04/30/2014 7:02PM

Jerkens concerned about No. 20 post for Wicked Strong

Barbara D. Livingston
Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong, shown training Thursday, drew the far-outside post for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Jimmy Jerkens was enjoying his first Kentucky Derby experience until Wednesday’s post-position draw, where his Wood Memorial winner, Wicked Strong, was assigned post 20 for Saturday’s 140th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

“I didn’t like it,” Jerkens said afterward. “At least you got a long run to the first turn.”

Since 1930, there have been 14 horses to break from post 20 in the Derby, with Big Brown in 2008 the only one to win from there. Caveat, in 1983, was the only other horse to finish in the top three.

On television, the retired Hall of Fame jockey and current racing analyst Jerry Bailey said the post might not be so bad considering that Wicked Strong comes from well off the pace.

“Like Jerry was saying, if the speed is quick and they might get to rolling in a clump, he can draft in behind them, and it will work out okay,” Jerkens said.

The one positive for Wicked Strong is that he, along with Wildcat Red, who drew post 10, will be the last of the 20 horses to load, so he won’t have to stand in the gate very long. However, in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Wicked Strong had issues behind the gate prior to that race and ultimately finished ninth.

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“That’s a concern,” Jerkens said. “He’ll be behind the gate a long time, but for a 20-horse field, they usually get ‘em loaded pretty quick. I don’t know, I’m trying to convince myself it’s not a bad post, but I don’t know if I can.”

Rajiv Maragh will ride Wicked Strong.

During the one-hour draw telecast, jockey Edgar Prado texted Jerkens with the word “perfect” to describe his reaction to the draw. Prado, who is sidelined with a neck injury, rode Wicked Strong to a maiden victory at Belmont Park last October.

“I said, ‘Are you kidding me,’ ” Jerkens said. “He said, ‘Absolutely perfect.’ I said, ‘Okay, I hope you’re right.’ ”

Due to the draw, Mike Battaglia, the oddsmaker at Churchill Downs, dropped Wicked Strong from second choice to third choice at 8-1 behind Hoppertunity, who drew post 10 and was made the 6-1 second choice behind California Chrome (5-2).

:: KENTUCKY DERBY: Posts, odds, and comments

Mike Watchmaker, the national handicapper for Daily Racing Form, kept Wicked Strong as the second choice at 8-1, ahead of Hoppertunity (10-1).

Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert said the No. 20 post for Wicked Strong might not be so bad.

“Sometimes it can help you because you can be in the middle, and it could be a complete wreck in the middle, and at least he’s going to be free of a lot of stuff if it happens,” Baffert said.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
things are looking up Jimmy, now you are post 19
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
You beat me to it.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Takes a lttle racing luck to win ther derby. He could actually get the best trip know one really knows how it is going to play out.
David Coyne More than 1 year ago
If you haven't seen the movie Let it ride in a while.. or heaven forbid EVER. This is a good weekend for it. Good luck to you all.
GregoryA More than 1 year ago
Actually I am happy that it is Maragh, and not Prado. Maragh is a much more patient rider who excels with closers, while Prado is better at sitting just off the pace. I only hope that he doesn't start his closing prematurely, as many inexperienced Kentucky Derby jockeys do. A lot of them start to make their move at the top of the stretch, and even sometimes before that. They fail to realize just how long the Churchill Downs stretch is, and therefore flatten out before the wire. If Maragh is smart, he'll follow, follow, follow, and then swing out AFTER they have already turned for home, then push his mount for all he's worth.
David Llamas More than 1 year ago
The Chief will probably give his son a pep talk and all should be fine!
James Mcrae More than 1 year ago
well its not perfect but its better than the 1-2-3 holes being buried on the rail or you have to run 22 seconds to the turn all maragh has to do is settle in mid pack stay clear into the far turn and mow them down in the stretch easy as apple pie ill take mine with vanilla ice cream please
The Truth More than 1 year ago
Wicked Strong has a mid 80 average Beyer speed rating..The professional gamblers and the horse racing media are trying to get everyone on this horse...He'll probably finish exactly how he started........20th
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
The two horses that have a shot aside from CC probably make the most sense to run in behind - Danza and Wicked Strong. Danza's run was awfully impressive, he felt the whip at the top of the lane and drew clear by open lengths in a vigorous handride. Seemed like there was plenty in the tank - yes it was a big move forward and the price will be there to make it worth a swing, Wicked Strong set off a solid pace by four or five, came wide and won easily while in no way being fully extended. This is not a dead closer. Hoppertunity could improve and nibble. General ARod and Wildcat Red could easily also be players for minor slots. I like California Chrome by 4 or 5 lengths, and would like to Danza to fill out the exacta.
Patrick Reid More than 1 year ago
Correction. ..wicked maragh.
Patrick Reid More than 1 year ago
Not a really bad post as people think, I called that post walking away from trouble when u see it especially that first turn , and if they go too fast on the front end then here comes wicked strong on the wide outside to nail them on the wire under a brilliant ride by wicked marathon. If cc run his race...gonna be a tuff horse to beat.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
I have a sneaky feeling ezpinoza might try and go gate to wire with this horse especially if he breaks alertly. He head over heels better these horses which I think might entice ezpinoza to take him gate to wire if he breaks alertly and go. Could c another big brown here people.
Jacqueline Schumacher More than 1 year ago
For California Chrome's sake, I hope he's not another Big Brown. That story didn't end very well for Brown.