We're a day away from the 2011 Kentucky Derby post position draw, and thus the first and likely only time most Americans will care about what position a horse starts a horse race in this year. But why does post position matter in the Kentucky Derby? Why should you care about the draw, which is Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern?
Turf 'n' Sport examined historical Kentucky Derby performance by post positions after Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby, becoming the first horse to win the Derby from the 20th position — the widest possible post position — since 1975. The position that produced the most winners in that period was 10th, but anywhere from fifth to 10th works: 16 of the 33 winners in that span came from those spots.
So, typically, starting in the middle is ideal. Why? Starting too wide can force a horse to fight through traffic to get to the rail, and/or run further to get to the front; starting too close to the rail — as 2010 Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky did last year — can shuffle a horse back or force it to break fast to get a clean start. The middle, than, is advantageous in large part because it doesn't come with disadvantages.
The Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 7, and Kentucky Derby post time is 6:24 p.m. Eastern, 3:24 p.m. Pacific. Check out SB Nation's horse racing blog, And Down The Stretch They Come, for all the Kentucky Derby previews, analysis, and news you need.