BALTIMORE — There were lots of “Oohs” at Wednesday’s post-position draw when Pimlico oddsmaker Keith Feustle made Justify the 1-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Preakness. Well, it was going to be that or 3-5.
Trainer Bob Baffert had no doubt that his undefeated Kentucky Derby winner would be odds-on, but he played along. “I don’t know,” he said, “that’s putting some added pressure on all of us. But the horse doesn’t know he’s 1-2.’’
Justify drew post 7, the same spot he had in the Derby, in a field of eight for the 143rd running of the 1 3/16-mile Crabtown classic. Good Magic, who was second in the Derby by a widening 2½ lengths, has post 5 and is the 3-1 second choice. Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip drew the rail and is 12-1. The other five are 15-1 or higher: Lone Sailor (post 2, 15-1); Tenfold (post 6) and Bravazo (post 8) are 20-1 and Sporting Chance (post 3) and Diamond King (post 4) are 30-1.
Elliott Walden is the president and CEO of WinStar Farm, which co-owns Justify and Quip. He was fine with how both drew. “Anything here with eight horses,” Walden said, “you can’t get a bad draw.”
Baffert is 4-for-4 in the Preakness with his Derby winners and won it two other times. If Justify does what’s expected of him, Baffert will tie 19th century trainer R.W. Walden’s record.
Post 7 will give jockey Mike Smith the option to go for the lead or to track the pacesetter. “From 7 there’s room for error,” Baffert said. “I think the break is so important, so I’m fine with it. Quip has speed, but you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
New Orleans-based Tom Amoss, who trains Lone Sailor, thinks Justify is in a great place.
“No. 7 is an awesome spot for Justify,” Amoss said. “It’s always great to have tactical speed and a position where the jockey can look over and watch the race unfold and decide how he wants to ride.
“He certainly didn’t lose anything at the draw, that’s for darn sure.”