Derby Tip: Post Position Matters
There are certain basic precepts to handicapping any thoroughbred horse race. Among the top ones are the class level the horses have been; the type of pace the horse usually runs and how it relates to the field; how the horse has performed in recent races; and the reputations and records of the connections, owner, trainer and jockey. All of these are important in the Kentucky Derby. But the Kentucky Derby is so different from other races in a few aspects, there are other factors that carry more weight than in a normal race.
One of those aspects is that the Derby is a crowded race. As many as 20 horses will line up for this one, and that's a big difference from the six-to-10 horse fields they are used to running in.
Gate Position and Pace
Gate position comes into play more in the Kentucky Derby than it normally would. Because the field is so crowded, a horse's gate position can determine the type of race he will have to run. In fact, it may take some of the horses completely out of their running style.
For instance, an outside post - from 10 to 20 - is detrimental to a speed horse because he has a lot of ground to cover to get to the lead in the first turn.
A speed horse works better from gates 4 to 8 where he can dash to the front ahead of horses on either side. With an inside post, unless the speed horse gets a terrific jump, he stands a chance of getting crowded to the inside and forced to stalk or work through traffic and try to close.
Closers, Stalkers Bide Their Time
A closer can work from almost anywhere, as long as he can negotiate the traffic. He can drop back, find a comfortable spot to run his slower pace, and then look for space in the last turn to make a big move in the stretch.
A stalker needs a post from 1 to 10, so that he can find a nice inside area to run with the second group of horses, then make his move.
So it is good to know the style of race your Kentucky Derby horse likes, and pay attention to the post position he is assigned during race week. It will help you find a winner.
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