BALTIMORE (AP) — At a field with no top three finishers in the Kentucky Derby, the chances that Hall of Fame coach Bob Baffert would not have the favorite in the Preakness are, well, Improbable.
Baffert will seek a record-setting eighth Preakness victory Saturday with 5-2 morning line favorite Improbable, who will start in the No. 4 post in a field of 13 horses.
War Will, the second choice at 4-1, received the No. 1 post at Wednesday’s draw.
For the first time since 1951, the Preakness won’t incorporate the four horses that crossed the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. Improbable finished fifth and was transferred to fourth after the disqualification of Maximum Security for interference.
It was the only time in six career races which Improbable failed to finish first or second. On Saturday, co-owner Elliott Walden expects his horse gets back on course after watching another of his horses, Justify, roll into a Triple Crown win in 2018.
“I feel like we are favored by default this year,” Walden conceded. “However, this horse has a good resume. He ran very well in the Derby without hitting on the plank.”
Improbable can anticipate a smoother ride within a field after being bunched closely from the 19-horse Kentucky Derby.
“Happy with the 4 article. Post places here are a bit anti-climactic,” Walden said. “There’s not a lot whole lot to it. We just hope he gets away clean and he is able to get in a nice rhythm.”
Baffert didn’t attend the draw, but he will undoubtedly be in the center of things Saturday. Baffert and R.W. Walden, who saddled seven winners in the late 1800s, are now tied across the Preakness leaderboard.
War of Will, meanwhile, is stuck onto the railroad with the No. 1 place — the exact same place he started from in the Kentucky Derby, when he finished eighth and has been moved up to seventh.
“We certainly know it’s not quite as bad as the Derby,” coach Mark Casse said. “One thing about it: that the 1 hole can be extremely good or it can be exceedingly bad. In the Derby it was really bad, so I’m thinking we’re going to have extremely good this time.”
The other two Derby participants in this race are Bodexpress and Win Win Win. Bodexpress (14th at the Derby, moved around 13th) will break from the No. 9 post and is 20-1 on the morning . Win Win Win (10th to 9th in Churchill Downs) is 15-1 from the 13 hole.
Bodexpress is striving for his first career victory, together with hopes of getting 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 success with Market King, 30-1 on the morning line and beginning from the No. 8 article.
“I really don’t believe the post position things a lot since he’s an excellent gate horse,” Lukas said. “I don’t think he is the quickest but he will be close. By the time they reach the clubhouse turn, he should be put somewhere where we’re comfortable.”
This is Lukas’ 44th Preakness entrance, more than any coach in the 144-year history of the race.
Alwaysmining drew the No. 7 post and chances 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 at 1983.
“I think it’s more about the horse compared to the fact that I am a woman trainer,” 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 take a chance,” Romans said from Louisville, Kentucky.
Preakness odds 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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