actually break from gate 2.

While that is better than the true rail draw, a horse hasn’t won from the 2 post since the 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Sorry, Max Player (30/1). The 3 post position hasn’t had a winner since Real Quiet in 1998, so sorry to you too, Enforceable (30/1).

Frankly, being anywhere near the inside is not a good place to be; the percentages in the above table are skewed due to much smaller fields in races long past.

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The most favorable post positions are generally believed to be in the middle chunk. Posts 13 through 16 have performed the best in recent years: Orb (post 15) won in 2013, American Pharoah (15) in 2015, and Nyquist (13) in 2016.

The 5 post wins at an 11.4% rate, including California Chrome in 2014 and Always Dreaming in 2017. The difference between them and Major Fed is that they were well-bet; Major Fed, maybe not so much (50/1).

Justify won from the 7 post in 2018, and though he was later disqualified, Maximum Security crossed the wire first in last year’s edition while also wearing the orange 7 saddlecloth. Money Moves (30/1) will try to uphold the tradition for a third straight year.

This year’s morning line favorite, Tiz the Law (3/5), drew post 17, which is the only post to never have a Kentucky Derby winner (0 for 41). Tiz the Law is already trying to be the first horse to ever win the Florida Derby (G1), the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont, and the Travers, so why not throw one more hurdle at him?

For a more in-depth look at the race, including pace projections, check out our Inside Track to the Kentucky Derby wagering guide! Award-winning writer Mike “Saratoga Slim” Spector provides his annual in-depth look into the 2020 Kentucky Derby pace and gives his expert picks, as do Mike “Somobomb” Somich, Curtis “Magic” Kalleward, Ricky “Rocket Man” Pasternak, and Real Dynasty Picks‘ Vinny Blond.

Get it HERE!

1Finnick the Fierce Martin GarciaRey Hernandez 50/17th, Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland
2Max Player Ricardo Santana, Jr.Steve Asmussen30/13rd, Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga
3Enforceable Adam BeschizzaMark Casse 30/14th, Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland
4Storm the CourtJulien LeparouxPeter Eurton 50/12nd, La Jolla Handicap (G3) at Del Mar
5Major FedJames GrahamGreg Foley50/12nd, Indiana Derby (G3)
6King GuillermoSamy CamachoJ. C. Avila 20/12nd, Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park
7Money MovesJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher30/12nd, Allowance at Saratoga
8South BendTyler GaffalioneBill Mott50/14th, Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga
9Mr. Big NewsGabriel SaezBret Calhoun50/16th, Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland
10Thousand WordsFlorent GerouxBob Baffert 15/11st, Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar
11Necker Island Miguel MenaChris Hartman 50/13rd, Ellis Park Derby at Ellis Park
12Sole Volante Luca PaniciPatrick Biancone 30/16th, Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park
13Attachment RateJoe TalamoDale Romans50/12nd, Ellis Park Derby at Ellis Park
14Winning ImpressionJoe Rocco, Jr.Dallas Stewart 50/17th, Ellis Park Derby at Ellis Park
15Ny Traffic Paco LopezSaffie Joseph, Jr.20/12nd, Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park
16Honor A. P.Mike SmithJohn Shirreffs 5/12nd, Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar
17Tiz the Law Manny FrancoBarclay Tagg3/51st, Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga
18Authentic John VelazquezBob Baffert 8/11st, Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park

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