A Closer Look at the Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw

Gunnevera drew the No. 10 position for the Kentucky Derby.

By Vance Hanson, Twinspires.com

Halfway through Wednesday morning’s post position draw for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1), the connections of 10 three-year-olds were surely nervous as the dreaded post 1 remained vacant on the board. Their chances of drawing it had been 5 percent at the start of the process, but now had drifted up to 10 percent. The chances continued to increase as other posts were filled.

Thankfully for most everyone involved, confirmed closer Lookin at Lee will break from the rail. Post 1 is still not overly ideal as jockey Corey Lanerie will surely have to take back perhaps more than intended soon after the start, but the 19 other Derby participants should be more or less satisfied with where they’re breaking from in the 1 1/4-mile classic.

The likely speed was favorably drawn. Fast and Accurate (3) and Always Dreaming (5) are expected to show early foot, with the classier Always Dreaming possibly having chance to outrun the former and secure the inside. State of Honor (6) and Blue Grass (G2) winner Irap (9) don’t figure to be far behind.

Morning line favorite Classic Empire (14) and Wood Memorial (G2) winner Irish War Cry (17), both of whom figure to employ stalking tactics, couldn’t have asked for better, though there is that historical curiosity that no horse has won the Derby from post 17…yet. There will be a gap between Classic Empire and co-second choice McCraken (15), who starts from the first stall in the auxiliary gate. The connections of the latter, a three-time winner over the Churchill surface, will have no complaints.

Perhaps drawing a little wide for comfort were Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Gormley (18) and multiple Grade 1 winner Practical Joke (19), and much has been made already of Patch drawing post 20. A colt who lost his left eye before he even ran, his only view at the start will not be that of any of his rivals to his inside, but to the massive and loud throng along Churchill’s lengthy stands. That could make for an interesting break.

We never lost confidence in her.  We worked with her and got her to run a good race today–thank God. Mike (Smith) and I both thought she went too fast early last time (when well beaten as favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 4), and she didn’t finish. Today, he let her lay a little off the pace and kept her wide and she finished well.  I have confidence in Unique Bella.  She gets into it and I thought she’d beat her (Paradise Woods), and down the lane, she did it.

Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer of Unique Bella, who won the G1 La Brea at Santa Anita on Dec. 26

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