CRAWFORD | For Preakness, Baffert doesn't like his draw, but sti - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | For Preakness, Baffert doesn't like his draw, but still likes his hand

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Associated Press photo. Associated Press photo.
BALTIMORE, Md. (WDRB) — If Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah is to win the second leg of the Triple Crown, as trainer Bob Baffert has done three times previously when he brought the Derby winner to Pimlico, he'll have to overcome the inside post.

American Pharoah drew the No. 1 post position, with stablemate Dortmund just outside him at No. 2 for Saturday's running of the 140th Preakness Stakes.

It's not quite the tight spot that drawing the inside post is in the freakishly large Derby field, but it's still not a welcome position for Baffert. More can go wrong from the No. 1 post than just about anywhere else, and a clean break out of the gate is a must.

A field of eight will go to post for the $1.5 million middle jewel, which covers 1 3/16 miles.

“I can't believe I drew the 1-2 of all draws,” Baffert said. “I'm just glad we didn't draw that for the Derby. Sometimes you've got to give a little. It's a short field, eight horses. He still has to break well. If he's the best horse, we'll find out. I don't like the inside. I never like the one hole. Sometimes they don't break as well. But he's drawn the one hole before at Santa Anita. . . . It's the luck of the draw. I don't love it, but they'll be easy to watch.”

The draw didn't stop American Pharoah from being installed as the heavy 4-5 morning-line favorite. Dortmund is second choice at 7-2.

It'll also be easy to watch Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line, who drew the outside post. Firing Line has been impressive in gallops the past two weeks since finishing a length behind American Pharoah in the Derby.

After twice finishing just behind Dortmund in races at Santa Anita, Firing Line beat his rival in Louisville. Now he'll take aim at American Pharoah with Hall of Famer Gary Stevens aboard. He's at 4-1 in the morning line.

“If I can draw up the trip the same way that I would have drawn the draw up, then we're in good shape,” Stevens said. “I'm pretty pleased.”

Elaborating on the draw, with his main competition inside, Stevens said, “I think it's going to force their hand a little, and with Mr. Z drawn to the inside (in post No. 3), I don't think it's any secret, Wayne wants this horse up close in the Derby. New owners, new connections now. It's really going to force their hand down inside, and I'll have options. (Firing Line) has sat (off the lead) before. . . . But the way everybody else drew, with those three being down inside, it gives me a lot of options.”

There could've been a lot more competition in the race. Todd Pletcher's Materiality, who had a horrible Kentucky Derby trip but still got up for fifth place, will bypass the race, as will his Carpe Diem and Competitive Edge, who was seen as a prime Preakness contender, especially after remaining unbeaten in winning the Grade 3 Pat Day mile on the Derby undercard.

But Pletcher doesn't like the quick turnaround (he's run only seven horses in the Preakness, compared to 43 in the Derby), and will aim his group toward the Belmont instead.

Others in the Preakness: Danzig Moon will break from the No. 4 post at 5-1, D. Wayne Lukas' Mr. Z will break from No. 3 at 20-1, Danzig Moon from the No. 4 post at 15-1, Dallas Stewart's Tale of Verve at 30-1 from the No. 5, Bodhisattva from the No. 6 at 20-1 for owner-trainer Jose Corrales and Arnaud Delacour's Divining Rod from the No. 7 hole at 12-1.

Lukas will saddle his 40th Preakness starter with Mr. Z, who was sold after the Derby, then entered in the Preakness by his new ownership, Brad Kelly's Calumet Farms. That partnership with Lukas also won the 2013 Preakness with Oxbow.

Mr. Z finished 13th in the Derby, but Lukas, who is chasing his seventh Preakness win, says that race was a throw-out.

“He didn't get any chance to run in the Derby,” Lukas said. “I think he'll run a good race. He didn't get a lot out of the Derby and he's training well. We'll give him a shot. I've been lucky here before.”

With luck not smiling on the favorites at the post-position draw, everybody was feeling just a tad more fortunate with three days till the race.

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