Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby Post Position Trends

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Kentucky Derby Wagering Guide

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.

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:

The percentages in the table are skewed due to smaller fields in the past; 77 times, the race had 14 or fewer entries.

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.

Kentucky Derby Bonus: Access our Top 10 Kentucky Derby Wagering Mistakes for a step-by-step guide on how we’ve hit three straight Kentucky Derby winners.

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.



  1. james

    May 3, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Whats the deal ? Is it the auxiliary gate that makes the 1 ( and 2 ) position so bad? I looked at the past Oaks races back to 2000 and although there were a couple winners from the 1 those were smaller fields that didn’t need the extra gate…the Oaks seems to follow the same trend when they used the auxiliary gate. Is it the extra gate or the chute or the position of it? Why don’t they leave the first couple of holes empty? The 1 horse is still the 1 horse but breaks from gate 3 creating some space between to the rail. Poor lookin at lee…same draw as his dad!

  2. Jared Welch

    May 5, 2017 at 9:51 am

    You would think that would make sense. The reason it’s so much worse in the Derby to draw the 1 hole vs other races is exactly what you said. With the addition of the other chute the 1 hole really has to veer in some to get around the curve of the track. Which means they have to run over another horse(s) to do so. Like you said, Lee’s dad drew the same and he was an awesome horse. He showed that in the next race.

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