(Reuters) - American Pharoah’s chances of extending his Triple Crown run were dealt a mild blow on Wednesday as the Kentucky Derby winner drew the unfavorable number one post position for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
Despite the unfavorable start position, American Pharoah was installed as a 4-5 early favorite for the second leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
The second choice for the $1.5 million race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore was American Pharoah stablemate Dortmund, rated a 7-2 pick after the third-place Kentucky Derby finisher drew the number two post alongside the favorite.
Both horses in the eight-horse field that will run 1-3/16 miles at Pimlico are trained by Bob Baffert.
“I can’t believe I drew the 1-2 of all draws,” Baffert said.
“I‘m just glad I didn’t draw that for the Derby.”
Firing Line, who finished a length behind American Pharoah at Churchill Downs and two lengths in front of Dortmund, was rated third in the morning line at 4-1 and drew the outside number eight post for the 140th Preakness.
“We’ve got options from out there. It’s perfect,” said Firing Line trainer Simon Callaghan. “I guess (the rail post position) makes it a little tougher for (American Pharoah), but we’re certainly happy with our post position.”
The top three Kentucky Derby finishers arrived at Pimlico on Wednesday following a flight from Louisville that also included Preakness entrants Danzig Moon (15-1) and Tale of Verve (30-1).
Also entered in the Preakness field were Lexington Stakes winner Divining Rod (12-1), Calumet Stable’s newly acquired Mr. Z (20-1) and Bodhisattva (20-1).
The final race of the series for 3 year olds will be the 1-1/2 mile Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York, on June 6.
Baffert did not hide his dislike of the inside post position but said it will prove a good test for his horse.
”It’s a short field, eight horses. He still has to break well. If he’s the best horse, we’ll find out,” the trainer added about the only horse in the field left with a chance to pursue a Triple Crown sweep last achieved by Affirmed in 1978.
“I don’t like the inside. I never like the one-hole. Sometimes they don’t break as well.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue