Derby 147 : How the race might unfold out of the gate

Derby 147 : How the race might unfold out of the gate
The 147th Kentucky Derby will run at Churchill Downs on May 1. (Source: Churchill Downs)


With a 20-horse Derby field, the owners, trainers and jockeys are all hoping for a clean trip. That’s the plan, but as we know it doesn’t always work out that way in the Run for the Roses.

Let’s talk post positions and what type of trips you could possibly see come Saturday.

Trainer Todd Pletcher got the bookends in the Derby starting gate with Known Agenda getting the one post and Bourbonic getting the 20 post.  Jockey Irad Ortiz aboard Known Agenda needs to really get that clean break.  Even though the new Churchill starting gate should be kinder to the one hole, Known Agenda doesn’t want to get trapped down on the inside. His running style hints he does his best from a stalking or mid-pack setup.

Then from that far outside position, Bourbonic and rider Kendrick Carmouche will want to ease over toward the inside to try to save as much ground as possible.  Since Bourbonic’s running style is pretty much as a late runner, that 20 post might not be as huge a hurdle.

For me, I’ll be watching five key post positions when the gates swing open.  Posts 8, 9 and 10 along with 14 and 15.

Medina Spirit ( pp 8), Hot Rod Charlie ( pp 9) and Midnight Bourbon ( pp 10) all want to be on or near the lead. Any one of these three runners could have a say in dictating the pace.

But with their running styles, getting shuffled back under the wire the first time would  not bode well for them. Post 9 could really benefit  Hot Rod Charlie as he won’t have to wait in the gate very long at all.

As for posts 14 ( Essential Quality) and 15 ( Rock Your World) the top two favorites on the morning line are side-by-side.  Of this pair, a perfect  break is probably more important for Rock Your World, who wants to press the pace and force the issue early on. This is the way he captured the Santa Anita Derby.

Essential Quality has a more versatile-type style so as long as he doesn’t get squeezed back at the start,  he has enough speed and talent to make his way down the stretch to the first turn. This post position is decent for Essential Quality.

And regarding posts 14 and 15, it could really be interesting to see how these jockeys Luis Saez ( Essential Quality) and Joel Rosario ( Rock Your World) matchup and react when their gates spring.

Brad Cox, trainer of Essential Quality, also has Mandaloun in the field.  Mandaloun got a good draw with post seven and his rider, Florent Geroux, could find an easy path to the first turn.

Now if trainer Chad Brown had his druthers, he would have wanted his Highly Motivated no so far out.  They got the 17 post and this colt is more suited to be near the front end. Another words, his jock, Javier Castellano, will need to get busy out of the gate and try to navigate Highly Motivated over to the rail in order to save ground.

From post 19, Soup and Sandwich, also a frontrunner, will need to make a quick move out of the gate, too.  You’d have to expect his jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, to come charging wide in hopes of securing a spot near the lead.

As the pack hits the first turn, you could perhaps see Rock Your World, Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon and Mandaloun in the mix for the early lead. Maybe Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality  will be within striking distance of that group.

Course as we seen in the past, all these possible scenarios could  be out the window once that gate pops open at the head of the stretch.

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