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Derby Horses 2011: Expert Picks Roundup After Wednesday's Post Draw

With the 2011 Kentucky Derby just two days away and the post draw in the rear-view mirror, handicappers are licking their chops and beginning to make a few early positions. With the post draw comes another set of odds, which we'll get to shortly, and another chance for predictions and picks ahead of the big race. Below, you'll find a few predictions and observations, leaning heavily on the happenings at Churchill Downs.

ESPN's Claire Novak went with the eye-test to judge the 2011 Kentucky Derby horses. By her standard, the way a horse looks, both in training and on the grounds at Churchill Downs, in the few days before a race says a lot. While there are still many factors that go into winning the Kentucky Derby, part of the equation is peaking at the right time. And these three horses -- Archarcharch, Shackleford and Brilliant Speed -- all passed her eye-test.

Although Archarcharch, Shackleford and Brilliant Speed might not be the top buzz horses of this year's Derby (they're all in the second tier of regarded runners), they've been three of the best lookers in the bunch this week.

While he stopped short of making a picks, And Down The Stretch They Come's Matt Gardner had a few observations about Wednesday's post draw. Where a horse start can have a significant bearing on where it finishes, making the post position a significant factor in the Kentucky Derby. And though Soldat starts near the outside, it just may be a good draw for him.

Is it just me, or is that a nice draw for Soldat?  Outside most the speed and Garcia can choose how he wants to go early on. Plus, if he's a bit outside and not on the lead, he can keep out of the kick back, something he hated in the Florida Derby.

Be sure to check out Gardner's full analysis for more on the post positions and what they mean.

We'll find out whether it matters in the 2011 Kentucky Derby as the horses take to the starting gates on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Stay with our 2011 Kentucky Derby StoryStream for previews, odds and analysis up to and throughout the derby. For more on the race, head over to SB Nation's Kentucky Derby StoryStream or check out And Down The Stretch They Come.