LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby post-position draw has become like waiting to console the victim of an accident that everybody knows is sure to come. You don't want the No. 1 post because that horse has to take a slight right turn just to get on the course and then has every chance of getting squeezed by the chain reaction that can be caused by 19 other horses fighting for position in the first 500 yards.
The 1 post was still unclaimed when Union Rags got No. 4 Wednesday afternoon at Churchill Downs. In a perfect world, trainer Michael Matz said he would have preferred something higher than 5. After initially being a bit discouraged, Matz took a longer look at the horses that will be around Union Rags in the starting gate and decided that horses near him "don't have much speed so I don't see why he can't go right behind Bodemeister or be right with him. [Jockey] Julien [Leparoux] is going to have to come and let him run a little bit, but I don't think that's the worst thing in the world. My original thought, I wasn't crazy about it, but the way everybody is, I don't think it is so bad.''
Bodemeister will start from post 6. Trinniberg, the almost certain pace-setter, starts from post 9. The fast Hansen starts from 14. So, if those three go and Union Rags finds a pocket several lengths behind them as the field heads into the first turn, he could come out of the turn with solid position.
But nobody knows. Post positions are something to consider, but the reality is that chaos often ensues early in the Derby. You need to be lucky or, perhaps more importantly, not unlucky.
In the nearly two decades of the 20-horse fields, high numbers have been good. The race has been won by a horse from post 16 four times, post 15 twice, post 13 and 20 once each. The 13 and 20 were Smarty Jones and Big Brown, the best horses whose posts were almost incidental.
Twenty-one horses were actually entered for the race. My Adonis is on the also-eligible list. If a horse scratches before 9 a.m. Friday, My Adonis would get into the field and draw post 20. The others would all move in one spot.
Creative Cause has had some foot issues and did not go to the track Tuesday or Wednesday. At the moment, he is running.
By the way, Irish-trained horse Daddy Long Legs drew the 1 post. He was here last year for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and beat one horse. That wasn't good. Neither was this. n