Preakness 2013 Post Positions: Horses Who Are in Best Position to Win After Draw

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2013

May 4, 2013; Louisville, KY, USA; Horse trainer Claude McGaughey (middle) hoists the Kentucky Derby trophy after his horse Orb won the 2013 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the running of the 138th Preakness Stakes, it’s fair to say Saturday’s race doesn’t hold a candle to the 2013 Kentucky Derby in terms of intrigue. 

There aren’t endless columns about pageantry and big hats. There aren’t countless folks telling you their sleepers when you’re just trying to get D-4 to work on the vending machine. There’s just...a race.

It’s an understandable phenomenon. 

With a 19-horse field in this year's race, the 2013 Kentucky Derby was largely seen as one of the more wide-open races in history. Bettors and casual fans alike came to the track hoping to see the start of something special, but knowing the race would be excellent. 

Saturday's Preakness is more inclusive. Only nine horses will be in action at Pimlico, as many Derby runners have dropped out following disappointing performances. 

And for most fans, this one is all about Orb, the winner of this year’s race at Churchill Downs. Without a victory from Orb, horse racing’s season will end with a mainstream whimper, the quest for a Triple Crown winner having vanquished again in a tormenting sea of disappointment. 

With the field set for Saturday’s race, though, we’re starting to get a good idea of Orb’s chances. The post draw remains one of the most underrated factors in horse racing, and Wednesday’s announcement could have massive implications on how things go down at Pimlico. 

With that in mind, here is a quick breakdown of where each horse will line up on Saturday along with a few notables worth watching. 








Joel Rosario

Shug McGaughey




Kevin Krigger

Doug O’Neill



Titletown Five 

Julien Leparoux 

D. Wayne Lukas 




Brian Hernandez Jr 

Albert M. Stall, Jr 




Rosie Napravnik 

Tom Amoss 




Gary Stevens 

D. Wayne Lukas 



Will Take Charge 

Mike Smith 

D. Wayne Lukas 



Govenor Charlie 

Martin Garcia 

Bob Baffert 




John Velazquez 

Eddie Plesa Jr. 


Via Bovada.

No. 1 Orb (10-11)

Based purely on his draw, Orb and his owners have to be disappointed. The Kentucky Derby winner drew the inside post, which has largely been a death knell throughout Preakness history. As noted by Daily Racing Form's David Grening, Tabasco Cat is the only winner from the rail since 1961:

A veteran in the horse training business, Orb's caretaker, Shug McGaughey, knows the history of the No. 1 draw. But while he wasn't exactly pleased to see numero uno being drawn, McGaughey said all hope isn't lost, per Alicia Wincze Hughes of the Lexington Herald-Leader

If I had come out the '1' in the Derby, you'd almost have felt like you needed to go home. But I don't feel that way here. It's not nearly (as bad) as it would be for the Derby. In the Derby ... you have to kind of shove your way out of there or you're going to get shut off and I don't think that will be the case here.

That quote falls in line with much of what McGaughey has been saying this week. The 62-year-old training legend is normally quite reserved before big races, but he's been exuding confidence about his horse all week. Rick Bozich of WDRB tweeted out that McGaughey thinks Orb is in even better form than he was prior to the Kentucky Derby:

If that's the case, a post position won't matter. Orb's run at Churchill Downs was so strong that a replication would lead to another triumph, regardless of how the race started. And as plenty of folks have noted, starting at the inside post isn't as bad as it seems—at least with this being a smaller field. 

Typically speaking, the major disadvantage of starting inside is spacing. Jockeys tend to steer their thoroughbreds inside early in the race, thus pinching off whomever is on the inside. That phenomenon isn't as prevalent in smaller fields. The racing is much more straight-lined and patient until all hell breaks loose down the stretch.

The relative lack of cramping on the track should allow Orb to stay in his lane, though Goldencents certainly won't make things easy. 

So while you have to be at least a bit concerned about Orb's chances following the draw, it's critical to have perspective. This is the best horse in the field by a pretty significant margin. Being better matters—even in the face of history. 

No. 4 Departing (13-2)

If you haven’t heard of Departing yet, well, don’t blame yourself. The three-year-old gelding is a “new shooter,” a nickname given to those horses that skip out on the Kentucky Derby and join the field at Pimlico.

Though that gives pundits little frame of reference for the horse, Departing’s hype has only gotten higher heading into Saturday’s race. Despite being absent for the biggest event on the calendar year, Departing is tied with Mylute as the second-favored horse in the field. 

It’s a bit of a shocking stance from bookmakers—until you look at Departing’s history. With four wins in five career races—the outlier being a third-place finish at the Louisiana Derby in March—Departing has the type of pedigree you would expect from a Triple Crown favorite. 

And he was so brilliant in the Illinois Derby that his trainer, Al Stall Jr., had little choice but to enter him into the Preakness field.

"A nice three-year-old will raise his hand and say, you know, `I want to get better and I'm going forward,' and he certainly gives us every indication that he's that type of horse," Stall said (per the Associated Press, h/t Sports Illustrated). 

It’s those factors that have led many to pick Departing as a near guarantee to finish in the money. Most have pegged Orb as a near lock to win, but Departing has become an in-vogue second-place choice. Jay Privman of Daily Racing Forum is one pundit drinking the Departing Kool-Aid: 

The saying always goes, if he’s good enough for second, then he’s probably good enough for first. Having a gelding win this race would be a little bit of a shock, but Departing seems in a good place to at least contend. 

No. 7 Will Take Charge (12-1)

Let’s just put it this way—there’s a reason Will Take Charge is one of this race’s biggest underdogs. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt ran to a disappointing eighth-place finish at Churchill Downs, folding into the back of the pack after being many pundits’ sleeper choice.

In retrospect, those pundits may have just been one race too early. Looking at history—specifically speaking about post positions—Will Take Charge looks like an increasingly interesting long-shot bet. 

The No. 7 spot has been remarkably reliable for top finishes. Since 1989, seven horses have won from the seventh post, thrice over the past decade. Big Brown, the last horse since Orb to truly feel like a Triple Crown threat, won there in 2008 and the post is a reliable money finisher. Bodemeister ran to a second-place triumph from No. 7 a year ago. 

It’s not a worthwhile venture expecting greatness from Will Take Charge. As we stated with Orb’s blurb, the posts mean different things when the fields are smaller. And while the Preakness is typically one of the smaller fields among top-flight races, having only nine runners spices things up a bit. 

Nevertheless, the Lukas factor always looms. The legendary trainer will be responsible for three of the nine horses in this event, but he seems to be particularly keen on Will Take Charge. Had Verrazano not gotten in Will Take Charge’s way during the Kentucky Derby, the Hall of Fame trainer said a top-three finish could have been in order. 

“I think they both had a chance to be a part of the equation if they got different scenarios,” Lukas said (via the Star Tribune’s Alicia Wincze Hughes). 

Things might go differently, they may not. But at 12-1 odds, Will Take Charge feels like as good of a bet as any to make a surprising run at spoiling Orb’s fun. 

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