LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- There were groans in the amphitheater of the Kentucky Derby Museum yesterday when post positions were announced for Fly So Free and Best Pal, two of the Derby favorites.
Fly So Free drew the No. 1 post and Best Pal drew No. 15, both extremely disadvantageous.
The ideal posts in this large, usually unwieldy field are probably from between 4 and 12. It's a brutal run to the first turn, where the horses all sweep into the turn like a funnel, trying to get closest to the rail.
Sea Cadet is the likely pacesetter. Chris McCarron, his rider, will try to slow down the pace once he gets clear, and that means there could be a lot of checking and piling up among the 15 horses behind him.
Fly So Free, who showed in the Blue Grass that he resents being held back, is going to have to go for the lead from the 1-hole. He has no other choice or he could be trapped on the inside. Best Pal is going to have to be used early to jump out smartly and move over in time to get position. It could all get real tricky.
Hansel, among the top four contenders, drew the best post, No. 6. Strike The Gold drew No. 5, but might have preferred to be a bit farther out.
Here is an analysis, horse by horse, including post position.
* Best Pal (15): Training superbly, but must be tons the best horse to overcome his outside post.
* Fly So Free (1): Will avenge his Blue Grass loss, but could hang again if he gets into a stretch battle with Best Pal.
* Lost Mountain (9): He's a long shot who wants the 12 furlongs.
* Hansel (6): The Kentucky hardboots' favorite, but he's bred more for the Preakness than the Derby.
* Green Alligator (8): He's eligible to pass tired ones.
* Strike The Gold (5): Ran his best race in the Blue Grass.
* Alydavid (2): Overcame a lot of trouble in the Derby Trial; has had a race over the track.
* Mane Minister (10): Has some tactical speed, is said to be improving.
* Sea Cadet (4): Chris McCarron will get him to carry his speed as far as possible.
* Quintana (16): A son of Affirmed who was claimed off of Wayne Lukas for $50,000.
* Corporate Report (12): The best Lukas could come up with after spending about $17 million on yearlings in 1989. The horse bruised his foot earlier in the week.
* Happy Jazz Band (14): The best he's done is a distant third in the Wood Memorial.
* Another Review (13): Buckland Farm runner recently taken over by John Campo; should have stayed in New York.
* Paulrus (11): Suits 1 1/2 miles on the grass. Why here?
* Wilder Than Ever (3): Doesn't belong.
* Forty Something (7): Shows speed, then quits.
* Weights: Each 126 pounds. * Distance: 1 1/4 miles. * Purse: $905,800 if 16 start. First place: $655,800. Second: $145,000. Third: $70,000. Fourth place: $55,000. * Post time: 5:32 p.m. EDT. * TV: Channel 13. * Radio: WBAL-AM (1090).