When Kentucky Derby winner Orb drew the 1-hole Wednesday for the Preakness on Saturday, trainer Shug McGaughey reacted predictably and rationally.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a hindrance,’’ McGaughey said “If you come out of the 1 in the Derby, I almost feel you need to go home. I wasn’t worried about it this time like I was two weeks ago.’’
Assistant trainer/exercise rider Jennifer Patterson said: “Is it ideal? No. Can we deal with it? Yes.’’
Here’s the complete draw, with line-maker Frank Carulli’s morning line: Orb (even). 2. Goldencents (8-1). 3. Titletown Five (30-1). 4. Departing (6-1). 5. Mylute (5-1). 6. Oxbow (15-1). 7. Will Take Charge (12-1). 8. Govenor Charlie (12-1). 9. Itsmyluckyday (10-1).
The supposed issue with the No. 1 post is that there is a greater potential for a horse breaking from there to encounter traffic trouble. If any horse breaks in, the inside horse might be jammed.
At first glance, the 1-hole in recent Preakness history hasn’t been favorable. The last horse to win from the post was Tabasco Cat in 1994. He was the first winner from No. 1 since Bally Ache in 1960.
Of course, post-position records are a function of the horses breaking from the positions. Since 1994, only three horses breaking from No. 1 had single-digit odds, Tabasco Cat (3.60-1) being one of those. The other others were Lion Heart (4.90-1), who was fourth in Smarty Jones’ Preakness romp in 2004, and Cherokee’s Boy (9.70-1), who was eighth in Funny Cide’s romp in 2003. No one would say that Lion Heart and Cherokee Boy lost because of the post.
In 2008, Macho Again went off at almost 40-1 from the 1-hole and finished second when Big Brown ran away with the race.
The last three Nos. 1 were Tiger Walk (23-1), Astrology (15-1) and Aikenite (30-1)? Did the 1-hole beat them?
Orb won from the 1-hole at a mile and sixteenth with a short stretch at Gulfstream Park in the Fountain of Youth this year. That race, like this Preakness, happened to have nine horses.
So, Orb supporters, don’t lose sleep tonight. If he’s truly a standout, he’ll have the opportunity to prove it in the mile and three sixteenths of the Preakness. And with two speed horses breaking to his immediate outside, he should be able to secure a comfortable inside position and save ground in the early running.
There isn’t a starting position that requires the horse to line up with his head in the back of the stall and his tail in the front. Now that would be a disadvantage.
The gate will open, and the best horse will win – like in most races run every day.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the draw was that Carulli made Mylute the second choice in the line at 5-1. His reason: Jockey Rosie Napravnik makes an impact on the betting.
“I went back and forth 100 times,’’ Carulli said. “My instincts said Rosie is going to get bet.’’