The Kentucky Derby post-position draw was a major event that generated a ton of buzz. The same can't be said for the Preakness Stakes draw, but it could ultimately be just as important in determining the winner.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness is the number of horses involved. There were 19 horses in the Derby, but only nine will start in The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans. That means there will be much more space for the horses to operate at Pimlico Race Course, but it doesn't render the starting positions irrelevant.
Here are three horses that drew solid post positions and will use them to their advantage during Saturday's second leg of the Triple Crown.
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||10-11|
|2||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||8-1|
|3||Titletown Five||Julien Leparoux ||D. Wayne Lukas||28-1|
|4||Departing||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Albert M. Stall Jr.||13-2|
|5||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||13-2|
|6||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||16-1|
|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. ||10-1|
*Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The No. 1 starting position is generally considered to be a terrible spot to be in. That isn't necessarily always the case, however. The quality of the horse is the most important thing, and if a horse is good enough, then the No. 1 slot can become favorable. That figures to be the case on Saturday as Kentucky Derby winner Orb will start near the rail.
If there were more horses in the Preakness it might be a troubling spot, but Orb should be perfectly fine. In fact, starting near the rail could be a great thing as it will almost force him to hang back. Orb won the Kentucky Derby thanks to a late kick, so it is clear that he is at his best when coming from behind. His trainer, Shug McGaughey, isn't concerned in the least, according to Claire Novak of Blood-Horse.
It doesn't seem like the oddsmakers or the bettors were scared off by Orb starting first, and there is really no reason to be scared off anyway. Orb is such a strong horse that he has the ability to win from anywhere on the track. As long as jockey Joel Rosario handles him the same way he did in the Kentucky Derby, Orb will be fine. When push comes to shove, the No. 1 position will prove to be a great one for Orb.
Will Take Charge
I have made my affinity known for Will Take Charge as a long-shot in the Preakness Stakes, and his starting position only furthers that feeling. Will Take Charge will start seventh in the nine-horse field, so he should be able to do whatever jockey Mike Smith deems fit. Will Take Charge looked very strong late in the Kentucky Derby and he might have been a contender had he not run into traffic. He ultimately finished eighth and enters the Preakness as a threat.
Much like Orb, Will Take Charge appeared to get better as the Kentucky Derby wore on. That doesn't mean the same thing is guaranteed to happen in the Preakness, but Will Take Charge appears to be more similar to Orb than any other horse. Also, Will Take Charge has history on his side. According to Tim Wilkin of the Albany Times Union, the No. 7 position has been the most successful starting spot in the Preakness since 1990.
A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that great horses have drawn No. 7, but it shouldn't be discounted. No. 7 is ideal as it is outside, but it is still close to the middle and isn't extreme in either direction. It is much easier to react and adjust from the seventh spot than it is from the very outside or the very inside. Regardless of what happens in this race, Will Take Charge should be able to avoid another bad trip.
While Orb is the odds-on favorite to win the Preakness, Departing and Mylute are next in line at 13-2. Mylute is an especially interesting horse as he performed very well in the Kentucky Derby with a fifth-place finish. He is also quite experienced with 10 races to his credit. All of those things make Mylute a contender to win the Preakness, but the fact that he is starting No. 5 may be the biggest thing working in his favor.
Mylute will essentially start right in the middle and should have plenty of avenues, just like Will Take Charge at No. 7. Mylute hung off the pace for much of the Kentucky Derby before making a late push and coming up just short of the ultimate goal. He should be able to do the same thing in the Preakness. One person who is especially happy about Mylute's post position is jockey Rosie Napravnik, who is looking to become the first woman to win the Preakness Stakes.
Napravnik probably couldn't have asked for a better starting position than No. 5. She doesn't have to worry about getting forced into anything and can ensure that Mylute runs at her desired pace. Whether or not Mylute has enough to overtake Orb is anyone's guess, but at least he won't be hindered by a poor starting gate. If Napravnik navigates a perfect race, Mylute definitely has a shot.
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