Post position as a factor in the Breeders' Cup

October 20th, 2017

Having the classiest and most in-form horse is arguably the most important element for Breeders’ Cup success. Other handicapping factors, such as post position, generally take a back seat or are less important than they might be on more ordinary race days. Nonetheless, a look at which post positions recent Breeders’ Cup winners have broken from yields some interesting tidbits.

Since 2010, which encompasses the post-synthetic era at Santa Anita as well as the last three Breeders’ Cups held in Kentucky, outside posts in the one-turn sprints on dirt (the TwinSpires Sprint and Filly & Mare Sprint) have won a significant share of the small 14-race sample. Six winners broke from posts 7-9 while four broke from posts 10 and higher.

Afraid the horse you like in one of the turf routes has drawn outside? Don’t be. More than half of the winners in the Turf, Mile, Filly & Mare Turf, Juvenile Turf, and Juvenile Fillies Turf (20 of 35) broke from posts 7 or higher. Indeed, posts 10 and higher accounted for 11 of the 35 winners in the sample.

If you just limit it to the 15 grass routes held at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, the turf configurations of which are more like Del Mar’s than Santa Anita’s, posts 7-9 have yielded the winner six times and posts 10 and up four times. In the Turf Sprints held in Kentucky, posts 2, 8, and 14 (Mongolian Saturday at Keeneland) were successful.

As far as the 35 dirt routes held since 2010 in the Classic, Distaff, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, and Dirt Mile, 22 winners broke from posts 1-6, with posts 4, 5, and 6 accounting for 16 of those 22.

Rather than look at past Breeders’ Cups, some handicappers might be more inclined to look at post position stats for the latest summer meeting at Del Mar. Here is what happened from July 19 through September 4, courtesy of Equibase:

As you can see, some of the statistics noted above run contrary to what generally occurred over the resort course during the summer. Unfortunately, turf course stats aren’t broken down between five-furlong races and those around two turns or more.

There will only be two days of the Bing Crosby meeting at Del Mar in the books before Day 1 of the Breeders’ Cup is held on November 3, an opportunity for players to potentially glean any additional clues from an admittedly small sample of races. 

(Benoit Photos)