We've known for a little while that Orb will face a small field at the 2013 Preakness Stakes, but the ascendant horse may be facing a tougher trek than expected following Wednesday night's draw.
The Kentucky Derby winner drew the inside post for the nine-horse field, which was drawn at 6 p.m. for the 138th running at Pimlico Race Course. The Preakness Stakes' official Twitter feed sent out the entire field following the announcement:
Preakness Stakes @PreaknessStakes
@PreaknessStakes the 138th draw http://t.co/dL6WHfi2155/15/2013, 10:18:33 PM
For Orb, the inside post is one of the worst possible outcomes. Horses have historically struggled to start off the inside at Pimlico, and things will only get more difficult with a motivated Goldencents looking to shield Orb in post No. 2.
As for how this affected betting odds, the results were mixed. With only nine horses in the field, sportsbooks aren't throwing around astronomical odds. Titletown Five at 30-1 is the only horse in the field below 15-1, which is a stark change from the widely spread field at the Kentucky Derby.
Nevertheless, as betting trends continue to shape the field prior to Saturday's race, these odds are sure to see massive changes. With that in mind, let's take a look at a complete breakdown of the post positions and latest odds for every horse following Wednesday's announcement.
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Md.
When: Saturday, May 18
Post Time: 6:20 p.m. ET
Purse: $1 million
Television: NBC Sports Network
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario ||Shug McGaughey ||1-1|
|2||Goldencents ||Kevin Krigger ||Doug O’Neill ||8-1|
|3||Titletown Five||Julien Leparoux||D. Wayne Lukas||30-1|
|4||Departing||Brian Hernandez Jr||Albert M. Stall, Jr||6-1|
|5||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||5-1|
|6||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||15-1|
|7||Will Take Charge||Mike Smith||D. Wayne Lukas||12-1|
|8||Govenor Charlie||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||12-1|
|9||Itsmyluckyday||John Velazquez||Eddie Plesa Jr.||10-1|
*Morning line via KY Derby Contenders Twitter feed.
Horses to Watch
The Favorite: Orb (1-1)
Barring some sort of vested interest—whether personal or financial—in another horse on Saturday, Orb comes off not only as the moneyline favorite, but will likely be the crowd's favorite as well.
In horse racing, it's okay to root for the front-runner. The dearth of Triple Crown winners has left the nation insatiably chasing the proverbial dragon, talking themselves into the Kentucky Derby winner every year. And I'll Have Another's heart-wrenching tease last year only accelerates the desire to see a horse come away with all three main events.
The odds, historically speaking, are stacked against him. Tabasco Cat in 1994 is the only Preakness winner to start from the inside post since 1961, per Daily Racing Form's David Grening:
David Grening @DRFGrening
Tabasco Cat (1994) only Preakness winner from the rail since 1961. #orb5/15/2013, 10:12:08 PM
However, Orb made a habit of excelling in the face of doubters. The three-year-old colt became the first Derby favorite to win since Big Brown in 2008, which should be cause for increased faith in Orb heading into this Saturday.
Make no mistake, legendary trainer Shug McGaughey has a ton of faith in his horse. The 62-year-old McGaughey got his first Kentucky Derby crown thanks to Orb earlier this month and will now try to complete his career Triple Crown behind the overwhelming favorite on Saturday. (McGaughey won the 1989 Belmont Stakes.)
I’m seeing a different horse than I saw two weeks ago before the Kentucky Derby. His work at Belmont was really something I hadn’t ever seen out of him before. The way he did it, the way he finished up by himself with very little urging, if any. I can’t wait to run him on Saturday afternoon, and maybe we’ll see something a little bit special.
If McGaughey is truly that impressed with his colt, the entire Pimlico field should be concerned. Joel Rosario's ride atop the three-year-old horse was riddled with mud and an awful terrain at Churchill Downs. While anything can change between now and Saturday, the weekend forecast in Baltimore says sunny skies are ahead, per Weather.com.
With a smallish field and nice weather, it's hard to bet on anyone except the favorite at this year's Preakness.
Strong Contender: Mylute (5-1)
With Orb getting the unlucky inside post draw, expect chatter about Mylute to hit an apex in the coming days. The three-year-old colt finished a strong fifth in the Kentucky Derby, but has seen an increase in attention in the lead up to the event in Baltimore.
At 5-1 odds, Mylute is considered the second-likeliest horse to take the Preakness—following only the favored Orb.
Much of that is understandable. Mylute is one of a select few Churchill Downs contenders heading to this weekend's festivities, and the No. 5 post is historically a pretty decent spot to be in.
Of course, much of the exterior attention has come thanks to jockey Rosie Napravnik. While it's often the trainers and owners who take center stage during the Triple Crown events, Napravnik has become quite the star in 2013. She already became the highest-finishing female jockey in the sport's most prestigious race in Kentucky, but has her sights set on the true prize.
Like Churchill Downs, a female has never won at the Preakness. However, Napravnik has plenty of experience running at Pimlico—which could be a major boon to Mylute's chances. Speaking with the Associated Press' David Ginsburg (h/t The Boston Globe), Napravnik said her comfort on the track should help Mylute on Saturday.
‘‘It’s always an advantage if you know a track well,’’ Napravnik said. ‘‘I won a lot of races at Pimlico and I like the track. I know the track like the back of my hand, and I appreciate that fact.’’
That's by no means a guarantee of future performance. However, with Mylute's strong performance at Churchill Downs and Napravnik's experience at Pimlico, this might be the time to make a small wager before the bandwagon gets too full.
The Dark Horse: Govenor Charlie (12-1)
Anytime Bob Baffert's name is linked with a horse, interest automatically springs up. But following Baffert's curious decision not to enter any horses at Churchill Downs, Govenor Charlie's entry into the field came as a bit of a surprise.
Pulled from the field due to a minor foot injury, Govenor Charlie has run three "solid" workouts since Churchill Downs, per the Associated Press.
What makes Govenor Charlie interesting is that we have no frame of reference. Baffert pulling his top horse in this year's crop from Churchill Downs makes him a major wild card at Pimlico, with folks wondering not only about the injury, but about Govenor Charlie's ability to handle top competition.
The colt skipped his entire two-year-old year, putting just three career races under his belt coming into Saturday. Though Govenor Charlie has won two of those events, the Sunland Derby was his most notable triumph. His career experience is akin to a Double-A baseball player being called up and thrown into the ALCS.
In most cases, that's cause for total dismissal. How could a horse with little to no top-tier experience possibly win one of horse racing's tentpoles? Baffert's decision to enter Govenor Charlie alone—especially after getting a good idea about the field—opens up that possibility wide.
The 60-year-old Baffert is arguably the most decorated horse racing trainer in the sport's history. He's dominated the American Classics, winning each of the Triple Crown races at least once. Pimlico, though, seems to be his perfect muse. Baffert has won five times in Baltimore, most recently with Lookin at Lucky in 2010.
With Bodemeister's second-place finish last season also lingering, it's safe to say that Baffert's presence alone makes Govenor Charlie a contender. And even with the odds of being in the No. 8 post stacked against him, Govenor Charlie could shock the world.