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Colonel John gets favorable post for Derby

The Santa Anita Derby winner will leave from the No. 10 hole. Favorite Big Brown winds up with the outside 20th slot.

May 01, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Generally, post positions in a horse race don't mean much, but when you're talking about a 20-horse field for Saturday's Kentucky Derby it helps to start somewhere in the middle.

Using that rational, Colonel John got a leg up on Big Brown on Wednesday. Colonel John, the Santa Anita Derby winner, will start in post position 10, while Florida Derby winner Big Brown opens from the less desirable 20th slot.

This is the 134th Kentucky Derby and the only previous winner from the No. 20 post was Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.

Still, Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia made Big Brown the 3-1 favorite, with Colonel John a close second at 4-1.

Colonel John's good fortune began with the morning preliminary draw to determine the order in which the post positions are selected. Colonel John got the third pick, Big Brown the 16th.

The main draw was held later in the day in downtown Louisville.

In explaining why he left Big Brown in the favorite's role, Battaglia said it was because trainer Dick Dutrow Jr. has been so outspoken about his horse winning.

And Dutrow's confidence hasn't wavered. "I feel that if we run our race, and he breaks clean, I don't see a horse as of yet that can beat Big Brown," he said after the draw. "I just don't see it. I don't want to see it, either."

Of picking the outside post, Dutrow said, "We prefer just to break on the outside. We'd rather have that than the 1, 2, 18 or 19 post. We get assured of a clean trip. If he breaks good, we figure it's to our advantage. We had a few choices and felt we took the best shot."

Colonel John's trainer, Eoin (pronounced Owen) Harty, when asked if his horse should be favored over Big Brown, said, "No, not at all. . . . He's been very impressive, my horse has struggled to win a couple of times. I'm glad he's the favorite. He deserves to be."

The only other horse in the field assigned odds of less than 15-1 was Pyro, a one-time Derby favorite who will start from post position No. 9 at odds of 6-1.

Michael Matz, the trainer of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, is back in the Derby with Visionaire, a 20-1 long shot. Visionaire earned the first pick in the preliminary draw and his connections went with the No. 8 post -- the same one Barbaro had two years ago.

Gayego, the West Coast horse that won the Arkansas Derby, is listed at 15-1 and will start from the 19th post. Bob Black Jack, second to Colonel John by half a length in the Santa Anita Derby, made the field and is one of nine horses listed at 20-1.

Bob Black Jack's connections are counting on 13 being their lucky number.

Picking 13th, co-owner Jeff Harmon went with post position No. 13.

"I actually like his post a lot," trainer James Kasparoff said. "There's a lot of speed to our outside and I think that is going to work to our advantage.

"We got to pick 13 and we got 13. I find that interesting."

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larry.stewart@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Kentucky Derby field

Post positions and field for the 134th Kentucky Derby. Weights: 126 pounds. Distance: 1 1/4 miles. Purse: $2,211,800 if 20 start. First place: $1,451,800. Second: $400,000. Third: $200,000. Fourth: $100,000. Fifth: $60,000. Saturday's approximate post time: 3:04 p.m. PDT. TV coverage begins at 2 p.m. PDT on Channel 4:

*--* PP HORSE JOCKEY TRAINER ODDS 1. Cool Coal Man Julien Leparoux Nick Zito 20-1 2. Tale Of Ekati Eibar Coa Barclay Tagg 15-1 3. Anak Nakal Rafael Bejarano Nick Zito 30-1 4. Court Vision Garrett Gomez Bill Mott 20-1 5. Eight Belles Gabriel Saez Larry Jones 20-1 6. Z Fortune Robby Albarado Steve Asmussen 15-1 7. Big Truck Javier Castellano Barclay Tagg 50-1 8. Visionaire Jose Lezcano Michael Matz 20-1 9. Pyro Shaun Bridgmohan Steve Asmussen 6-1 10. Colonel John Corey Nakatani Eoin Harty 4-1 11. Z Humor Rene Douglas Bill Mott 30-1 12. Smooth Air Manoel Cruz Bennie Stutts Jr. 20-1 13. Bob Black Jack Richard Migliore James Kasparoff 20-1 14. Monba Ramon Dominguez Todd Pletcher 15-1 15. Adriano Edgar Prado Graham Motion 30-1 16. Denis Of Cork Calvin Borel David Carroll 20-1 17. Cowboy Cal John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 20-1 18. Recapturetheglory E.T. Baird Louie J. Roussel III 20-1 19. Gayego Mike Smith Paulo Lobo 15-1 20. Big Brown Kent Desormeaux Richard Dutrow Jr. 3-1 *--*

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