Post positions for the 2023 Kentucky Derby were drawn on Monday afternoon, triggering the annual debate among bettors as to which horses drew well, which drew poorly, and which might enjoy ideal trips in the “Run for the Roses.”
Some assumptions will be anecdotal, based on gut feelings and the relative draws of key contenders. Other conclusions will be based on cold, hard data—specifically, the post position statistics meticulously compiled by Churchill Downs since the starting gate was first introduced for the 1930 Kentucky Derby.
How many winners have broken from post 1? What’s the win percentage of post 15? What percent of horses finish in the money (first, second, or third) when breaking from post 5? Who was the last horse to win from post 14? How about the last horse to finish in the money from post 17?
If you find yourself asking any of these questions, we’ve got you covered with a convenient chart analyzing all the Kentucky Derby post position data:
|Post||2023 Derby Starter||Record||Win %||ITM %||Last Winner||Last ITM|
|1||Hit Show||93-8-5-5||8.6%||19.4%||Ferdinand (1986)||Lookin At Lee (2nd, 2017)|
|2||Verifying||93-7-5-13||7.5%||26.9%||Affirmed (1978)||Revolutionary (3rd, 2013)|
|3||Two Phil's||93-5-6-8||5.4%||21.5%||Real Quiet (1998)||Epicenter (2nd, 2022)|
|4||Confidence Game||93-5-6-4||5.4%||16.1%||Super Saver (2010)||Danza (3rd, 2014)|
|5||Tapit Trice||93-10-8-4||10.8%||23.7%||Always Dreaming (2017)||Audible (3rd, 2018)|
|6||Kingsbarns||93-2-8-3||2.2%||14.0%||Sea Hero (1993)||Good Magic (2nd, 2018)|
|7||Reincarnate||92-8-6-6||8.7%||21.7%||Mandaloun (2021)||Mandaloun (1st, 2021)|
|8||Mage||92-8-5-5||8.7%||19.6%||Mine That Bird (2009)||Tacitus (3rd, 2019)|
|9||Skinner||89-4-6-8||4.5%||20.2%||Riva Ridge (1972)||Hot Rod Charlie (2nd, 2021)|
|10||Practical Move||86-9-6-9||10.5%||29.1%||Giacomo (2005)||Zandon (3rd, 2022)|
|11||Disarm||82-2-6-4||2.4%||14.6%||Winning Colors (1988)||Code of Honor (2nd, 2019)|
|12||Jace's Road||78-3-3-3||3.8%||11.5%||Canonero II (1971)||Afleet Alex (3rd, 2005)|
|13||Sun Thunder||76-5-5-7||6.6%||22.4%||Nyquist (2016)||Nyquist (1st, 2016)|
|14||Angel of Empire||66-2-6-6||3.0%||21.2%||Carry Back (1961)||Essential Quality (3rd, 2021)|
|15||Forte||61-6-2-1||9.8%||14.8%||Authentic (2020)||Authentic (1st, 2020)|
|16||Raise Cain||50-4-3-3||8.0%||20.0%||Animal Kingdom (2011)||Commanding Curve (2nd, 2014)|
|17||Derma Sotogake||43-0-1-2||0.0%||7.0%||None||Forty Niner (2nd, 1988)|
|18||Rocket Can||35-2-4-0||5.7%||17.1%||Country House (2019)||Country House (1st, 2019)|
|19||Lord Miles||30-1-1-0||3.3%||6.7%||I'll Have Another (2012)||I'll Have Another (1st, 2012)|
|20||Continuar||18-1-0-1||11.1%||16.7%||Rich Strike (2022)||Rich Strike (1st, 2022)|
In addition, Cyclone Mischief (#21), Mandarin Hero, (#22), and King Russell (#23) are on the also-eligible list. In the event one or more horses scratch from the main body of the field, all horses drawn outside of the scratched horse(s) will move inward, and Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero, and/or King Russell will draw into the field and start from the outside post(s).
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• Post 1 is often dreaded since it’s difficult for horses to secure racing room while breaking from the inside of a large field. But while post 1 hasn’t produced a Derby winner since Ferdinand in 1986, post 2, post 9, post 12, post 14, and post 17 have endured even worse luck. Post 14 hasn’t produced a Derby winner since Carry Back in 1961, and horses breaking from post 17 have gone 0-for-43.
• Not every Kentucky Derby features a full field, so inside posts are more likely to compile high win percentages than outside posts. In a 10-horse field, each post has a 10% chance at producing the winner. In a 20-horse field, each post has a 5% chance.
• Keeping the above in mind, it’s noteworthy how many Kentucky Derby winners have broken from outside posts in recent years. Eight of the last 12 winners (67%) started from post 13 or wider, suggesting unencumbered trips are more important than saving ground in the Kentucky Derby.
• But based on a strict reading of the statistics, post 5 ranks among the best positions a horse can hope to draw. Not only has post 5 produced the most winners (10), the most runners-up (eight, tied with post 6), and the second-highest win percentage (10.8%), it also produced a top-five finisher in every Kentucky Derby from 2012 through 2019. This impressive streak included the victorious duo of California Chrome (2014) and Always Dreaming (2017).
• Post 15 has been particularly advantageous in the last decade, producing Kentucky Derby winners Orb (2013), American Pharoah (2015), and Authentic (2020). Post 7 has also fared well, churning out Justify (2018) and Mandaloun (2021).
Will Derma Sotogake become the first Kentucky Derby winner to break from post 17? Will Tapit Trice add to the decorated resume of post 5?
Will Hit Show overcome the rail draw? Will Verifying, Skinner, Jace's Road, or Angel of Empire reverse the long losing streaks for their respective post positions?
We’ll find out on the first Saturday in May.