LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Easy Goer, the favorite for the 115th Kentucky Derby Saturday at Churchill Downs, drew the No. 14 post in a 16-horse field when entries were taken Thursday, but trainer Shug McGaughey was not dissatisfied.
"I would have been happy with anything but No. 1 or being in the second starting gate," McGaughey said. "One of my main concerns was being on the inside, because on that first turn, everybody will be trying to pack you in."
Sunday Silence, who is given the best chance for an upset, will start from the No. 10 post.
"When you've got good horses, you shouldn't have to worry about the post," said Charlie Whittingham, who trains Sunday Silence. "When Ferdinand drew No. 1 for the Derby in 1986, I hated it, but he won anyway. Easy Goer is in the main gate, so his post shouldn't bother him too much."
The main gate accommodates 14 horses. Being in the auxiliary gate is considered a disadvantage because that gate is smaller and the horses break from the extreme outside for the cavalry charge through the stretch the first time. In 1982, Gato Del Sol became the only Derby winner to have started from the extra gate.
Saturday, Wind Splitter and Northern Wolf will break from the second gate. They have other reasons to lose, having been placed in the mutuel field, along with Notation, by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia. The tote board can handle only 12 numbers and the overflow, so the horses with the least chance of winning are grouped together for betting purposes.
Easy Goer, who will run with an entrymate, Awe Inspiring, is listed as the 3-5 favorite. The last odds-on favorite to win the Derby was Spectacular Bid, who went off at 3-5 in 1979.
The lineup for the 1 1/4-mile, $759,200 Derby, in order of post position:
Clever Trevor, with Don Pettinger riding at odds of 30-1; Flying Continental, Corey Black, 30-1; Western Playboy, Randy Romero, 8-1; Hawkster, Marco Castaneda, 30-1; Shy Tom, Chris Antley, 8-1; Houston, Laffit Pincay, 8-1; Dansil, Larry Snyder, 20-1; Faultless Ensign, Chris De Carlo, 50-1; Triple Buck, Jose Santos, 30-1; Sunday Silence, Pat Valenzuela, 3-1; Irish Actor, Don Howard, 50-1; Notation, Herb McCauley, 50-1; Awe Inspiring, Craig Perret, 3-5; Easy Goer, Pat Day, 3-5; Wind Splitter, Donnie Miller, 50-1, and Northern Wolf, Jo Jo Ladner, 50-1.
Like Easy Goer and Awe Inspiring, Houston and Shy Tom are coupled in the betting because both horses are trained by Wayne Lukas. All of the starters will carry 126 pounds. First is worth $584,200.
Sunday Silence showed that he is ready for Easy Goer's challenge by working a half-mile Thursday morning in :46 3/5. Easy Goer breezed in :47.
There was one jockey change when entries were drawn, Don Howard replacing Eddie Maple on Irish Actor. Maple failed to win while riding Irish Actor in his last three starts, including a fourth place in the Arkansas Derby.
"When you're not winning, you've got to try something," said LeRoy Jolley, who trains Irish Actor.
The weather forecast, which originally called for showers Saturday, has been changed to partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 60s.
Saturday's Kentucky Derby Field
PP Horse Jockey Odds 1. Clever Trevor Don Pettinger 30-1 2. Flying Continental Corey Black 30-1 3. Western Playboy Randy Romero 8-1 4. Hawkster Marco Castaneda 30-1 5. a-Shy Tom Chris Antley 8-1 6. a-Houston Laffitt Pincay 8-1 7. Dansil Larry Snyder 20-1 8. Faultless Ensign Chris DeCarlo 50-1 9. Triple Buck Jose Santos 30-1 10. Sunday Silence Pat Valenzuela 3-1 11. Irish Actor Don Howard 50-1 12. f-Notation Herb McCauley 50-1 13. b-Awe Inspiring Craig Perret 3-5 14. b-Easy Goer Pat Day 3-5 15. f-Wind Splitter Donnie Miller 50-1 16. f-Northern Wolf Joe Ladner 50-1
a--Wayne Lukas-trained entry.
b--Shug McGaughey-trained entry.
Trainers (by post position): 1. Donnie K. Von Hemel; 2. Jay M. Robbins; 3. Harvey Vanier; 4. Ron McAnally; 5. Wayne Lukas; 6. Wayne Lukas; 7. Frank Brothers; 8. Ben Perkins Jr.; 9. John Lenzini; 10. Charlie Whittingham; 11. LeRoy Jolley; 12. James W. Murphy; 13. Shug McGaughey; 14. Shug McGaughey; 15. Dale Capuano; 16. Hank Allen.
Owners (by post position): 1. Don McNeill; 2. Jack Kent Cooke; 3. Harvey and Nancy Vanier, and Ray Roncary; 4. J.S. Meredith; 5. William T. Young; 6. Wayne Lukas, L.R. French and Barry Beal; 7. John Franks; 8. Anthony Tornetta, et al; 9. Gary Morano; 10. Arthur B. Hancock III, Charlie Whittingham, and Dr. Earnest Gaillard; 11. Kalarikkal Jayaraman. 12. J.C. Johnson, et al; 13. Ogden Mill Phipps; 14. Ogden Phipps; 15. Randall F. Williams; 16. Deep Silver Stable.
Weights: Each 126 pounds.
Distance: 1 1/4 miles.
Purse: $759,200 if 16 start. First place: $584,200. Second place: $100,000. Third place: $50,000. Fourth place: $25,000.
Post time: 2:33 p.m., PDT.
TV: ABC, 1:30 p.m., PDT.