BALTIMORE - Super Saver, the Kentucky Derby winner, drew post 8 when a field of 12 was entered on Wednesday for the 135th Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, which will be run Saturday here at Pimlico Race Course.
Lookin At Lucky, the beaten favorite in the Derby, landed just inside Super Saver, in post 7.
Super Saver was 8-1 in the Derby, but will be a decidedly shorter price in the Preakness. Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper, has Super Saver as the 9-5 favorite on his morning line, with Lookin At Lucky second at 7-2, and Paddy O'Prado the third choice at 8-1.
Frank Carulli, the linemaker at Pimlico, has Super Saver favored at 5-2, with Lookin At Lucky close behind at 3-1, and Paddy O'Prado 9-2. Paddy O'Prado landed post10.
The Preakness purse is $1 million, with $600,000 going to the winner. The race will be seen live on NBC, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. The Preakness is the 12th race on a 13-race card that begins at 10:45 a.m.
Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Super Saver, thought post 8 was ideal, giving Super Saver's jockey, Calvin Borel, the opportunity to assess the situation inside him before committing.
"I don't think post position is all that important with a 12-horse field and a long run to the first turn," Pletcher said.
Lookin At Lucky was compromised by his rail draw in the Derby. His trainer, Bob Baffert, was relieved to get something toward the middle of the field.
"Something had to change," Baffert said. "He had been drawing so poorly."
Lookin At Lucky got the outside post in a field of 13 last fall in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
The field was reduced to 12 on Wednesday morning when Hurricane Ike, the Derby Trial winner, was withdrawn because of lameness in his left hind leg, according to trainer John Sadler. Hurricane Ike is in Kentucky. He had been scheduled to fly to Maryland on Wednesday afternoon.
"He came up off behind this morning," Sadler said Wednesday from California, "and Dr. [Ken] Reed called me early this morning to give me the details. It's horribly disappointing to all of us."
Sadler, who has never started a horse in the Preakness, said Hurricane Ike "did this once before at Oak Tree, so we're hoping it's not a big deal."
"We'll bring him out here and put him through some diagnostic testing to see what's wrong," Sadler said. "In the meantime, it's black-and-white that he can't run Saturday, so it's a big letdown for all of us."
There were 13 horses in last year's Preakness, which was won by Rachel Alexandra in her first start against males. There were 12 runners in the 2008 Preakness, which was won by Big Brown.
Super Saver arrived at Pimlico shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon following a charter flight. The flight left California early Wednesday morning with Caracortado, and stopped in Kentucky to pick up Super Saver and Preakness rivals Aikenite, First Dude, Jackson Bend, Lookin At Lucky, Paddy O'Prado, Pleasant Prince, and Yawanna Twist.
Pletcher led Super Saver off the horse van, one of four vans that arrived via police escort from Baltimore-Washington International Airport. After getting Super Saver settled in the stakes barn, Pletcher posed for photos with the four motorcycle policemen from Baltimore who escorted Super Saver and his entourage from the airport.
Schoolyard Dreams will be the last to arrive. He is training at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and will be sent here by van early Saturday morning.
Super Saver had a light gallop at Churchill Downs early Wednesday morning before heading to the airport.
Borel, Super Saver's jockey, earned his third Derby victory in the last four years when winning with Super Saver. He also has won three of the last four Triple Crown races, including last year's Preakness aboard Rachel Alexandra.
Lookin At Lucky will be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia, replacing Garrett Gomez, who rode Lookin At Lucky in all nine of his previous starts. Garcia has become a go-to rider for Baffert. They combined to win the Santa Anita Handicap two months ago with Misremembered, who was bred and is owned in partnership by Baffert. Lookin At Lucky is co-owned by Mike Pegram, whose brother, Jim, is the agent for Garcia.
"He just has that raw talent and he rides in California and he fits in there," Baffert said. "I think the jockey colony is very strong in California, and he seems to be fitting in well. I think he's got a huge future in this business. I've been using him. He works a lot of my horses. He's worked Lookin At Lucky a lot."
Baffert acknowledged that Garcia, 25, who made his Triple Crown debut in the Derby aboard the speedy Conveyance, is "still young."
"He's not a completely polished rider like a Gomez or [John] Velazquez, but he's getting there," Baffert said. "He's got a ways to go. He's a raw talent and he's riding with a lot of confidence right now. When he rides for me, he rides with a lot of confidence. I've been clicking with him really well lately. Everywhere I send him, he wins. He's not intimidated. He rode in the Derby and he was a little bit nervous, but he did as good as he could under the circumstances."
Gomez has moved to Dublin, who finished seventh in the Derby.
Dublin and Northern Giant, both trained by D. Wayne Lukas, were the first Preakness horses to arrive on the grounds. They showed up Tuesday evening following an all-day van ride from Louisville. Both went to the main track early Wednesday morning at Pimlico for a routine training session.
Getting here was hardly routine, though. One of the vans carrying the Lukas horses broke down in Pennsylvania. Lukas said they pulled into a parking lot and rearranged the cargo before proceeding.
Lukas used to put his horses on the airline flights with everyone else going from Kentucky to Maryland during Preakness Week, but has decided to van the past two years, in large part because he can transport all the horses and people he needs at his convenience.
- additional reporting by Marty McGee