BOZICH | The Only Five Kentucky Derby Draw Takeaways That Matter
What's more important: Kentucky Derby post positions or the weather? Five takeaways from the draw for Kentucky Derby 143 Saturday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Post positions for Kentucky Derby 143 were settled late Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Nobody guaranteed a victory. Nobody withdrew from the 20-horse field. Nobody threw a fit. Nobody pounded his or her chest (except for some strangely boisterous fans of Tapwrit, who went on a screaming selfie binge).
What conclusions can be made from the draw?
You can connect any dots that you choose to connect. Here are Five Facts from the Derby Draw that matter:
1. Weather > Draw
John Shirreffs won the Kentucky Derby 11 years ago with a longshot named Giacomo. He's back to celebrate again with Gormley, winner of the Santa Anita Derby.
Giacomo drew post 10. Gormley drew No. 18. The last horse to win from 18 was Gato del Sol in 1982.
Was Shirreffs distressed by No. 18?
"I just got a text message from (his jockey) Victor Espinoza," Shirreffs said. "He told me 18 was perfect."
"It's his lucky number," he said.
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia put the morning line odds for Gormley at 15-to-1.
Shirreffs prefers to invest his time studying the weather forecast, which begins with a forecast of 100 percent chances of rain Thursday, 80 percent Friday and 60 percent Saturday.
Seconds after the draw, Shirreffs opened a weather app on his iPhone and studied the radar, flicking the screen to the West Coast and back several times.
"The rain shouldn't be a problem for our horse," he said. "He's run well on an off track at least twice."
2. Who Got Lucky 15 and 5?
Bart Starr wore Number 15 while quarterbacking the Green Bay Packers to NFL championships. Earl "The Pearl" Monroe did great things for the Knicks. Thurman Munson wore it in baseball.
Famous Fives: Joe DiMaggio works. So does Johnny Bench.
Only the last 21 Kentucky Derbies, 15 and 5 have been a magical numbers. Four horses have won the first leg of the Triple Crown from those two spots.
Here are the winners from 15:
Grindstone in 1996.
Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
Orb in 2013.
American Pharoah started his rush to the Triple Crown from 15 two years ago.
That's good news for McCraken, who drew post 15. Battaglia put 5-1 odds on McCraken. "Works for me," said Brian Hernandez, who'll ride the colt. "First thing I heard about 15 was that it had been lucky lately."
The list of winners from Post 5 was equally impressive: California Chrome (2014); Funny Cide (2003); War Emblem (2002) and Silver Charm (1997).
Always Dreaming, 5-to-1 in the morning line, will start in post 5. Todd Pletcher trains the colt, who won the Florida Derby.
"I was happy [with] the post," Pletcher said. "I suppose I would have liked to be a little farther out but any time you don't draw the one (on the rail) you have to be happy with it."
3. Unlucky 14?
Battaglia made Classic Empire, winner of the Arkansas Derby, the slight morning line favorite at 4-1.
The colt will start in post 14. No horse has won the Kentucky Derby from post 14 since Carry Back in 1961. Every position inside 14 has produced at least one Derby winner since 1968.
In fact, post 14 is 2 for 62 in the Derby. Even the Cleveland Browns are better than that.
4. Outside Over Inside?
Trainers used to grumble about the auxiliary starting gate. They don't grumble about it much any more.
Nor should they.
Four of the last six as well as five of the last nine Derby winners have started the race from posts 15-20. Let the inside horses jostle for position into the first turn. Wait from the cavalry to crackle to the front and tuck your horse closer to the rail.
Then make your move in the final half-mile.
5. The Patch Factor
Patch, one of the three colts trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle, is unlike the other 19 contenders because Patch lost his left eye.
Patch drew post 20, which means the entire field will start to his left, out of his field of vision. All the colt will see is the bustling Churchill Downs grandstand.
How will it affect the colt?
"He's always been able to sprint from the gate," Pletcher said. "It's better than number one."
Patch is 30-1.
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