A Closer Look at the Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw

Gunnevera
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.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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