Anticipation is sky high for the second leg of the Triple Crown, and the post positions for the Preakness Stakes have set up what is sure to be a thrilling race on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Only nine horses are entered for this race, which is less than half the size of the field at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. Here's a quick look at the draw, courtesy of the Preakness Stakes on Twitter:
Preakness Stakes @PreaknessStakes
@PreaknessStakes the 138th draw http://t.co/dL6WHfi2152013-5-15 22:18:33
Orb is the heavy betting favorite after winning the Derby in convincing fashion, and many of the other horses that ran at Churchill Downs opted not to race at Pimlico.
Winning the Preakness this weekend would set Orb up for a chance at the elusive Triple Crown, which hasn't been accomplished since 1978 when Affirmed pulled it off.
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Md.
When: Saturday, May 18, at 6:20 p.m. ET
Post Time: 6:20 p.m. ET
Purse: $1 million
Television: NBC Sports Network
2013 Preakness Stakes Layout
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario||Claude 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.||5-1|
|5||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||8-1|
|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||10-1|
|9||Itsmyluckyday||John Velazquez||Eddie Plesa Jr. ||12-1|
* Current odds can be found at horseracingnation.com.
Now, it's time to take a look at how the draw might affect the top horses on Saturday.
Orb: Post No. 1 (1-1 Odds)
It's been a long time since any horse won the Preakness from the No. 1 post. According to David Grening of DRF, the last time any horse won from this spot was in 1994, and the time before came way back in 1961:
David Grening @DRFGrening
Tabasco Cat (1994) only Preakness winner from the rail since 1961. #orb2013-5-15 22:12:08
Orb's brilliant come-from-behind victory in the mud at Churchill Downs was proof of this horse's abilities, but there are a couple of factors beyond a poor starting position that could put an end to any hopes of a Triple Crown.
Not only will Orb have to overcome a start on the rail, but the small field could pose a problem. At the Derby, Orb was able to let the sprinters tire out and put on a massive late charge to win the race. Less competition means less jostling, which will benefit pure sprinters.
Furthermore, the track at Pimlico won't be a muddy mess and Orb will need to stay near the front of the pack to pull off another win.
Departing: Post No. 4 (5-1 Odds)
Of the top horses in this race, Departing is the only one that didn't also race at the Derby—also known as a "new shooter." Fresh legs will be a major factor in this upcoming contest, and the fact that Departing also landed a favorable position could spell doom for Orb.
Horse racing handicapper J.J. Hysell seems to think Departing has a chance to challenge Orb this weekend:
J.J. Hysell @trifectabox
Departing today via @PreaknessStakes. Very intriguing challenger #Preakness http://t.co/WegpP8zPj52013-5-16 15:56:42
Starting out near the middle of the pack means Departing will likely get off to a nice start and won't have to battle too much to maintain position afterward.
A winner of four of five career starts, Departing recently won a thrilling race at the Illinois Derby by showing off some incredible late speed and coming from ninth place to win by 3 1/4 lengths.
Nobody should be surprised if Departing ends up winning the Preakness on Saturday.
Goldencents: Post No. 2 (8-1 Odds)
Starting out in the No. 2 post next to Orb, Goldencents will be a fascinating horse to watch on Saturday.
One of the heavy favorites to win at the Derby, this horse finished in 17th place. Such a disappointment might have some bettors thinking Goldencents doesn't have a chance to win this race, but that's not the case.
The only thing Goldencents' poor finish at the Derby proved is that this horse isn't a mudder. If he can get back to the form that won the Santa Anita Derby earlier this year, Goldencents can easily win the Preakness.
If Orb and jockey Joel Rosario don't try and break out to an early lead, Goldencents—an excellent sprinter—will benefit. The other top sprinter in this race—Govenor Charlie—is starting out on the opposite side of the track.
This means that jockey Kevin Krigger has a chance to keep Goldencents from trying to keep up with Govenor Charlie's probable early charge to the front. Holding Goldencents back will give the duo a better chance of making a late push for the win.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78