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Kentucky Derby trainers search for positives in traditionally bad post positions

Kentucky Derby hopeful War of Will is ridden

Kentucky Derby hopeful War of Will is ridden during a workout at Churchill Downs on April 30, 2019, in Louisville. Credit: AP/Charlie Riedel

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Invariably, after a horse works out, no matter how quickly or slowly, a trainer will say, “Perfect, exactly what I wanted.”

Post 1 hasn’t produced a Kentucky Derby winner since 1986, yet when War of Will drew the dreaded rail Tuesday, Mark Casse still did his best to accentuate the positive. This spin move occurred a few minutes after Casse gasped and buried his head in his hands when the bad news was announced.

"You know what, it could be worse, I think,” Casse said. “Our horse is really on his game, so he’ll probably come away from there running. I think we’ll probably be on the lead and play catch me if you can. At least we have the shortest way around.

"I’ve thought I had great draws before and gotten wiped out, so maybe this is the change.”

After Vekoma got post 6, a position with two wins in Derby history, George Weaver’s comment was straight out of the trainer playbook: “This is a perfect spot.”

Foreign intrigue

Master Fencer will be the first Japanese-bred to run in the Derby. He was fourth in Japan’s qualifying points race but got in because the first three weren’t nominated. “We are happy to be in the race,” trainer Koichi Tsunoda said. 

Local customs

When an out-of-towner walks around New York City, trying to make eye contact is a rookie mistake. Down here in the ‘Ville, you get an unforced smile and a hello. When you ask for directions, a detailed reply usually ends with “Have a good day, buddy.”

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