CRAWFORD | American Pharoah draws No. 5 post at Belmont - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | American Pharoah draws No. 5 post at Belmont

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Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, left, leads Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner American Pharoah onto the track for a jog with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez, Wednesday, June 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, left, leads Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner American Pharoah onto the track for a jog with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez, Wednesday, June 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- American Pharoah will start his quest for the Triple Crown in Saturday's Belmont Stakes right next to perhaps his biggest threat in the race.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt took post position No. 5 and was made the 3-5 morning line favorite in the Belmont post-position draw Wednesday at Rockefeller Center. Frosted, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, took post No. 6 and is the second choice at 5-1.

“I don't really think there's a horrible post position, but I've always liked the five,” said Baffert, who has taken a fairly relaxed approach heading into his fourth crack at the Triple Crown, though he acknowledges he'll be more nervous than he looks until the horses get to the gate. “More important is that the horse is doing well so far and he looks like he's doing great.”

Baffert has been second-guessed by some, including by Billy Turner, the trainer of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, for keeping American Pharoah at Churchill Downs and waiting until five days before the race to ship his colt to Belmont Park.

But Baffert shrugged off those concerned, noting that he brought Empire Maker to Belmont on the Wednesday of race week. Empire Maker won the Belmont in 2003.

“I think every trainer has a certain comfort zone and that's my comfort zone,” Baffert said. “Churchill Downs, I like that surface. American Pharoah gets over that track really well, and our main concern is to keep him healthy and happy and so I know that sometimes in New York with a mile-and-a-half, the wet, the sandy, the coarse, sandy track. So, I've done it both ways. I had Paynter up there and I took Cavonnier up there and I take my other horses. Point Given, I did this with him, he went up there and won by 13 lengths in the gallop. So, I don't really think it really makes a difference. I've had so much luck shipping out of Churchill Downs in New York and won numerous Grade 1 races and they never looked like they were tired.”

McLaughlin's Frosted has posted the highest speed figure of any 3-year-old this year, a 107 in winning the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 4.

In the Kentucky Derby, he encountered some traffic issues and ran wide before getting up for fourth, just over three lengths behind the winner. But McLaughlin was pleased with the effort, and has had his colt training at Belmont since then. He should be rested and ready to face the Pharoah.

“We had the second-best horse, in my opinion,” McLaughlin said. “It was just circumstances we were fourth, and we ran farther than everybody else except the winner. We ran a huge race on all figures and hopefully we can repeat that.”

Still, he acknowledges it'll be a difficult job, after watching American Pharoah's workouts at Churchill Downs.

“He just looks special,” McLaughlin said.

The second-fastest race, by speed figures, by a 3-year old this season has been by Todd Pletcher's Materiality, who finished sixth, nearly eight lengths back, in the Derby. He ran a deceivingly good race that day, however, after being bumped badly at the start and having traffic trouble throughout.

He hasn't raced since the Derby, and like Frosted, has been training at Belmont Park, as has his stablemate Madefromlucky, who won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 9, and hasn't raced since. That's the road Tonalist took to the Belmont Winner's Circle a year ago.

Post positions and odds for the race:

1 Mubtaahij 10/1
2 Tale of Verve 15/1
3 Madefromlucky 12/1
4 Frammento 30/1
5 American Pharoah 3/5
6 Frosted 5/1
7 Keen Ice 20/1
8 Materiality 6/1

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