(Reuters) - Kentucky Derby winner Justify drew the seventh post on Wednesday for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes in Baltimore where he will seek the second jewel of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Justify won the Derby as the favorite earlier this month and now all eyes will be on whether the Bob Baffert-trained chestnut colt can create some intrigue going into the June 9 Belmont Stakes, the final stop for the Crown.
Undefeated through four starts, Justify was rated an odds-on 1-2 morning line favorite after the draw for the eight-horse field in the 1 3/16-mile race at Pimlico.
“It went really smooth. No hiccups,” Baffert, speaking after the draw, said about Justify’s delayed arrival at Pimlico on Wednesday. “We were a little bit worried last night because the plane was delayed ... but the horse shipped well and was full of himself when he got off the van.”
Baffert is seeking a record-tying seventh Preakness victory, having previously won with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015), Lookin At Lucky (2010), War Emblem (2002), Point Given (2001), Real Quiet (1998), and Silver Charm (1997).
Justify will be flanked by Tenfold (20-1) on his left and Bravazo (20-1), who finished sixth at the Derby, on his right.
Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic drew the fifth post position for his rematch with Justify and was rated the second pick for the Preakness at 3-1.
Diamond King, who will start one spot inside of Good Magic, and Sporting Chance, who will break from the third post, each had the longest odds at 30-1.
Quip (12-1) drew the first post while Lone Sailor (15-1), who finished eighth at Churchill Downs, will go from the second post.
This will be the fourth consecutive year that the top two finishers in the Kentucky Derby have a rematch in the Preakness. In each of the last two years, the Derby runner-up finished ahead of the Derby winner in the Preakness.
The Preakness will be held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, where Justify won by two and a half lengths in driving rain to become the first horse in 136 years to win the first leg of the Triple Crown after not racing as a 2-year-old.
A repeat of the sloppy track that greeted the 20 horses at the Kentucky Derby seems likely on Saturday with showers and thunderstorms expected in Baltimore this weekend.
The importance of post position is slightly lesser for the Preakness, the shortest of the three Triple Crown events, given it is typically a much smaller field compared to the Kentucky Derby.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar