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Churchill Downs Adjusts Kentucky Derby Post Postion Selection Process
By: John Asher
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 24, 2003) - Churchill Downs has made an adjustment in the process for the selection of post positions for the Kentucky Derby that will now place the random draw that establishes the order of selection at the closing of entries for the race.
The change in the process means that the "blind" draw that establishes the order in which post positions for Kentucky Derby 129 are to be selected will now be conducted in the Churchill Downs Racing office at the official closing of entries. The actual selection of post positions by authorized agents for each Kentucky Derby entry will continue to be the centerpiece of the Kentucky Derby Post Position Selection telecast on ESPN, which this year is scheduled to be part of a special "ESPN SportsCenter at the Kentucky Derby" scheduled for 5:00-6:00 p.m. (all times EDT) on Wednesday, April 30.
The "blind" draw for selection order and subsequent selection of post positions for the Kentucky Derby has been conducted during a special one-hour ESPN telecast since 1998, when Churchill Downs modified its post draw process for the Derby to allow participants in the race to select the starting positions for their horses. Before that change, post positions for the race had traditionally been established by a single random draw known as the "Pill Pull" during which the starting positions for each horse were determined by numbered balls, or "pills," drawn one-by-one from a bottle.
Under the adjusted process, the field for the Kentucky Derby and the order of post position selection will be set at the time of closing of entries, which usually occurs between 11:00 a.m. and Noon. The Derby field will also be made available to the public at that time. There is no also-eligible list for the Kentucky Derby and no change in the official list of entries for the race will be permitted after the close of entries.
Along with the move of the blind draw for post selection order from the ESPN Kentucky Derby Post Position Selection telecast, the change will also eliminate a "discussion period" for owners and trainers that had also been part of the program.
"The Kentucky Derby Post Position Selection process was created in an effort to attract new fans to our race and the sport of Thoroughbred racing by incorporating more drama and strategy to the proceedings and we think it has succeeded," said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs. "ESPN has done a marvelous job with the Derby Post Selection telecast and this change will allow its talented hosts, reporters and analysts a better opportunity to achieve that goal during this important hour of Kentucky Derby Week television coverage."
"The change in the draw process allows our show to give the viewer more insight into the horses that will break from the post positions drawn and the people that train and ride them," said Bill Graff , ESPN coordinating producer. "The suspense of the draw makes this one of the most unique and exciting events on ESPN and in all of sports."