LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The traditional pill pull for Kentucky Derby 142 was held this evening in the Aristides Room at Churchill Downs determining the post positions for this year’s 20 starters for the Run for the Roses. The race will be televised nationally on NBC (Ch. 2) on Saturday afternoon during a three-hour telecast starting at 4 p.m. Post time for the Derby (Race 12) is 6:34 p.m. EDT. The Derby undercard will be televised on NBC Sports Network from Noon to 4 p.m.
- Morning line favorite Nyquist (3-1) drew the No. 13 position early in the draw, which appears to be a good spot for the undefeated son of Uncle Mo who will be looking for his eighth straight win in Saturday’s Derby. He won last October’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile from the same post. Trainer Doug O’Neill was pleased with the outcome. "Breaking from 13 is just fine," O'Neill said. "It didn't matter to us a ton but we're happy to be toward the outside."
- Trainer Bob Baffert, seeking his fifth Derby title, drew the No. 17 post for Mo Spirit (12-1). Gary Stevens, 53, will ride for Baffert and attempt to become the second-oldest jockey to wear the roses. That post has never produced a Derby champion. “It’s one of those things, we’re coming in here under the radar, it’s not a big factor,” said Baffert. “He’s going to like running from the outside, coming in from the clear.”
- Super-trainer Todd Pletcher's two horses drew as follows: Destin (No. 9) and Outwork (No. 15), much improved from the disastrous draw from last year’s Derby when Materiality and Carpe Diem were stuck inside and compromised early in the race. Outwork’s post is the first one in the outside auxiliary gate and typically a favorable gate as it will provide additional room at the start of the mad 20-horse dash to the first turn. Both Pletcher horses were assigned a 15-1 morning line.
- Similar to Pletcher’s duo, Steve Asmussen’s two horses, Creator (No.3) and Gun Runner (No. 5) both were listed at 15-1 on the morning line.
- Exaggerator drew the 11 hole for trainer Keith Desormeaux and was made the second choice on the morning line at 8-1. “I don’t think it’s an ideal post position, 10, or even 18 or 19 would have been ideal,” said jockey Kent Desormeaux who will likely take back and make a late run at the leaders. His brother Keith was less concerned about the post. “Kent seems a bit concerned because he’ll have to wait some after they load. But I don’t see a problem. The horse is as cool as a cucumber. It’ll be fine.”
- The post that has been in the money the most since 1930 is No. 10, which has hit the board 30.4 percent of the time. Whitmore drew post 10 this year for trainer Ron Moquett. “We're tickled with it,” said Moquett. “All we've been wanting is a good post and a good trip. Last year, we didn't get a good post (with Far Right) and I don't know if it would have changed anything, but this year we have a better post and a better horse."
- Trojan Nation, (50-1) is attempting to become the first maiden to win the Kentucky Derby since Brokers Tip in 1933. The son of Street Cry drew the dreaded rail post, but based on his closing style, it shouldn’t have a major impact on him.
- There were two also-eligible entries that will only draw into the race upon a scratch before 9 a.m. Friday morning, when live wagering for the Oaks-Derby double and advance Kentucky Derby wagering opens up. Both Laoban and Cherry Wine are on the outside looking in at this point.
- Barn 42 has housed the most Kentucky Derby winners (12) and houses three Derby horses this year: Shagaf and My Man Sam for trainer Chad Brown and Mohaymen for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Here's a look at the posts, morning line odds as set by Mike Battaglia for the field:
|6||My Man Sam||20-1||Brown||I Ortiz, Jr.|
|22||Cherry Wine (AE)||Romans||Albarado|
If you missed it last Friday, be sure to check out my Degrees of Separation blog. In addition, last Saturday’s long shots column can be found here and the annual Derby spreadsheet with facts, figures and the latest information has been updated through today's draw.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association and tweets @EquiSpace.