BALTIMORE (AP) — At a field without the top 3 finishers from the Kentucky Derby, the odds that Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert wouldn’t have 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 in the No. 4 post in a field of 13 horses.
War Will, the second choice at 4-1, received the No. 1 place at Wednesday’s draw.
For the first time since 1951, the Preakness will not incorporate the four horses which crossed the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. Improbable finished fifth and was transferred to fourth following 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 that his horse gets back on track after watching another of his horses, Justify, roll to a Triple Crown win in 2018.
“I feel as if we are preferred by default this season,” Walden conceded. “But this horse has a good resume. He ran very well in the Derby without hitting on the board.”
Improbable can expect a ride within a field that is small, after being bunched tightly from the 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 only hope he gets off clean and he is able to get in a nice rhythm.”
Baffert didn’t attend the draw, but he will no doubt be in the middle of things Saturday. Baffert and R.W. Walden, who saddled seven winners in the late 1800s, are currently tied across the Preakness leaderboard.
War Will, meanwhile, is stuck on the railroad 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’s not as bad as the Derby,” coach Mark Casse explained. “One thing about it: that the 1 hole can be extremely great or it may be extremely bad. From the Derby it was really bad, so I am presuming we are going to have really 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 separate from the No. 9 article and is 20-1 on the morning . Win Win Win (10th to 9th at Churchill Downs) is 15-1 from the 13 hole.
Bodexpress is striving for his first career success, 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 searching for his seventh Preakness victory with Market King, 30-1 on the morning line and beginning from the No. 8 article.
“I really don’t believe the post position matters much because he’s a very good gate horse,” Lukas said. “I don’t think he’s the fastest but he will be shut. By the time they reach the clubhouse turn, he should be put somewhere where we are comfortable.”
That is Lukas’ 44th Preakness entry, more than any coach in 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 last Maryland-bred horse to finish first in the race was Deputed Testamony at 1983.
“I think it’s more about the horse than the simple fact that I am a woman trainer,” Rubley said. “The horse brought me , and I’m very proud of him”
Everfast, entered before the draw on Wednesday, was the greatest shot in the field at 50-1.
The horse is trained by Dale Romans, who won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford.
“A few of the top contenders are missing, so we’ll take an opportunity,” 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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