How Many Winners Has the Number 1 Post Position in the Kentucky Derby Produced?

Written by:
Don Shapiro
Published on:
Apr/30/2023

This might be a trick question.  How many winners have come from the Number 1 post position in the Kentucky Derby?

There have been quite a few, 8 to be exact.

The problem is that all these wins occurred pre-1986 and all but one between 1937 and 1963, thus the trick component of this question.

Post Position 1 — 8 winners

Ferdinand (1986); Chateaugay (1963); Needles (1956); Hill Gail (1952); Citation (1948); Gallahadion (1940); Lawrin (1938); War Admiral (1937).

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Simply put: It's probably the least favorite spot to start outside of the No. 17 position, which is the only one not to give us a winner.

This post position is dreaded due to the difficulties for horses to secure enough racing room upon breaking into a crowded field of 20 horses.

The 20 entries only began in 1975.  By comparison, only 13 horses were entered in the 1973 Kentucky Derby.

Don't believe us in terms of the difficulty starting from the 1 spot?  Check out what some unlucky trainers have had to say.

"It is what it is," Ocho Ocho Ocho trainer Jim Cassidy said after his horse drew first in the 2015 Kentucky Derby.  "It’s a tough spot but what are you going to do? My plan, to be honest with you, is still to take hold and sit in the second flight. I’ve got to think Carpe Diem and a couple of those others are going to go but I don’t want to go with them, or sit behind. That’s what I’m going to talk to Elvis [Trujillo] about."

Ocho Ocho Ocho would go on to finish 14th in that year's Kentucky Derby.

Jason Servis, trainer of Firenze Fire, took the more optimistic approach in 2018 upon drawing No. 1: “I think it’s a lot better than 19 or 20, really. I’d rather be inside. I’m OK with it.”

Firenze Fire would go on to finish 11th.

Kelly Breen offered this when Black Onyx was unlucky enough to start from the dreaded No. 1 position in 2013:

“Saturday we hope to make it the winningest post position in Kentucky Derby history. We know Oxbow isn’t the best of breakers; it’s not a bad horse to be next to. We’re going to make the best of what we can. We’re going to go back and look at all the different things, different scenarios, and we’ll put all those different things in to Joe’s head and he’s going to go out there and ride his race anyway.”

You can't draw blood from a stone. 

And Black Onyx wasn't even going to try.  He ultimately got scratched before the start of that year's race.

- Don Shapiro, Gambling911.com

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