Drawing It Up

There is more than one school of thought on post position draws. After all, you see people voicing selections on social media before races are even drawn. I am not one of those. Post position is indeed a factor in my opinion and I think it is important to know where horses are lining up, and who they are next to before making a wager.

The importance of the draw varies from racetrack to racetrack and also at different distances. We all are quite familiar with the dreaded rail draw for the Kentucky Derby. That might just be the most watched and well known draw of them all.

The draw in the Breeders’ Cup is very important and especially so at Santa Anita and at some specific distances. It can have a major impact on how a race is run and who wins and loses.

Breeders’ Cup races usually have larger fields and that makes the draw all the more key to deciphering how a race will be run.

The Breeders’ Cup Mile is a two turn race at Santa Anita. There is a short run to that first turn and it is pretty easy to get hung out wide losing crucial ground. Once you are say outside the 8 post, you have to be very careful. It is going to be tough to save ground. If you wind up wide into that first turn, and don’t make that up into the second turn, your chance of winning becomes pretty slim, especially in a competitive race like the Breeders’ Cup Mile. A good ride and a sharp jockey can make all the difference but generally, outside horses are up against it. Speed helps as if you can clear, or get out fast, you can save some ground. The rail or extreme inside posts can be troublesome also. If a horse doesn’t have speed from the inside at a mile at Santa Anita, or isn’t a good gate horse, they can easily wind up bottled up, and with an expected fast pace for the distance that can spell trouble.

Things don’t get much better in the Turf Mile. Not every horse is Lure and not every rider is Mike Smith. It takes a special horse, and a very fortunate trip to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile at Santa Anita from the outside. All the same, issues exist as on the main track, but the run to the turn is a little shorter, and those turns are a little tighter. The inside in this race tends to get congested into that first turn as well.

When betting these two races I focus a good deal on the pace scenario. I see who breaks well and who doesn’t and also try and anticipate what riders will be aggressive and who will be patient. This helps me decide if I can confidently use a horse I don’t feel is drawn well. A bad draw is not an automatic toss, but it is cause for pause.

The Breeders’ Cup Sprint is a fast paced race. I remember a few years back I loved a horse named Jimmy Creed in the race. He was drawn inside. When I projected the pace all I could envision was him being all bottled up. Sure he could have lucked out and got out, but in a fast heat like that with everybody hustling and holding their position, it was unlikely. Even with Garett Gomez, one of the best, I had to pass on a horse I loved. He got stuck inside, never got out and lost. He came back to win the Malibu drawing away I believe convincing me he could have won the Sprint with a better draw. I prefer outside the 5 post in the sprint, but not as far out as say 11 or 12.

The turf sprints in the Breeders’ Cup are also faster than average races. Outside horses have little time to make up ground. They need a perfect set up and trip or have to be significantly best to win.

Things start to even out as the races get longer. The Juvenile races at a mile and a sixteenth show how important that extra sixteenth can be. The draw is not nearly as vital as in the Mile.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic at a mile and a quarter almost negates the draw altogether. Sure it is the same distance as the Derby but the draw doesn’t matter nearly as much. There is no dreaded rail due to no oversized field or auxiliary gate. Even with a full 14 you get a long straight run into that first turn and the riders have plenty of time to adjust. The pace is also not as blistering as in the shorter races again making it easier to adjust.

This weekend with the exception of the first Saturday in May, could very well be when the draw can make or break someone. It is something I will be paying attention to. When you log into your AmWager account to play the Breeders’ Cup you want every edge and advantage you can get. Analyzing the post positions can help you get just that. Remember all those people making selections prior to the draw? This is your chance to eat them for breakfast.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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