Wednesday’s Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw featured late drama involving the dreaded rail, with champion 2-year-old Hansen narrowly avoiding the worst starting position in the 20-horse field.
Post No. 1 was still available after the first 18 slots were taken in the blind draw, and Hansen and Irish invader Daddy Long Legs were the only two horses left. Hansen received the perfect spot, in post 14 with all the speed to his inside, and it probably will be turn out to be a wasted overseas trip for Daddy Long Legs given his draw.
Trainer Bob Baffert made it clear he wanted Bodemeister to be outside of Hansen and Trinniberg in the starting gate. The quick colt was beaten in the Grade 2 San Felipe two starts back when drawing post 2, with another speed horse to his outside, but Bodemeister received a dream trip on the front end when able to start from post 11 in the Arkansas Derby, dominating by a 9 1/2-length margin in the end.
Post 6 probably will force jockey Mike Smith to send Bodemeister from the start, leading to the possibility of a wicked pace up front that hurts all the speed horses. But even when there is a cavalry charge during the early stages, there usually is one speed horse standing at the end in the top three. And that might be Hansen this year.
Hansen had to go when breaking from post 4 in the Blue Grass Stakes last out — there was plenty to speed to his outside that afternoon — and finished second, but look for him to revert to rating tactics from post 14. That strategy worked perfectly in the Gotham Stakes two starts back, when Hansen drew the far outside post and sat just off the pacesetter in third during the early stages. He made his move on the far turn and scored by three convincing lengths, and his connections will be looking for the same trip Saturday.
Union Rags was stuck down on the inside and didn’t look comfortable in the Florida Derby, eventually finishing third as the overwhelming favorite, and his supporters were hoping for an outside draw in the Kentucky Derby. That didn’t happen, as the well-regarded colt received post 4.
Gemologist drew nicely in post 15 — the unbeaten colt will sitting just behind Hansen and loves the Churchill Downs track with two local victories — and I’ll Have Another should be able to establish good positioning from post 19 with the long run to the first turn. Both colts are reportedly doing well in their morning preparations and needed some luck at the post draw. They got it and each colt should be able to deliver his best.
Take Charge Indy, the wire-to-wire Florida Derby winner, is at the opposite end of the spectrum in post 3. Jockey Calvin Borel is aggressive and might be able to establish decent positioning in behind the other speed to his outside, but his mount is still a front-runner and there’s a chance Take Charge Indy will get softened up on a hot pace.
Dullahan (post 5) and Daddy Nose Best (post 10) both received a perfect draw for their closing style.
Watch Live: The second leg of the Triple Crown is set, and Orb is the even-money favorite at the Preakness Stakes. There's a growing feeling that this three-year-old bay colt may be special enough to start a historic run.
Orb is the even-money favorite at Saturday's Preakness, and there's a growing feeling that this 3-year-old bay colt may be special enough to give thoroughbred racing its first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.