Post position matters no matter the race, but in the Kentucky Derby, it’s magnified in a huge way. With 20 horses loaded into one 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.
— Saratoga Slim (@SaratogaSlim) May 3, 2017
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 1st place, 2nd place, & 3rd place finishes, win % from that post, and “In The Money” % (ITM) (1st, 2nd or 3rd) from that post:
Even though the #1 post shows a 9.2 win % historically, any horse that draws it nowadays is a complete toss-out. The rail is the worst place to be because the Churchill starting chute lines up directly with the rail once it connects to the main track. With 19 other horses all pushing down from the outside towards the rail, the horse in the #1 post is in danger of getting hit or pushed into the rail shortly after the start. No horse has won the Derby from the #1 post since Ferdinand in 1986. Additionally, a horse hasn’t won from the #2 post since Affirmed in 1978, nor from the #3 post since 1998 with Real Quiet. Starting on the inside? Not a great place to be.
For a more in-depth look at the race, including pace projections, check out the Kentucky Oaks/Derby Wagering Guide, put together by our very own Mike “Saratoga Slim” Spector. Follow him on Twitter @SaratogaSlim.