We are nearing the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby and now legal betting online analysts have more to go on with the pole positions being formally announced. While some believe a horse’s starting pole position is more of a superstitious aspect of betting on the Derby, some analysts break it down to a statistical science. In terms of oddsmaking, the pole positions do have an effect when it comes to naming favorites.
Justify is a horse that has the eye of most bettors and analysts. He was an early favorite in the time leading up to the race, but his pole position has some people backing off. He’s still the clear favorite, but his position at 7 bleeds into the superstitious category of bettors. There is something known as the Apollo Curse in the Derby and it has to do with horses not racing at the age of 2. No horse has won without racing at 2 years of age since Apollo back in 1882. Justify, who didn’t race while 2, will try and break the 135-year-old drought. A total of 6 horses in history have won from the #7 post, the most recent of which coming in 2007.
Audible, a fan-favorite and another horse connected to trainer Todd Fletcher (who has 4 in this Derby), will take the 5th post. Historically speaking, the horse at #5 has done well. Audible’s position coupled with the trainer behind the horse puts him at good odds. In fact, post #5 is considered the magic number when it comes to Derby racing since 10 Derby champions have come out of that gate before Audible.
As far as losers go, that hat, unfortunately, falls to Solomini at position #17. No horse has ever won in the history of the entire Derby from that position. Posts 18-20 have only yielded one winner. Several horses have finished in the money positions out of these gates, but it is not statistically likely for any horse in these positions to make an impact.
The complete list of horses in order is as follows: Firenze Fire, Free Drop Billy, Promises Fulfilled, Flameaway, Audible, Good Magic, Justify, Lone Sailor, Hofburg, My Boy Jack, Bolt d’Oro, Enticed, Bravazo, Mendelssohn, Instilled Regard, Magnum Moon, Solomini, Vino Rosso, Noble Indy and Combatant. Betting odds fluctuate between the pole positions, but there are more favorites within the last 10 poles. Justify is the heavy favorite at 3-1 odds.
Whether you believe the pole positions make a difference is a matter of personal opinion. They may not certainly affect the entire race, but the tight start at the beginning is certainly packed. Where you emerge from that pack could impact your odds of winning. You can see a listing of the pole positions and odds on our Kentucky Derby page.