The 2012 Kentucky Derby post position draw will be held May 2, three days before the big race, from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern and will be televised on NBC Sports Network, which was formerly known as Versus. Post positions for the Kentucky Derby can go a long way in determining how a horse will perform in America's greatest horse race.

Post positions for the Kentucky Derby are determined by random draw, which occurs shortly after entries are taken and the final field of up to 20 3-year-old Thoroughbred racehorses is determined. In the event more than 20 horses are entered in the Kentucky Derby, the final field is decided based on the amount of earnings in graded stakes races a horse has accrued on the road to the Triple Crown.

The way in which post positions for the Kentucky Derby are determined was altered by Churchill Downs several years ago. Previously, Churchill Downs employed a unique concept that was met with a mixed response. In that format, representatives for each horse in the Kentucky Derby would draw a number out of a “hat” the morning entries were taken, much like in a traditional post position draw. However, this number didn't represent the horse's post position. What the numbers did reflect was the order in which representatives for each horse would choose their respective post position later that day.

For example, whoever selected the number “one” out of the hat would have the first choice of post positions. Number “two” would have second choice, number “three” the third choice, etc. It was an interesting concept, but didn't make for the most exciting television. Ultimately, Churchill Downs scrapped the idea and returned to the traditional “blind” draw that is used in every other horse race in the United States.

There really are no steadfast rules when it comes to how post position will affect a horse's performance in the Kentucky Derby. These horses are considered the best the sport has to offer, so in theory the ones that are destined for true greatness should be able to overcome any obstacle the Kentucky Derby can throw at them.

However, there are a couple of things you can look at with regards to Kentucky Derby post position. Though the rail provides the shortest way around the Churchill Downs strip, inside post positions can be major obstacle for horses lacking in early speed. These horses are likely to get buried and shuffled back early in the race when the quicker horses on the outside come over to get better position.

The 2010 Kentucky Derby provides a perfect example of this scenario. Lookin At Lucky was the champion 2-year-old of 2009 and after a strong Kentucky Derby prep season, was made the Kentucky Derby favorite for bettors. However, Lookin at Lucky was ultimately unlucky as he drew post number one.

Lookin at Lucky endured a brutal trip in the 2010 Kentucky Derby. He was pinched back early by the speed horses to his outside and could never find clear sailing until it was too late. Lookin at Lucky closed fast, but could do no better than sixth to Super Saver. Two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes, Lookin at Lucky would easily beat many of the same horse that caused him trouble in the Kentucky Derby and would go on to be named champion 3-year-old.

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