The field for the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby and Mike Battaglia’s morning line odds are listed in the chart below. I have a few quick thoughts below about how the draw worked out for some of the contenders here.
|4||Summer Is Tomorrow||30-1|
|9||Tiz The Bomb||30-1|
|11||Pioneer Of Medina||30-1|
|22||Rattle N Roll||30-1|
Since Churchill Downs got rid of the auxiliary gate in favor of the twenty stall gate two years ago, a true contender has not drawn the rail. That changed this year when the Wood Memorial winner, Mo Donegal, drew post 1. He’s more of a closer, so getting the rail post, while maybe not ideal, isn’t a disaster either. Epicenter drawing post three is interesting, because there’s a decent number of speed horses starting outside of him. I’d have to think that Steve Asmussen would love it if Joel Rosario could work out a trip similar to the one California Chrome got when breaking from post 5 in 2014. Messier getting post six should also work out favorably for him and John Velazquez. If some of the outside runners go hard, he could wind up having outside position on Epicenter, keeping him pinned in along the rail.
The morning line favorite is Zandon at 3-1, and post 10 should work just fine for him. I don’t see the post itself being the reason he does or doesn’t get the right trip. I was a little surprised with the gap between the 2nd and 3rd choice, with Epicenter being listed at 7-2 and Messier sitting at 8-1. Taiba at 12-1 feels like a number that will be decreasing, unless he’s sending off negative signals in the days leading up to the big race.
I don’t think there’s a clear cut winner or loser in the draw, however there were two horses that might be hindered by their post. Zozos ,drawing near the far outside, wants to be forward, but Classic Causeway re-emerging and drawing inside of him isn’t ideal. Epicenter, Summer Is Tomorrow, Messier, Taiba, Simplification, and maybe Charge It, are all contenders to be in the first or second flight. He’s going to really have to work hard to avoid going four wide, or risk being a lot farther off than pace than he’s used to.
Smile Happy was more forward from his wide draw in the Blue Grass, but he looked uncomfortable being bottled up along with rail in the Risen Star two starts ago. While it’s not a deal breaker for me, I still would have preferred a spot in the second half of the starting gate for him. That might have afforded him an easier opportunity to work out a mid pack trip, maybe in the two or three path.