Kentucky Derby draw set; favorites get good gate positions

The Turnstile

The draw for the 143rd Kentucky Derby is set. Here’s where the horses will start on Saturday at Churchill Downs:

2017 Kentucky Derby Draw (Yahoo Sports)
2017 Kentucky Derby Draw (Yahoo Sports)
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Royal Moe and Master Plan are also eligible to race if one of the horses above is unable to compete.

This year’s Derby field is wide open, in part because four-time Derby winner Bob Baffert has not entered a horse in this year’s race. Classic Empire leads betting odds at 4-1, with McCraken at 5-1 and Irish War Cry following at 6-1. No other horses have better than 10-1 odds.

The assumption that the inside stall is the best position, given that it’s the shortest distance around the track, isn’t actually the case. With 20 horses in the field, the inside horses are liable to get bounced and edged out as the pack jockeys for position heading into the first turn. Too far outside, and the horse has to cover too much ground in the first two turns to get on the inside track.

Some trainers prefer gate 14 (the final stall on the main gate) or 15 (the first stall on the auxiliary gate) because those two give a bit of extra room at the start. Last year’s winner Nyquist came from gate 13, while Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh began from gate 15.

Some other positioning-by-the-numbers tidbits, courtesy of America’s Best Racing:

• No horse has ever won from gate 17. Ever.

• No horse starting from gate 1 has even placed in the top three since 1988.

• The average size of the field since 2000 is 18.9 horses, with no race having fewer than 16 horses.

• The gates with the most victories all time are gates 5 and 10, with nine Derby wins apiece.

Place your bets accordingly.

The Kentucky Derby, a 1 1/4-mile race for three-year-old horses, takes place this Saturday, May 6. Post time is at 6:34 p.m. ET, and NBC Sports’ coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET.
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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