Kentucky Derby Draw: Favorites Draw Three Outside Posts

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Churchill Downs tested the track’s new starting gate, which can hold up to 20 horses and was created specifically to accommodate the big field for Kentucky Derby. (Coady Photography)

Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law, with a classic win already under his belt and winner of the Aug. 8 Runhappy Travers Stakes, drew post-position 17 for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.

The Derby, delayed from May 2, saw 18 horses entered, but because of COVID-19 will be run without fans.

Tiz the Law was made the 3-5 morning-line favorite. The last time the early choice was slated at 3-5 was 1989 with the entry of Easy Goer and Awe Inspiring.

There was a bit of drama in the post-position selection as the favorite was the last name pulled by racing secretary Ben Huffman. The post-position draw was held in the Aristides Room at Churchill Downs. Other top contenders drew outside, including Authentic (8-1 morning line) in the outside slot. Honor A. P., winner of the June 6 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, will be asked to start from post 16 and was pegged as the 5-1 second choice.

Regardless of whether the run for the roses is in May or September, there’s often even more drama surrounding the draw and the run up to the race. Last year, it was favorite Omaha Beach  scratching from the Derby the day after the draw. This year’s buzz story is the scratch of Bruce Lunsford’s homebred Art Collector the morning of the post-position draw after the colt grabbed a quarter Aug. 31.

The exit of Art Collector from the field left 18 3-year-olds for the 1 1/4-mile race. Scratch time is 9 a.m. Sept. 4 and the race, worth $3 million, has a post time of 7:02 p.m. ET. NBC provides coverage from 2:30-7:30 p.m.

With a new 20-stall starting gate in place for this year’s Derby and only 18 starters, slots one and 20 will be empty.

In the previous 145 runnings of the Derby no winner has come from post 17. However, that might become a moot point considering the new gate.

“I kind of look at it as not 17 with the new starting gate,” said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable. “It’s probably more like 13, 14, 15 maybe. It’s a new world that we are in with the starting gate. Obviously, when you had that gap you were a lot further outside. We had horses win from [post] 20. I don’t think it matters much. I’m just a lot happier there than in the 1 or the 2.”

2020 Kentucky Derby post-position draw. (Coady Photography)

“I like it being on the outside,” Barclay Tagg, trainer of Tiz the Law, said of the position. “I didn’t particularly want to be out that far but we have. He seems to handle everything that gets thrown at him. It gives you a chance if you have any speed at all. It gives you a chance.”

As for post 17, Tagg said: “Things happen. There’s a lot of horses that didn’t win the Derby. Frankly, I’m not that worried about it.”

New York-bred Tiz the Law was a clear winner of the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets and earlier this year landed the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby. It’s the second run to the Derby for the Sackatoga team and Tagg, as they won the 2003 run for the roses and Preakness Stakes with New York-bred Funny Cide. Funny Cide broke from post-position 5 in his Derby.

The unlucky rail spot went to Arnaldo Monge’s and trainer Rey Hernandez’s Finnick the Fierce, a one-eyed son of Dialed In . Unplaced in the July 11 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, he hangs his credentials on a third-place finish behind Nadal and King Guillermo in the second division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby May 2.

“Looking back, the best races that he’s been running have been from the one position ... especially with him going a mile and a quarter and that he comes from off the pace,” Hernandez said. “I don’t think it’s any issue with the one.”

TVG.com Haskell Stakes winner Authentic will break from the far outside for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

“It’s pretty apparent the horse will go to the lead,” said Jack Wolf of Starlight Stables, co-owner of Authentic. “[Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] is suited to ride a horse like this. It appears that there is other speed in here, but hopefully he’s fast enough to hold his speed for 1 1/4 miles.”

Also drawing outside was John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing, and Paul Braverman’s Ny Traffic, a fellow New York-bred. The son of Cross Traffic was second in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes May 23 at Churchill and was second to Authentic by a nose in the Haskell.

“We didn’t want to get too far inside,” said trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. after landing post 15. “Chasing the speed would be a perfect scenario. It [the Haskell] was encouraging and since that race he’s been moving forwardly. So far, so good.”

A late entrant was South Bend, a son of Algorithms owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch, and Pantofel Stable. Fourth in the Travers and second in the June 27 Ohio Derby, South Bend is trained by Bill Mott, conditioner of last year’s winner, Country House. South Bend was sixth behind Silver Prospector and Tiz the Law in last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill.

Kentucky Derby Field

Post

 Horse

 Rider

 ML

1

 Finnick the Fierce

 Martin Garcia

 50-1

2

 Max Player

 Ricardo Santana Jr.

 30-1

3

 Enforceable

 Adam Beschizza

 30-1

4

 Storm the Court

 Julien Leparoux

 50-1

5

 Major Fed

 James Graham

 50-1

6

 King Guillermo

 Samy Camacho

 SCR

7

 Money Moves

 Javier Castellano

 30-1

8

 South Bend

 Tyler Gaffalione

 50-1

9

 Mr. Big News

 Gabriel Saez

 50-1

10

 Thousand Words

 Florent Geroux

 15-1

11

 Necker Island

 Miguel Mena

 50-1

12

 Sole Volante

 Luca Panini

 30-1

13

 Attachment Rate

 Joe Talamo

 50-1

14

 Winning Impression

 Joe Rocco Jr.

 15-1

15

 New York Traffic

 Paco Lopez

 20-1

16

 Honor A. P.

 Mike Smith

 5-1

17

 Tiz the Law

 Manny Franco

 3-5

18

 Authentic

 John Velazquez

 8-1

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