Kentucky Derby post positions may have bearing on winner

The post positions for the 20 horses in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday are out and it remains to be seen what kind of impact they will have on the outcome of the race.

The early odds have also been established and, as expected, the unbeaten Essential Quality and leader on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with 140 points is the horse to beat at 5/2.

Many horses and a new distance

The two aspects of the Kentucky Derby that the 20 three-year-olds will have to deal with for the first time are the number of horses in the field and the extra furlong in the mile-and-a-quarter distance that they have yet to navigate.

Starting outside of the 11th or 12th position is not something that most of the entrants will have faced in their brief racing careers.

The two early odds leaders, Essential Quality and Rock Your World (11/2), will start side by side toward the outside of the starting gate in spots 14 and 15, respectively. That's a long way from 10/1 joint-third favourite Known Agenda, who will be breaking from the inside rail post position and will most likely be able to set the early pace.

Another starter at 10/1 is Hot Rod Charlie, who will be breaking from position nine, ensuring that four of the top five in the odds will be separated from each other, at least for the first quarter of a mile or so. The most important segment of the race, with the exception of the stretch run, will be the break from the gate to get free of the traffic heading to the rail.

Upset winners abound

An interesting dynamic in this edition of the Kentucky Derby is how many horses won big prep races, some as huge longshots, including Bourbonic, who used a record slow pace to emerge from 72/1 odds to shock the racing world in the Wood Memorial. That was after Weyburn, on the same Aqueduct track, overcame 42/1 odds to win the Gotham Stakes.

Weyburn isn't in the Derby field, but Bourbonic starts at 25/1 from the far outside post position, with Arkansas Derby upset winner Super Stock a couple of spots to the inside, also at 25/1. The other winner of a 100-40-20-10 prep race in the field is Like the King, who grabbed a victory in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park and drew the very advantageous second post position that could make him a very dangerous longshot at 40/1.

The bottom line is that this could be a very competitive race, especially since all of the horses occupying starting positions two through five are at early odds of around 50/1. Meanwhile, horses like Midnight Bourbon at 25/1 and Medina Spirit at 16/1, who have demonstrated the ability to compete with all of the horses in the field, are stuck in the middle of the starting gate in positions 10 and 8, respectively.

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