The second jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown always features one horse that is two wins away from one of the greatest achievements in sports. In Saturday's 135th Preakness Stakes, jockey Calvin Borel will attempt to guide Super Saver to a repeat of his romp in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.
Super Saver was the first horse drawn, finding a cozy spot in post eight, and was installed as the morning line favorite at 5-to-2.
"I don't think post position is all that important in a 12-horse field with a good run to the first turn," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddles both Super Saver and Aikenite, who drew the inside post. "Eight for Super Saver is very good. He'll get an opportunity to survey what's going on around him before he commits to anything."
Lookin at Lucky, the Kentucky Derby favorite, drew directly inside Super Saver and is listed as the 3-to-1 second choice.
"We're hoping something had to change. He's been drawing so poorly," said Lookin at Lucky's trainer Bob Baffert. "There's not really a super bad post here at Pimlico. I'm glad to be in the seven. At least I'm in the middle there and I've always liked the seven hole all my life."
Since Affirmed was the last winner of the Triple Crown in 1978, there have been 17 horses that captured two of the three legs. Eleven horses followed their Derby victory with a win at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore before falling short in the Belmont Stakes.
Five horses have won both the Preakness and Belmont after not crossing the wire first in Louisville. In 1984, Swale won both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, only to see Gate Dancer win the Preakness.
Although the Preakness is run just two weeks after the Derby, which is a much quicker turn around than what today's trainers prefer for their elite horses, seven of the last 13 Derby winners have gone on to win the Preakness. Three others have finished second, and Giacomo was third in 2005. Aside from Barbaro's break down in 2006, Monarchos (sixth in 2005) is the only recent Derby winner to finish out of the money in the Preakness.
Below is the complete field for Saturday's race, including post position, morning line and a brief comment. Make sure to check back throughout the week for more coverage.
PP Horse (Morning Line Odds) Comment
1. Aikenite (20-1) Would Pletcher really run a legit contender against Super Saver? No.
2. Schoolyard Dreams (15-1) Finished ahead of Super Saver by a whisker in TB Derby.
3. Pleasant Prince (20-1) Run into ground by connections wanting Triple Crown race.
4. Northern Giant (30-1) Could be close to the lead early, won't be anywhere near it late.
5. Yawanna Twist (30-1) Top two finishes in all four lifetime starts. Morning line too high.
6. Jackson Bend (12-1) Affinity for finishing in top two is a product of weaker competition.
7. Lookin at Lucky (3-1) Will the switch to Martin Garcia reverse his fortunes?
8. Super Saver (5-2) Unlikely to get perfect set-up/trip again, but may not need them.
9. Caracortado (10-1) First plane flight for CA invader; could be live long shot.
10. Paddy O’Prado (9-2) Desormeaux likely to try and get first run ahead of Super Saver.
11. First Dude (20-1-) His credentials leave a lot to be desired.
12. Dublin (10-1) Finished behind Super Saver by a whisker in the Arkansas Derby.
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @mdoche!