Kentucky Derby Betting: 5 Worst Post Positions

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
kentucky derby posts

Betting on the Kentucky Derby is an American sports tradition, and horse racing betting fans are putting together their straight bets and exotics for the first Triple Crown event of the year. One aspect that could factor into a bettor’s choice is Kentucky Derby post positions. While horses have won from all but one post, some have been particularly difficult to overcome. We’ve pinpointed the top-five worst for win bets.

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Kentucky Derby Post Positions To Produce Fewest Winners

The four outside gates, No. 17 through 20, have seen the least amount of winners. Most agree one of two less-than-ideal situations happens:

  1. A far outside post may require the horse to use a lot of early speed to avoid a very wide trip, and he may not have a lot left for the stretch run in the longest race of his life.
  2. The jockey takes the horse to the back of the pack out of the gate and then must navigate a lot of traffic in the largest field in American thoroughbred horse racing, perhaps requiring a fast pace up front in order to catch them.

Get stuck out wide on the turn and it may be a death sentence for your Derby hopes. A horse six paths off the rail can run 150 feet farther than a horse on the rail on both turns.

Post Position 17 – Zero Wins

No. 17 has never seen a winning horse in 44 races, has only seen one horse finish second, and has only seen two horses claim third. It is the only position to have no winners at the Kentucky Derby.

Post Position 18 – Two Wins

Country Horse won out of No. 18 in 2019 but required the disqualification of Maximum Security. Authentic also won out of Gate 18 in 2020. Prior to these two, no horse had won out of Gate 18 since Gato Del Sol in 1982.

Post Position 19 – One Win

No. 19 saw its first and only winning horse in 2012 with I’ll Have Another.

Post Position 20 – Two Wins

Gate No. 20 did see a recent winner in Rich Strike in 2022, one of the biggest longshots ever at 80-1. Prior to this, Big Brown was the last horse to win out of the 20 spot in 2008.

What About The No. 1 Post AKA ‘The Rail’?

A similar disadvantage is also placed on horses running out of Kentucky Derby post position No. 1, being directly along the rail. There is less room for horses in this position to break free ahead of the first turn, with the rest of the field crashing down to avoid wide trips.

The last horse to win out of the first position was Ferdinand in 1986. Lookin at Lee placed second in 2017, but no horse has even managed to show since.

Looking at Derby history, No. 1 has also seen eight wins. However, these wins came pre-1986, with winners in fields smaller than today’s traditional group of 20.

Kentucky Derby Post Position Winning Percentage

Post PositionEntries-Win-Place-ShowWinning %Top 3 Finish %
194-8-5-58.5%19.1%
294-7-5-137.4%26.6%
394-5-6-45.3%22.3%
494-5-6-45.3%16%
594-10-8-410.6%23.4%
694-2-8-32.1%13.8%
793-8-6-68.6%21.5%
893-9-5-59.7%20.4%
990-4-6-84.4%20%
1087-9-6-1010.3%28.7%
1183-2-6-42.4%14.5%
1279-3-3-43.8%12.7%
1377-5-5-76.5%22.1%
1467-2-6-63%20.9%
1562-6-2-19.7%14.5%
1651-4-3-37.8%19.6%
1744-0-1-20.0%6.8%
1836-2-4-05.6%16.7%
1930-1-1-03.3%6.7%
2018-2-0-111.1%16.7%

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Should Bettors Ignore Horses In These Kentucky Derby Post Positions?

There is some merit in examining post position history when determining how to bet on Kentucky Derby odds. However, recent trends of winning horses have shown that even with the disadvantages, a horse can still win from the outer gates if it is a quality horse.

Since 2000, 12 of the 24 Kentucky Debry winners have come from Gates 13 or higher.

In fact, the recent winnings from posts 20 and 18 clearly show that a good enough horse can win from anywhere. Specifically, Authentic’s upset victory over Tiz The Law in 2020 is a prime example. Authentic was running out of a difficult gate in No. 18 and came into the race with 8-1 odds to win. Despite this, the thoroughbred managed to shock bettors and the horse racing world with a win over a less-than-even-money favorite.

So yes, bettors should know about the difficulty faced with the outer positions. But anything can happen in the Run for the Roses.

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