The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Point Given will start from the outside post position as the 9-5 favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby. With no surprises, there were 17 horses entered for the season's first classic. This Derby will be the first since 1980 in which trainer D. Wayne Lukas has not had a starter in the race. Lukas had 21 horses nominated for the Visa Triple Crown series.
Under the post position draw system, connections of the horses entered in the race decide which post position they want, based on the number of posts left when they get to draw. A minor controversy ensued over the order in which the owners and trainers got to draw, with some observers concluding that a random system was not used.
Bernie Hettel, executive director of the state racing commission, said Churchill racing secretary Jerry Botts shuffled the papers containing the horses' names before he drew out the names.
Also, during the post draw press conference none of the trainers expressed concern over the system.
As a result of the post position draw, some horses that have shown the most speed in their previous races drew inside posts and come-from-behind horses drew to the outside.
Although some trainers were not totally satisfied with where their horses are located in the starting gate, most expressed a belief their horse's could make up for any unfavorable post.
"We wanted to be in the middle somewhere, but it really doesn't matter," said Point Given's trainer, Bob Baffert. "I would rather be in the 17 than the 1. Being on the inside you would have to gas him away from there. If I had drawn the 1, I would be throwing up right now."
Baffert, who has saddled the Derby winner twice, said the post position is not a major factor in winning the race. "It wasn't the post that won the race for them. They got the trip and they were really good horses. After the race you could use it as an excuse," Baffert said of the post position. "But really, they win the race because they have the heart and stamina and are good horses."
Noting that the three inside post positions were the only ones left when he got to draw for Balto Star, one of his two derby starters. Todd Pletcher said, "Considering what was left, that was all we could do. Three was the only choice there. We have two speed horses on the inside of us and two horses that don't show speed on the outside of us."
John Ward, who trains Monarchos, from the 16 post, said, "The 15 is probably what I wanted and if we get a scratch I do move to the 15. I feel very comfortable... it's great there. All the blazing speed is down inside and has to go (to the front early) and the horses that look like routers drew the outside, so it's going to be an interesting race."Chart of post positions with morning line odds, trainers and jockeysTrainers' reactions to post position draw