With nine days left until the May 6th running of the 143rd Kentucky Derby, the 20 likely starters, and their trainers and owners, are awaiting May 3’s assignment of post positions, and maybe just as importantly, up to date weather reports.
With the Derby now generally featuring 20 horses (before late scratches), one would think that those far out post positions mean trouble. Not as bad as number one, or even number two, being out there at 16, 17, 18. 19 or 20 could be problematic, especially for
frontrunners that want to get out of the gate and into the lead. But history, surprisingly, tells a different story. While before the 20 starter number became the standard, the Derby generally featured less entrants, and in the years since the 20 starter number was created, several races have still gone off with less. That said, only 15 races of 142 have gone off with 20 starters, and in those races horses racing from the number 20 post position have won the Derby three times, a remarkable 13.3% of the time.
Not only that, but the recent trend shows that horses in those far out gates do well. Of the last six Kentucky Derbys, five winners were in the numbers 13 through 19 post positions, including one at 19, one at 18, who was 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and two from gate 16.
Another interesting trend has been time of the race, and that trend has not been for the better. In 2001, Monarchos came remarkably close to Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby record of 1:59:40, running the 1-1/4 mile race in 1:59:97. Over the next 14 years, times have generally been pretty unimpressive, generally over 2:02 plus, In fact, in American Pharoah’s glory year, he ran the Derby in 2:03:02. Last year, however, Nyquist ran the fastest Derby time, 2:01:31, since Funny Cide’s 2:01:19 in 2003.
As to the weather on Derby day, predictions are for a storm to the northwest of Kentucky, with a possibility of it reaching central Kentucky and the Louisville area at the end of the
week. Forecasts are for possible showers on Friday the 5th and temperatures around 70. Temps should drop to the mid-60s on Derby day, with a slight chance of more light rain.
As to the horses themselves, no really outstanding one has emerged as a top contender, though a some contenders have some pretty good blood lines. Current co-favorite Classic Empire and American Pharoah were both sired by Pioneerof The Nile and Malibu Moon sired 2013 Derby winner Orb and current 16-1 shot Girvin.
Here are the Latest Kentucky Derby Odds:
Classic Empire 5/1
Always Dreaming 5/1
Irish War Cry 13/2
Practical Joke 14/1
Battalion Runner 16/1
Thunder Snow 16/1
Lookin At Lee 28/1
Battle of Midway 28/1
J Boys Echo 33/1
State Of Honor 40/1
Fast and Accurate 66/1