Lucky No. 7? Derby Favorite Justify to Start in Good Spot

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 7:30 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 1, 2018 7:30 PM UTC

The draw for Saturday's Kentucky Derby worked out well for the favorites, who were spared the rail, the two outside spots and the dreaded No. 17 post position. 

Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Draws

Race favorite Justify (3/1) drew the No. 7 post position for Saturday's 144th Kentucky Derby, while Monomoy Girl (2/1) drew No. 14 for Friday's Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

For the Derby (6:50 p.m. ET; NBC), the first leg of the Triple Crown series (Will the Winner of the Kentucky Derby Win the Triple Crown? Yes +550, No -1,000, Bovada), all of the perceived contenders -- Justify, Mendelssohn, Audible, Magnum Moon, Good Magic, and Bolt d'Oro -- drew solid post positions in the middle of the pack for the sprint on the Kentucky dirt. Some of the more talented perceived longshots such as Vino Rosso (No. 18 post) ended up with less-than-desirable starting gate spots. The inside rail and No. 1 post was drawn by Firenze Fire, who was priced as high as 95/1 to win the Derby (Bovada) in the futures bet market last weekend but who is now a morning-line 50/1 longshot. Combatant — who replaced Quip, who plans to run in the Preakness Stakes on May 16 (Will the Winner of the Kentucky Derby Win the Preakness Stakes? Yes +150, No -200, Bovada) — drew the outside No. 20 post, from where only Big Brown has won.

Kentucky Derby Field

1. Firenze Fire (50/1) Paco Lopez
2. Free Drop Billy (30/1) Robby Albarado
3. Promises Fulfilled (30/1) Corey Lanerie
4. Flameaway (30/1) Jose Lezcano
5. Audible (8/1) Javier Castellano
6. Good Magic (12/1) José Ortiz
7. Justify (3/1) Mike Smith
8. Lone Sailor (50/1) James Graham
9. Hofburg (20/1) Irad Ortiz Jr.
10. My Boy Jack (30/1) Kent Desormeaux
11. Bolt d’Oro (8/1) Victor Espinoza
12. Enticed (30/1) Junior Alvarado
13. Bravazo (50/1) Luis Contreras
14. Mendelssohn (5/1) Ryan Moore
15. Instilled Regard (50/1) Drayden Van Dyke
16. Magnum Moon (6/1) Luis Saez
17. Solomini (30/1) Flavien Prat
18. Vino Rosso (12/1) John Velazquez
19. Noble Indy (50/) Florent Geroux
20. Combatant (50/1) Ricardo Santana Jr.
AE: Blended Citizen (50/1) Kyle Frey

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1 Firenze Fire
2 Free Drop Billy
3 Promises Fulfilled
4 Flameaway
5 Audible
6 Good Magic
7 Justify
8 Lone Sailor
9 Hofburg
10 My Boy Jack
11 Bolt d’Oro
12 Enticed
13 Bravazo
14 Mendelssohn
15 Instilled Regard
16 Magnum Moon
17 Solomini
18 Vino Rosso
19 Noble Indy
20 Combatant

— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 1, 2018

The No. 14 post for Monomoy Girl is the far outside spot in the Oaks (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN), but with Florent Geroux in the saddle and a smaller field than the Derby, Monomoy Girl (5-1-0 in 6 career starts) should be able to overcome any perceived problems with route, the pack, pace, etc., with the biggest decision Geroux probably has to make is whether or not to try to get the lead early and control the race’s pace. But with Midnight Bisou (3-2-0 in 5 career starts), My Miss Lilly (2-0-2 in 4 career starts) and other talented 3-year-old fillies in the field, it won’t come easy.

Kentucky Oaks Field

1. Sassy Sienna (15/1) Gary Stevens
2. Coach Rocks (12/1) Luis Saez
3. Classy Act (15/1) Brian Hernandez Jr.
4. Chocolate Martini (12/1) Javier Castellano
5. Wonder Gadot (20/1) John Velazquez
6. Kelly’s Humor (30/1) Irad Ortiz
7. Rayva (15/1) Drayden Van Dyke
8. Heavenhasmynikki (30/1) Calvin Borel
9. Take Charge Paula (15/1 Jose Ortiz
10. Midnight Bisou (5/2) Mike Smith
11. My Miss Lilly (10/1) Joe Bravo
12. Patrona Margarita (30/1 Ricardo Santana Jr.
13. Eskimo Kisses (15/1) Corey Lanerie
14. Monomoy Girl (2/1) Florent Geroux

It Pays to Take the Fifth

From a historical perspective, some trends might be better than others when pondering your Kentucky Derby picks.

Since the inception of the starting gate at Churchill Downs in 1930, the horse in the No. 5 post position has been the most successful in finding its way to the winner’s circle and that garland of roses, with 10 Kentucky Derby winners, including Always Dreaming last year. The No. 10 post has been the second-best gate, producing nine winners, while the Nos. 1 and 8 posts have each provided eight winners in The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.

The last 10 winning posts (in reverse chronological order) have been 5 (Always Dreaming), 13 (Nyquist), 18 (American Pharoah), 5 (California Chrome), 16 (Orb), 19 (I’ll Have Another), 16 (Animal Kingdom), 4 (Super Saver), 8 (Mine That Bird) and 20 (Big Brown). So, three post positions (18, 19 and 20) that seldom produce a Derby champion have done so three times in the past decade -- but only one other time before that. The race has a maximum field of 20 now, but all-time, spots 17 through 23 produced just four winners since the starting gates were introduced.

An odd-numbered horse has won six of the last 10 Derbies, including the last two. Horses in the 1-10 grouping have won four of the last 10, and horses in the 11-20 pack have won five of the last seven.

Here are how many Kentucky Derby winners each post position has provided, with the names of some of the more memorable winners:

Free Kentucky Oaks Trifecta Pick: 14-10-11 (Monomoy Girl-Midnight Bisou-My Miss Lilly).

Free Kentucky Derby Superfecta Pick: 14-16-7-5 (Mendelssohn-Magnum Moon-Justify-Audible).
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