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Forte is 3-1 early favorite for Kentucky Derby after post position draw

Derby post position draw 2023 by Danielle Kaye
Danielle Kaye
Attendees mingle after the 2023 Kentucky Derby post position draw at Churchill Downs.

Forte is the 3-1 early favorite for the 149th Kentucky Derby, after drawing the No. 15 post position on Monday.

Tapit Trice, who drew the No. 5 post, is the 5-1 second-choice contender, according to predictions from Churchill Downs morning-line oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. Angel of Empire is the 8-1 third choice, in post No. 14.

The draw determined each horse’s starting gate assignment on the Churchill Downs track, solidifying the field of 20 horses competing in the 1¼-mile race. As a key indicator in the lead-up to the first leg of the Triple Crown, the draw will affect horses’ odds when betting opens on Thursday.

Mike Repole, Forte’s co-owner, said he doesn’t think No. 15 post – towards the outside of the track – will negatively affect his horse’s performance in the race. He said he was hoping for a post between 4 and 16.

“I’m actually happy. I would have taken maybe 12 or 11, but we’re fine there. We’re fine in 15,” Repole said. “If he doesn’t get stopped, he’s going to be in great shape.”

Forte, whose jockey is Irad Ortiz, was the first horse picked in Monday’s random draw.

The draw also included post assignments for contenders in Friday’s Longines Kentucky Oaks race. Wet Paint is the 5-2 Oaks favorite, in post position No. 7.

Morning-line odds, announced moments after the post position draw, are predictions of each horse’s chance of winning. Official odds will be available when betting opens on Thursday.

Since starting gates were first introduced in 1930, posts Nos. 5 and 10 have produced the most Derby winners. But last year's winner, Rich Strike, was assigned to the post No. 20, making him only the second Derby winner to run out of the starting gate from that spot.

Horses positioned towards the outside of the track are often subject to less bumping, but run the risk of racing too wide. About half of the past 23 Kentucky Derby winners have started the race from outside posts. Middle spots are still often considered to be the best draws.

The Kentucky Derby is the most popular betting race in the country. Last year, Derby bets totaled $179 million, meaning bettors competed for a share of about $143 million after the Churchill Downs track retained its 20% cut.

Battaglia has correctly predicted the Derby favorite 38 out of 49 times since 1974, when he became Churchill Downs' morning-line oddsmaker.

Derby post position lineup:

1 - Hit Show
2 - Verifying
3 - Two Phil’s
4 - Confidence Game
5 - Tapit Trice
6 - Kingsbarns
7 - Reincarnate
8 - Mage
9 - Skinner
10 - Practical Move
11 - Disarm
12 - Jace’s Road
13 - Sun Thunder
14 - Angel of Empire
15 - Forte
16 - Raise Cain
17 - Derma Sotogake
18 - Rocket Can
19 - Lord Miles
20 - Continuar

Oaks post position lineup:
1 - Mimi Kakushi
2 - The Alys Look
3 - Gambling Girl
4 - Southlawn
5 - Wonder Wheel
6 - Botanical
7 - Wet Paint
8 - Promiseher America
9 - And Tell Me Nolies
10 - Flying Connection
11 - Defining Purpose
12 - Dorth Vader
13 - Affirmative Lady
14 - Pretty Mischievous

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