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No trouble at all

There may be no worse post position in racing than the 1 post at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby. You have 19 horses breaking outside of you and are likely to get into a traffic jam, and if you take a straight path out of the starting gate, you'll run right into the inner rail. That's one of the main reasons no one has won from the inside spot since Ferdinand in 1986.

But should you not play a horse you really like who will be a good price just because of the rail? That's the dilemma I'm facing this year with Vicar's in Trouble, and I'm going to take my chances.

Vicar's in Trouble actually caught my eye when he finished third in the Risen Star. That day he had a really bad post (the 13), got caught way wide early, and then made a steady advance against a moderate pace to finish third. Next time out he drew well (post 6), controlled the pace, and handily beat his opponents in the Louisiana Derby.

In Saturday's Kentucky Derby, it will all depend on the trip. Pegasus couldn't win from the 1 post if he gets stopped six times and blocked. But if Rosie Napravnik can work out a Calvin Borel-like trip on Vicar's in Trouble and save ground throughout and stay out of trouble, he can absolutely win it all.

Vicar's in Trouble is not a good bet at 4-1. He'd be a great bet at his morning line odds of 30-1, but you're not going to get anywhere near that price. I expect he'll be about 15-1, which is too good a price to resist on a horse who is coming off an impressive win in a major prep. And he'd be even lower odds if he drew a good post, so the risk of taking the 1 post will be rewarded with higher odds if he wins.

For most of the week, I thought I was going to pick the obvious favorite, California Chrome. Coming into the race, he's clearly the best and fastest horse on paper, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he wins. It's just that I am wary of horses who may have peaked too soon. Entering the San Felipe, he looked like nothing more than a very good California-bred. He overcame that knock when he whipped graded-stakes horses in the San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby. If he runs back to either race and gets a good trip, he will likely win. But will he? It's quite possible that he fired his best shot in the Santa Anita Derby and is going to pay the price Saturday.

I'll use California Chrome on my tickets, along with a few long shots and midpriced horses that might sneak in there for the trifectas and superfectas.

I'll use California Chrome on my tickets, along with a few long shots and midpriced horses that might sneak in there for the trifectas and superfectas.

I believe both of the New Yorkers, Uncle Sigh and Samraat, should run well. They may be a notch below the best, but they are tough and reasonably consistent. After a poor showing in the Wood Memorial, Uncle Sigh will add blinkers, which trainer Gary Contessa said should help him overcome the mental issues that hurt him in the Wood. If you like those two, you have to consider the horse who beat them in the Wood, Wicked Strong. But the post position gods did him no favors with an outside draw.

Commanding Curve looks as if he's in over his head, but he is improving and trainer Dallas Stewart finished second last year with long shot Golden Soul. General A Rod is another who might not be good enough to win, but he never runs a bad race and drew well. He can contend.

Here's who I don't like: Danza looks like a one-race wonder. He showed little before his win in the Arkansas Derby and figures to bounce. It appears that Dance With Fate can run well only on synthetic tracks. The same goes for We Miss Artie. Tapiture appears to be heading in the wrong direction after a lackluster showing in the Arkansas Derby. Chitu has a sprinter's pedigree and Bob Baffert seemed ambivalent about running him in the Derby. Wildcat Red, though a good horse, is another who is not bred for the mile-and-a-quarter distance of the Kentucky Derby.