The traditional pill pull for Kentucky Derby 145 was held in the Aristides Lounge on Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. The draw determined 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 four-and-a-half-hour telecast starting at 2:30 p.m. Post time for the Derby (Race 12) is 6:46 p.m. EDT. The Derby undercard will be televised on NBC Sports Network from noon to 2:30 p.m.
Morning line favorite Omaha Beach (4-1) drew the No. 12 post for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. The post time favorite has won the Kentucky Derby for six consecutive years. I’ll Have Another was the last nonfavorite to wear the roses.
Super trainer and five-time winner Bob Baffert’s three horses drew as follows: Improbable (No. 5), Game Winner (No. 16) and Roadster (No. 17).
Game Winner (5-1) was listed as the second choice on the morning line.
Post No. 5 has the most winners since 1930 at an 11.2 percent clip, and where Improbable landed with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons. Always Dreaming won the 2017 Derby from that post.
The No. 10 post that has been in the money the most since 1930 at 29.2 percent. Cutting Humor drew post 10 this year for trainer Todd Pletcher. The Sunland Derby winner will have Corey Lanerie in the irons.
The post position with the most futility since 1930 is No. 17. It has never produced a winner and the last ITM (in-the-money) horse was in 1988 when Forty Niner finished second. The last top five finisher was Don’t Get Mad in 2005, with a fourth-place finish. Roadster drew the ominous No. 17 post for this year’s Derby.
There was one also-eligible entry 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. Bodexpress is on the outside looking in at this point.
War of Will drew the dreaded rail post, which typically traffic issues can impair the horse’s trip. He has showed speed in the mornings here at Churchill Downs and will likely go straight to the lead to attempt to avoid early contact with the inside horses.
Here's a look at the posts and morning line odds for the field:
|Post Position||Horse||Morning Line||Trainer||Jockey|
|1||War of Will||20-1||Casse||Gaffalione|
|3||By My Standards||20-1||Calhoun||G Saez|
|4||Gray Magician||50-1||Miller||Van Dyke|
|5||Improbable||6-1||Baffert||I Ortiz Jr|
|7||Maximum Security||10-1||Servis||L Saez|
|9||Plus Que Parfait||30-1||Walsh||Santana Jr|
|12||Omaha Beach||4-1||Mandella||ME Smith|
|13||Code of Honor||15-1||McGaughey||JR Velazquez|
|14||Win Win Win||15-1||Trombetta||Pimental|
|15||Master Fencer (JPN)||50-1||Tsunoda||Leparoux|
|18||Long Range Toddy||30-1||Asmussen||Court|
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.