BALTIMORE - The one post that Bob Baffert didn't want was the 1, which is where his Kentucky Derby winner, American Pharoah, ended up at Wednesday's Preakness draw. His other colt, Derby third-place finisher Dortmund, drew the 2, so Baffert's powerful 1-2 punch got the old 1-2 from Lady Luck.
Baffert has trained five Preakness winners, third all-time, so maybe he was due for a little misfortune at Pimlico.
"I can't believe I drew the 1-2, of all draws. I don't love it, but we're there. still has to break well. If he's the best horse, we'll find out," Baffert said of his 4-5 morning-line favorite. "When you're down on the inside, you have to break well."
Minimizing the effects of the draw is the compact field of eight, the smallest in 15 years in the 13/16-mile second leg of the Triple Crown.
"I'm just glad I didn't draw that for the Derby," Baffert said, trying to look at the bright side. "It's the luck of the draw, and sometimes you've got to give a little. If you had told me I'd win the Derby but at Pimlico we're going to stick you in the 1 hole, I would have said, 'I'll take it.' ''
Dortmund (7-2) is the second favorite, with Derby runner-up Firing Line third choice at 4-1. Firing Line drew the outside, which will let Gary Stevens play the break and decide where he wants to place him.
"I'm pretty pleased," Stevens said. "If I can draw the trip up the same way I would have drawn the draw up, then we're in good shape."
Earlier, trainer Simon Callaghan said post 8 would be his choice for Firing Line. From his mouth to the racing gods' ears. "We've got options from out there," he said. "It's perfect."
Assuming Firing Line gets out of the gate without any incidents. The break is the key.
D. Wayne Lukas, who trains 20-1 Mr. Z (post 3), downplayed the draw's importance. "We always plan our strategy," he said, "and then the gates open and all hell breaks loose."