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Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby at The Downey Profile®

 

POST POSITION / EARLY SPEED

 

This page focuses on how post positions and early speed impact the outcomes of races at Kentucky Downs. All statistics are from one-turn races with distances ranging from six furlongs to one mile 70 yards. Races going two turns (1 5/16 mile and 1 1/2 mile) are not included due to the small sample size.

For the most part, there is a recurring theme showing winners on firm ground having good early speed and coming, in many instances, from post positions in the inner half of the gate. The corollary is that on softer ground, early speed is not as effective, and outside posts produce a higher percentage of winners.

 

2017 Summary

This meet started out with a high water table beneath the turf surface after remnants of Hurricane Harvey dropped about eight inches of rain in the area, causing a postponement of day 1 of the meet from a Saturday to a Wednesday. There was more rain from Hurricane Irma, though not nearly as much, before day 5, the final day of the meet. The track was rated good the first two days, fast the second two days, and yielding or good the final day.

In line with my theory about how the track plays when it's wet, in races going a mile and 70 yards or less, horses that started from the six outside posts won at a greater the rate than those who started from the six inside posts. There were 20 winners from 175 starters in posts 7 through 12 (11.4%), and there were 21 winners from 246 starters in posts 1 through 6 (8.5%). While early speed sometimes held well, much more often that not races were won by stalkers or closers that came from multiple lengths off the pace after the first half-mile. Not a single starter won from post 1.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 41 41 41 41 41 41 39 38 31 30 22 15
Winners 0 4 6 2 6 3 5 3 7 2 1 2
Win % 0% 10% 15% 5% 15% 7% 13% 8% 23% 7% 5% 13%

 

 

Day 5 of 2017 -- Sept. 14 (Thursday)

After a couple of days of on-and-off drizzle, the track was rated yielding at the outset and changed to good after about four races. The Equibase charts erroneously show a yielding rating throughout the card. Two winners led all the way, one was a length off the lead after a half-mile, and the other five were anywhere from four to 7 1/4 lengths off the lead after a half-mile.

From the inner half of the gate there were four winners from 48 starters (8.3%), and from the outer half of the gate there were four winners from 30 starters (13.3%), so horses starting on the outer half of the gate won at a rate more than 50% greater than those starting on the inner half of the gate.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 5 5 3 1
Winners 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 0
Win % 0% 0% 25% 8% 8% 0% 0% 25% 40% 0% 0% 0%

 

 

Day 4 of 2017 -- Sept. 10 (Sunday)

The track was rated firm again on Sunday, and the rail remained at zero. There were fast times, including one track record. Four horses led gate to wire, two horses were about three lengths off the lead after the first half-mile, and two were a little more than five lengths back after the first half-mile.

There were four winners from 48 starters (8.3%) from the inner half of the gate. and four winners from 39 starters (10.2%) from the outer half of the gate.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 5 3
Winners 0 2 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0
Win % 0% 25% 0% 13% 13% 0% 13% 13% 13% 14% 0% 0%

 

 

Day 3 of 2017 -- Sept. 9 (Saturday)

The track was rated firm on Saturday and was in great shape. In addition, rails moved out in the far turn and stretch the first two days were at zero. This led to faster times. One horse led wire-to-wire. Three winners were 1/2 length to 1 1/2 length behind after a half-mile, two winners were behind by three and 3 1/2 lengths after a half-mile, and two winners were a bit over five lengths behind after the first half-mile.

Winners were pretty equally distributed between the inner half of the gate and the outer half of the gate. Posts 1-6 produced 5 winners from 48 starters (10.4%), and posts 7-12 yielded three winners from 32 starters (10.4%).

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 6 6 4 2
Winners 0 1 0 0 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 1
Win % 0% 13% 0% 0% 38% 13% 0% 0% 17% 17% 0% 50%

 

Day 2 of 2017 -- Sept. 7 (Thursday)

I thought the track would play firmer on Thursday than it did on opening day, but it still had plenty of give to it and was ranked good for the second straight day. If anything, the advantage to late-running horses was more pronounced than it was on day 1. Nothing led wire-to-wire. Three winners were 1 1/2 length behind after a half-mile, two winners were behind by three or more lengths after a half-mile, and three winners were six, 7 3/4 and 10 lengths behind after a half-mile

Winners were pretty equally distributed between the inner half of the gate and the outer half of the gate. Posts 1-6 produced 5 winners from 48 starters (10.4%), and posts 7-12 yielded three winners from 37 starters (8.1%).

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 7 7 5 4
Winners 0 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1
Win % 0% 13% 38% 0% 0% 13% 14% 0% 14% 0% 0% 25%

 

Day 1 of 2017 -- Sept. 6 (Wednesday, delayed from Saturday)

The track was rated good. The area took six or eight inches of rain late in the prior week, causing a postponement of opening day. By opening day, the track still had give to it and was rated good.

Our study only utilizes races at a mile and 70 yards or less. The longer races don't yield a meaningful statistical sample.

From the inside half of the gate there were three winners from 54 starters (5.55%), and from the outside half of the gate there were six winners from 37 starters (16.2%), meaning that horses starting from the outer half of the gate won at triple the rate of horse starting from the inner half of the gate. The ground was firmer out toward the middle of the track.

From nine races, one was won by a horse on the lead at each call, three were won by a horse less than a length off the lead after a half-mile, one was won by a horse exactly one length off the lead after a half-mile, three were won by horses from two to 3 1/2 lengths off the pace after a half-mile, and one winner was 11 lengths back after a half-mile.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 5 5 5 5
Winners 0 0 1 0 1 1 3 0 2 0 1 0
Win % 0% 0% 11% 0% 11% 11% 33% 0% 40% 0% 20% 0%

 

 

2016 Summary

In races going a mile and 70 yards or less, with virtually every race run on a track rated firm, horses that started from the six inside posts won at double the rate of those who started from the six outside posts. There were 29 winners from 246 starters in posts 1 through 6 (11.8%), and there were 12 winners from 202 starters in posts 7 through 12 (5.9%). Early speed from inside posts held well.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 41 41 41 41 41 41 40 39 39 34 31 19
Winners 7 2 6 5 4 5 5 0 4 2 0 1
Win % 17% 5% 15% 12% 10% 12% 13% NA 10% 6% NA 5%

 

Day 1 of 2016 -- Sept. 3 (Saturday)

The track was rated firm. The area took lots of rainfall in July and the first half of August but dried out afterward. By opening day the track had just a little bit of give to it and played fair.

From the inside half of the gate there were five winners from 54 starters (9.3%), and from the outside half of the gate there were four winners from 46 starters (10.9%), so the distribution could hardly have been more even.

From nine races, two were won by horses on the lead at each call, and five were won by horses either on the lead or stalking within 3 1/2 lengths of the lead after a half-mile. The other four winners closed from 5 1/4 to 6 1/2 lengths off the lead after the first half-mile.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 5
Winners 1 0 2 1 0 1 2 0 1 0 0 1
Win % 11% NA 22% 44% NA 11% 22% NA 13% NA NA 20%

 

Day 2 of 2016 -- Sept. 8 (Thursday)

The track was rated firm, and it was firmer than it was on Day 1.

From the inside half of the gate there were four winners from 48 starters (8.3%), and from the outside half of the gate there were four winners from 41 starters (9.6%), so the distribution was pretty much even like it was on day 1.

From eight races going less than 1 5/16 mile, two were won by horses on the lead at each call, two were won by horses only a head back after a half-mile, two were won by horses within two lengths of the lead after a half-mile, and two were won by horses that were 5 1/4 and 11 1/2 lengths off the lead after a half-mile. One of those races kind of fell apart at the end. In two races going 1 5/16 mile, one winner led all the way and one was only a couple of lengths back after six furlongs.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 6 5
Winners 2 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 0
Win % 25% NA 13% 13% NA NA 13% NA 25% 17% NA NA

 

Day 3 of 2016 -- Sept. 10 (Saturday)

The track was rated firm, and it was firmer than it was on Days 1 or 2 -- until it rained after race 6. Afterward, the track was rated yielding

From eight races going less than 1 5/16 mile, from the inside half of the gate there were six winners from 48 starters (12.6%), and from the outside half of the gate there were two winners from 32 starters (6.3%), so the distribution clearly favored the inside half of the gate. This is mainly due to the fact that in the five races going less than 1 5/16 mile that were run before it rained, there were four winners from 30 starters (13.3%) from the inner half and 1 winner from 26 starters (3.8%) from the outer half.

Speed held up all day in the eight races going less than 1 5/16 mile. Two were won by horses on the lead at each call, and five were won by horses that were either on the lead or in second place after a half-mile. Only one of that group was more than 1 1/2 length off the pace at that point. Oddly enough, the two marathon races, races typically won by horses that are near the front pace, were both won by horses that were in seventh place after a mile -- one of them was 6 1/2 lengths off the pace (race run after the rain) and one was 11 1/4 lengths off the pace (race run before the rain).

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 7 5 5 1
Winners 0 1 3 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0
Win % NA 13% 38% NA 13% 13% 14% NA NA 20% NA NA

 

Day 4 of 2016 -- Sept. 11 (Sunday)

The track was rated good at the outset following rainfall the previous afternoon. There had been no rain prior to that day since mid-August, and it soon became clear that, for the most part, the track had absorbed the water and was firm. As this is posted, Equibase has the track rated good through the first four races, but Kentucky Downs rated the track firm following the second race, and I agree with the track's assessment based on the times of the races and the way the races were run.

From eight races going less than 1 5/16 mile, from the inside half of the gate there were seven winners from 48 starters (14.6%), and from the outside half of the gate there was one winner from 43 starters (2.3%), so the distribution heavily favored the inside half of the gate.

Speed held up almost all day in the eight races going less than 1 5/16 mile. Two were won by horses on the lead at each call, and five more were won by horses that were within 2 1/4 lengths of the lead after a half-mile. One winner was four lengths back after a half, and one was 8 1/2 lengths back. In two races going 1 5/16 mile, one winner was second by two lengths after six furlongs and the other was sixth, 3 1/2 lengths back after six furlongs.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 5
Winners 2 0 0 3 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0
Win % 25% NA NA 38% 13% 13% NA NA 13% NA NA NA

 

Day 5 of 2016 -- Sept. 15 (Thursday)

The track was was firm. From eight races going less than 1 5/16 mile, from the inside half of the gate there were seven winners from 48 starters (14.6%), and from the outside half of the gate there was one winner from 40 starters (2.5%), so the distribution again heavily favored the inside half of the gate.

Speed held up in five of the eight races going less than 1 5/16 mile, and three of those races were won by deep closers, so the day was a bit unusual in that respect. Horses either on the lead at each call or within 2 1/2 lengths of the lead after a half-mile won five times. Three other winners were 7 1/2 or more lengths back after a half-mile. In two races going 1 5/16 and 1 1/2 mile, one winner was second by one length after a mile, and the other was sixth, 4 1/2 lengths back after a mile.

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 6 3
Winners 2 1 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Win % 25% 13% NA NA 25% 25% 13% NA NA NA NA NA

 

 

Day 1 of 2015 -- Sept. 5 (Saturday)

The track was rated firm, but it's been firmer, and that's because it had been watered. The grass was green and lush. It was a hot, sunny day with a good breeze most of the time, and the track tightened up as the day progressed. Twice as many winners broke from from posts 1-6 as from posts 7-12, and the inner posts won at a higher percentage of starters as well.

Early speed was dominant. From nine races going less than 1 5/16 mile, six were won by horses that were no worse than third, 2 1/2 lengths off the lead, after the first half-mile. However, only one of those six winners led at each call.

Posts 1 - 6: There were six winners from 54 starters = 9.25%

Posts 7-12: There were three winners from 39 starters = 7.7%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 7 7 5 3
Winners 1 0 0 4 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 1
Win % 11% NA NA 44% 11% NA NA 25% NA NA NA 33%

 

Day 2 of 2015 -- Sept. 10 (Thursday)

The track was rated yielding. Races 3-10 were cancelled. Both winners came from inside posts but were well off the pace in the early going. One was sixth, 5 1/2 lengths back, and one was 11th, 8 1/4 lengths back after the first half-mile.

Posts 1 - 6: There were two winners from 12 starters = 16%

Posts 7-12: There were no winners from nine starters = 0%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
Winners 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Win % 50% 50% NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

 

Day 3 of 2015 -- Sept. 14 (Monday)

The track was rated good. It had dried out some from Sept. 10 but still had noticeable moisture in it. Consistent with previous findings under this circumstance, most winners came from outside posts and from well off the early pace. From 10 races, six winners were from 4 3/4 to 8 1/4 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile, and they were positioned anywhere from seventh to 10th. Only one winner led at each call.

Posts 1 - 6: There were four winners from 60 starters = 8%

Posts 7-12: There were six winners from 49 starters = 12%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 6 4
Winners 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 2 1 2 0
Win % 10% 10% 10% NA 10% NA 10% NA 20% 11% 33% NA

 

Day 4 of 2015 -- Sept. 16 (Wednesday)

The track was rated firm. Although it still had a bit of moisture in it, It had dried out and continued to do so as the day progressed. Winners coming from inside posts were equal to those from outside posts, but early speed played well. From 10 races, while only one winner led after a half-mile, seven more winners were within 2 1/2 lengths of the lead after a half-mile, and six of those seven were positioned anywhere from second to fourth.

Posts 1 - 6: There were five winners from 60 starters = 8.3%

Posts 7-12: There were five winners from 47 starters = 10.6%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 5 3
Winners 1 0 2 1 1 0 1 3 0 1 0 0
Win % 10% NA 20% 10% 10% NA 10% 30% NA 11% NA NA

 

Day 5 of 2015 -- Sept. 19 (Saturday)

The track was rated firm, and times were relatively fast. A track record was set in one race, and we got pretty close in a couple of others. However, the day was an anomaly in our study because, despite these conditions, winners came from outside posts at almost double the rate of inside posts. In terms of early speed, from 10 races no winners led after a half-mile, but eight winners were within three lengths of the lead after a half-mile.

Posts 1 - 6: There were four winners from 60 starters = 6.7%

Posts 7-12: There were six winners from 45 starters = 13.3%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 5 3
Winners 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 0 4 1 0
Win % NA NA NA NA 30% 10% NA 11% NA 44% 20% NA

 

Day 1 of 2014 -- Sept. 6 (Saturday)

The first day of the 2014 meet was pretty much the polar opposite of its 2013 counterpart. While the track was rated firm both days, it was very dry on the first day of the 2013 meet but had considerable moisture in it on opening day 2014.  Early speed won a hefty part of the time on opening day 2013. On opening day 2014, in races going a mile and 70 yards or less, not one horse that led after a half-mile won. Five of the eight winners at those distances were anywhere from 3 1/2 lengths to 7 1/4 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile.

In addition, outside posts produced winners at a much higher rate than inside posts on this year's opening day -- the opposite of 2013. The portion of the track next to the rail was softer than it was in the middle.

Posts 1 - 6: There was one winner from 48 starters = 2.1%

Posts 7-12: There were seven winners from 34 starters = 34%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 6 3 3
Winners 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 2 1 0 1 0
Win % NA 13% NA NA NA NA 38% 29% 14% NA 33% NA

 

Day 2 of 2014 -- Sept. 10 (Wednesday)

Day 2 of the 2014 meet was unlike Day 1 in three respects. (1) While the track was rated firm both days, it was much drier the second day. (2) Starters from posts 1-6 produced winners at a rate a little more than double that of starters from posts 7-12. Unlike Day 1, the portion of the track next to the rail was not soft; instead, it was producing a dusty kickback. (3) There was an equal division of winners in two groups: horses on or close to the lead after a half-mile won four races, and horses 4 1/2 lengths or more off the pace after a half-mile won four races.

Posts 1 - 6: There were six winners from 48 starters = 13%

Posts 7-12: There were two winners from 33 starters = 6%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 7 6 3 3
Winners 0 0 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1
Win % NA NA 25% 25% 13% 13% NA NA NA 17% NA 33%

 

Days 3, 4 and 5 and of 2014 -- Sept. 13, 17, 24 (Saturday, Wednesday, Wednesday)

Days 3, 4 and 5 of the 2014 meet came on a firm surface, and no rain had fallen at the track since before Day 2. Thirteen of 25 winners came from posts 1-6, and 12 of 25 winners came from posts 7-12. This was a more even distribution than either of the first two days.

On Day 3, early speed was dominant, with seven of nine winners either on the lead or running in second position after a half-mile. Four of those seven were on the lead after a half-mile. Only two winners were 5 1/2 lengths or more off the lead after a half-mile, and one of those two was in second position at the time.

On Day 4, from nine winners, one led after a half-mile, and one was second at that point, but four more winners were 1 1/2 lengths or less off the lead after a half-mile, and another one was only 3 1/2 lengths off the lead at that point. That's a total of seven of nine winners flashing early speed.

On Day 5, from seven winners, two led after a half-mile and three more were 2 1/2 lengths or less off the lead after a half-mile. The other two winners after the first half-mile were fourth, four lengths off the lead and seventh, 4 3/4 lengths off the lead.

Posts 1 - 6: There were 13 winners from 150 starters = 8.66%

Posts 7-12: There were 12 winners from 102 starters = 11.76%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 23 16 10 3
Winners 2 2 2 2 1 4 1 6 1 3 1 0
Win % 8% 8% 8% 8% 4% 16% 4% 24% 4% 19% 9% NA

 

 

Days 1, 2, 4 and 5 of 2013 -- Sept. 7, 11, 18 and 25 (Saturdays and Wednesdays)

Early speed won a hefty part of the time during days 1, 2 and 4 of the 2013 meet, and early speed was seen in just over half the winners on day 5. During these four days, inside posts won at a much higher rate than outside posts. The track was, for lack of a better way of expressing it, on the drier side of firm on days 1, 2 and 4.

On day 5, the track was not as dry, but it was firmer than it was on day 3 (see below). Five days before day 5, .86 inch rain fell in the area, and four days before day 5, .62  inch fell. Day 2 of the meet, a Wednesday, was curtailed after a lightning storm knocked out the track's tote system.

Posts 1 - 6: There were 24 winners from 204 starters = 11.8%

Posts 7-12: There were 10 winners from 140 starters = 7.1%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 34 34 34 34 34 34 34 30 30 26 13 7
Winners 7 2 2 2 5 6 3 3 1 1 2 0
Win % 21% 6% 6% 6% 15% 17% 9% 10% 3% 4% 15% NA

 

Day 3 of 2013 -- Sept. 14 (Saturday)

While the track was rated firm on this Saturday, it had taken good rains after the races on the preceding Wednesday and on Thursday. The results from Day 3 are similar to those of the 2012 meet, when wet conditions were dominant. Paths closer to the rail were softer, and so outside posts won more often and at a much higher rate than they did during the drier days 1, 2, 4 and 5.

Posts 1 - 6: There were 4 winners from 53 starters = 7.5%

Posts 7-12: There were 5 winners from 31 starters = 16%

Post 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Starters 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 6 5 3 1
Winners 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 1 2 2 0 0
Win % NA 22% NA 22% 11% NA NA 13% 33% 40% NA NA

 

2012

The track took heavy rain at the outset of the meet, and more rain fell before its fifth and final day. One day of the would-be six-day meet was cancelled due to rain. Paths closer to the rail were softer, and so outside posts won more often and at a much higher rate.

Posts 1 - 6: There were 15 winners from 215 starters = 7%

Posts 7 - 12: There were 21 winners from 130 starters = 16%

 

2010-2011

Day 1 of 2010 saw good ground the first race and yielding ground thereafter, but only four races were run at one turn, so the stats for that day are meaningless.

Days 2, 3 and 4 of 2010 were run on firm ground. From 24 races, six were won by runners on the lead after a half-mile, and another 12 were won by runners within 3 1/2 lengths of the lead after a half-mile.

In 2011, days 1, 2, 3 and 4 were all rated firm. From 29 races, seven were won by runners on the lead after a half-mile, and another 12 were won by runners within 3 1/2 lengths of the lead after a half-mile.

During the two combined years, the inside six post positions were stronger than the outside six post positions.

Posts 1 - 6: There were 37 winners from 316 starters = 11.7%

Posts 7-13: There were 16 winners from 165 starters = 9.7%

 

PLEASE NOTE: In 2010 and 2011, races were run four days each year as scheduled, on Saturdays and Mondays. In 2012, races were scheduled for six days: Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. The second Monday was cancelled due to rain.

ALSO PLEASE NOTE: All statistics are from one-turn races with distances ranging from six furlongs to one mile 70 yards. Races going two turns (1 5/16 mile and 1 1/2 mile) are not included due to the small sample size.

 

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