Now that we know where the horses will start in this year’s Kentucky Derby after Tuesday’s draw, it’s time to take a look at which post positions have produced the most success over the Run for the Roses’ long history. And as you can see, it’s better to start away from the rail but not too far away from it, as the horses that break from the tail end of the six-stall auxiliary gate (post positions 15-20) also have struggled a bit to keep up.
Looking for a winner? Think post positions 5-16.
1. War of Will (20-1)
Winners from No. 1: 8 (last was Ferdinand in 1986).
Of note: Positions 1-3 simply do not produce Derby winners any more. “The rail is the worst place to start because the Churchill chute basically lines up directly with the horse running into the rail,” writes Jared Welch of Racing Dudes. “With 19 horses all pushing from the outside in, the horse in the 1 position is in danger of getting hit into the rail to start the race.”
2. Tax (20-1)
Winners from No. 2: 7 (last was Affirmed in 1978).
Of note: The No. 2 post position may not produce many winners, but 28.1 percent of the 89 horses to start here have finished in the money, the second-highest percentage among post positions with at least 80 starts (No. 10 is the only one that’s better, at 29.3 percent).
3. By My Standards (20-1)
Winners from No. 3: 5 (last was Real Quiet in 1998).
Of note: The No. 3 post position produced three winners from 1975 to 1987, but only two others over the long history of the race.
4. Gray Magician (50-1)
Winners from No. 4: 5 (last was Super Saver in 2010).
Of note: Danza was the last horse from the No. 4 post position to finish in the money, taking third in 2014.
5. Improbable (6-1)
Winners from No. 5: 10 (last was Always Dreaming in 2017).
Of note: Of the record 10 Derby champions from this spot, five have happened since 1997. Plus, a No. 5 horse has finished in the money in the last three Runs for the Roses and in four of the last five.
6. Vekoma (20-1)
Winners from No. 6: 2 (last was Sea Hero in 1993).
Of note: Of the 89 horses to start from the No. 6 position, just 2.2 percent have won, the lowest percentage of any Derby post position with at least 80 starts (the size of the Derby field has varied throughout the years). The No. 6 has seen only two horses in the money this century, too, though one of them was second-place Good Magic last year.
7. Maximum Security (10-1)
Winners from No. 7: 7 (last was Justify in 2018).
Of note: Only Justify and Street Sense (2007) have won from the No. 7 post position over the past 38 years. They’re also the only two horses from the No. 7 post position to finish in the money this century.
8. Tacitus (10-1)
Winners from No. 8: 8 (last was Mine That Bird in 2009).
Of note: Mine That Bird also was the last horse from the No. 8 post position to finish in the money.
9. Plus Que Parfait (30-1)
Winners from No. 9: 4 (last was Riva Ridge in 1972).
Of note: The No. 9 post position has the longest drought among the first 10 starting gates.
10. Cutting Humor (30-1)
Winners from No. 10: 9 (last was Giacomo in 2005).
Of note: As mentioned above, a Derby-high 29.3 percent of the 82 horses to start from No. 10 have finished in the money, but none has since third-place Paddy O’Prado in 2010.
11. Haikal (30-1)
Winners from No. 11: 2 (last was Winning Colors in 1988).
Of note: Apart from Winning Colors, Brokers Tip is the only horse to win from the No. 11 post position, and that was in 1933.
12. Omaha Beach (4-1)
Winners from No. 12: 3 (last was Canonero II in 1971).
Of note: Per ESPN’s Chris Fallica, the last favorite to break from No. 12 was 1989′s Awe Inspiring, who finished third. Kauai King (1966) is the only one of five Kentucky Derby favorites to win from No. 12.
13. Code of Honor (15-1)
Winners from No. 13: 5 (last was Nyquist in 2016).
Of note: Of the 72 horses to start from the No. 13 post position, 23.6 percent here have finished in the money, tops among gates 11-20. Also tops among that group is the No. 13 horse’s average finish: 8.32.
14. Win Win Win (15-1)
Winners from No. 14: 2 (last was Carry Back in 1961).
Of note: Of the post positions that have produced a Kentucky Derby winner, the No. 14 has the longest drought at 58 years. Plus, a No. 14 horse hasn’t hit the board since third-place Impeachment in 2000.
15. Master Fencer (50-1)
Winners from No. 15: 5 (last was American Pharoah in 2015).
Of note: Four of the five winners from the No. 15 post position have happened in the last 23 years, including two of the last six Kentucky Derby champions.
16. Game Winner (5-1)
Winners from No. 16: 4 (last was Animal Kingdom in 2011).
Of note: Before Thunder Gulch in 1995, no Derby winner had ever emerged from the No. 16 post position.
17. Roadster (6-1)
Winners from No. 17: 0.
Of note: No horse from the No. 17 post position has even hit the board since second-place Forty Niner in 1988 (Fallica).
18. Long Range Toddy (30-1)
Winners from No. 18: 1 (Gato Del Sol in 1982).
Of note: Gato Del Sol, a 21-1 long shot, is the only real success story from the No. 18 post position, which hasn’t seen a horse finish in the money since second-place Nehro in 2011.
19. Spinoff (30-1)
Winners from No. 19: 1 (I’ll Have Another in 2012).
Of note: I’ll Have Another is the only horse from the No. 19 post position to hit the board this century. The 27 horses that have started from the No. 19 post position have seen an average finish of 12.26, the worst such mark among post positions 1-20.
20. Country House (30-1)
Winners from No. 20: 1 (Big Brown in 2008).
Of Note: Big Brown is the only No. 20 horse to hit the board this century. The 17 horses to start from the No. 20 post position have seen an average finish of 11.47, second worst behind No. 19.