BALTIMORE (AP) — At a field with no top three finishers in the Kentucky Derby, the odds that Hall of Fame coach Bob Baffert would not possess the favorite in the Preakness are, well, Improbable.
Baffert will seek out a record-setting eighth Preakness victory Saturday with 5-2 morning line favorite Improbable, who’ll begin from the No. 4 post in a field of 13 horses.
War Will, the second choice at 4-1, obtained the No. 1 post in Wednesday’s draw.
For the first time since 1951, the Preakness will not incorporate the four horses which crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby. Improbable finished fifth and was transferred to fourth after the disqualification of Maximum Security for hindrance.
It had been the only time in six career races which Improbable failed to finish first or second. On Saturday, co-owner Elliott Walden hopes his horse gets back on track after viewing a second of his horses, Justify, roll to a Triple Crown triumph in 2018.
“I feel like we’re favored by default this season,” Walden conceded. “However, this horse has a good restart. He ran very well in the Derby without hitting the board.”
Improbable can expect a smoother ride inside a small field, after being bunched tightly from the 19-horse Kentucky Derby.
“Happy with the 4 post. Post positions here are a little bit anti-climactic,” Walden said. “There’s not a lot whole lot for this. We just hope he gets off clean and he’s able to get in a Wonderful rhythm.”
Baffert didn’t attend the draw, but he will no doubt be in the middle of items Saturday. Baffert and R.W. Walden, who saddled seven winners in the late 1800s, are currently tied atop the Preakness leaderboard.
War Will, meanwhile, is stuck on the rail with the No. 1 place — the same place he started from in the Kentucky Derby, when he finished eighth and has been moved up to seventh.
“We definitely know it is not as awful as the Derby,” coach Mark Casse said. “One thing about it: the 1 hole can be immensely good or it may be extremely bad. From the Derby it was really bad, so I am presuming we are going to have extremely good this time.”
Another two Derby participants in this race are Bodexpress and Win Win Win. Bodexpress (14th in the Derby, moved up to 13th) will separate from the No. 9 post and is 20-1 on the morning line. Win Win Win (10th to 9th at Churchill Downs) is 15-1 in the 13 hole.
Bodexpress is striving for his first career victory, together with hopes of becoming the first maiden to win the Preakness since reluctantly recorded a four-horse race in 1888.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, 83, is looking for his seventh Preakness victory with Market King, 30-1 on the morning line and starting from the No. 8 post.
“I really don’t think the post position matters a lot since he is a very good gate horse,” Lukas said. “I don’t think he’s the quickest but he will be shut. By the time they get to the clubhouse turn, he should be put somewhere where we are comfortable.”
This is Lukas’ 44th Preakness entry, more than any coach at the 144-year history of this race.
Alwaysmining drew the No. 7 post and odds of 8-1. Not only is Kelly Rubley seeking to become the first female trainer to win the Preakness, but the final Maryland-bred horse to finish first in the race has been Deputed Testamony in 1983.
“I think that it’s more about the horse than the simple fact that I’m a girl coach,” Rubley said. “The horse brought me here, and I am very proud of him.”
Everfast, entered before the draw on Wednesday, was the longest shot in the field at 50-1.
The horse is trained by Dale Romans, who won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford.
“Some of the best contenders are missing, so we’ll have a chance,” Romans said from Louisville, Kentucky.
Preakness chances and starting posts (Westgate)
WAR OF WILL 4/1
BOURBON WAR 12/1
WARRIOR’S CHARGE 12/1
MARKET KING 40/1
LAUGHING FOX 30/1
WIN WIN WIN 12/1
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