Derby Post Positions

Easily entertained, I gave up 20 minutes that I may or may not have left in my lifetime to watch the selection of post positions for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Guess what? I enjoyed it so much that I am passing it along for you to check out too if you have the 20 minutes or so to spare.

Couple observations about the process. Given that we now operate in a time of sophisticated digital doings and computer-generated solutions to most things, it was fun to see that the post position selection process for the world’s most famous and important race is still done very old school manually. As the presentations’ MC explains it (00:20 mark) “the same process applies: Ben with a card and Dan with a pill.”

That translates into Dan shaking out a number that deems the horse’s post position while Ben pulls a sheet of paper naming the horse that receives that position. To top if off, some tiara-wearing babe who, very sexist-wise is not introduced, does the Vanna thing by sashaying down the runway to place the horse’s name under the selected position. Very old fashioned but it is kinda cool in a clunky kinda way and it works!

What I also enjoyed in the video was hearing the MC tell us a little something about each entry. For example, check out the MC at the 11:30 mark in the video where he tells how the owner of Skinner named him after an 86 year employee who was his best salesman. That employee Don Skinner will be at the Derby this Saturday with the horse’s owners. (Wonder if ole Don gets a cut should Skinner finish in the money.)

I also liked it at the 12:00 mark where the MC notes that the jockey riding Two Phils said “he was 90% excited, 7% let’s get it over with, 2% nervous, and 1% am I allowed to turn my phone off?” Ah yes, the Derby might be an old fashioned gig, but folks are still worried about their cell phones and what to do with them.

Ms. No Name Placing Two Phils in Post Position 3

So what is the big deal about post positions? In horse racing it can mean alot depending on the track where they are racing, the length of the race and the number of entries in the race. Certain tracks have what they call a bias in that positions closer to the rail do better because the tracks’ turns are shorter and sharper. Also, with the Derby having 20 entries, the theory goes that it is tougher for horses with positions 10 thru 20 to finish in the money because they have farther to run than do the horses with the closer to the rail positions. (That theory was dispelled last year when long shot Rich Strike won the Derby and he was a PP 20.) For a good article on all this as well as containing stats on which Derby post positions tend to do better than others (click here.)

The race will go off at 6:57 Saturday evening and I will be behind the Buzzy counter making sure you have a mint julep in hand for the occasion. (I may even gin up a friendly pool to give you a pony to root for.) So drop in and enjoy the most exciting 2 minutes in all of sports.

Speaking of Skinner, you know where that has to lead musically don’t you? Check out one of their more underrated tunes where I could say that I know a little about horse racing and the little I know has sure cost me a lot of money thru the years. Ronnie’s brother Johnny on lead vocals here:

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