Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Sports

Orb draws rail post for Preakness

BALTIMORE — The Preakness draw was over, and trainer Shug McGaughey listed a variety of reasons why he was okay with having Kentucky Derby winner Orb starting Saturday's race from the rail.

Then someone asked him, "If you had your choice, where would you want to be?"

McGaughey quickly responded, "The outside."

Getting the inside post in Wednesday's draw, Orb was made an even-money favorite to keep alive his bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Orb was listed as even money on the morning betting line.

"I saw it bounced around in the papers that we would be 4-5," McGaughey said. "I am a little surprised that with him being even money, with the next shot was 5-1. That's a pretty good spread. Like I always say, I wish every horse I run would be the favorite."

The brown colt is looking for his sixth straight victory as part of the smallest Preakness field since 2007. Govenor Charlie, trained by Bob Baffert, added his name for the 1 3/16th-mile race and is expected to arrive from Churchill Downs today.

McGaughey said the inside draw is a lot better than getting the No. 1 post at Churchill Downs for the Derby.

"It's not nearly the problem it would be in the Derby," he said. "The Derby is kind of catty-cornered. You got to shove your way out of there or you get shut off down in there. It's pretty straightforward here. There are only nine horses. There's not going to be that kind of jockeying into the first turn. We'll just hold our position and see how the race plays out."

The last horse to win the Preakness from the inside post was Tabasco Cat in 1994. That was the lone winner from the rail in the last 52 runnings of the race. Starting from the rail is a disadvantage because, if a horse does not get out in front from that spot, it can easily get pushed to the back.

"He'll get a clean break, and he'll be able to sit where he wants to sit," McGaughey said. "If he's good enough, he'll be able to make that run, and hopefully he gets there."

Mylute, the second favorite at 5-1, hopes to take advantage of working out the No. 5 post.

"The draw was great. We're in the middle, and we've got Orb and Departing inside of us, which is great because we can watch and see what happens," said Todd Quast, general manager of GoldMark Farm, co-owner of Mylute. "Our horse ran the same race Orb did in the Derby but was three to fourth lengths behind him. So this time, maybe if we can stay a little closer to him at the beginning, we can maybe turn the tables on him. No disrespect to him, he's a fantastic horse, but I think our horse is pretty good, too.

"We need to make up three or four lengths, and that (Orb on the rail) may be one of the factors that helps us."

Orb won the Derby by 2½ lengths, so he remains the horse to beat.

"I don't know that the rail's all that bad," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has Oxbow (No. 6), Will Take Charge (No. 7) and Titletown Five (No. 3) in the race. "Orb is still the one to beat."

Lukas was delighted with his three post positions.

"Oxbow, for a change, got inside a little bit. He'll be forwardly placed. We shouldn't have any trouble. I'm going to have to come up with a different excuse when we get beat," he said.

Orb had his first tour of the Pimlico racing surface Wednesday, going for an easy jog.

"He went really good," McGaughey said. "He seemed to be moving really well, full of energy. I'm really pleased with what I see."

Changes for lukas: Mike Smith replaces Jon Court aboard Will Take Charge after an eighth-place finish in the Derby. Julien Leparoux lands on Titletown Five, replacing Gary Stevens who retains the ride on Oxbow, sixth in the Derby.

"I thought if we could get three world-class Eclipse Award riders, I'd be remiss if I didn't give my clients that opportunity," Lukas said.

Lukas believes Will Take Charge could have finished second in the Derby, with a cleaner trip. The colt was moving in tandem with Orb before hitting a traffic jam.

"Nothing against Jon Court," Lukas said. "I rode him all spring and had good luck with him. I always tell the riders we're only going to date; we're not going to get married. Jon understood. He took it very well."

Lukas hopes Leparoux can get the speedy Titletown Five to relax early and conserve energy.

"I think his style will fit that horse and maybe take a little off his fastball," Lukas said.

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