BALTIMORE — The Kentucky Derby winner and the reigning 2-year-old champion are now guaranteed to have to look each other in the eye Saturday.
Super Saver and Lookin At Lucky will start side by side in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course after drawing post positions Nos. 8 and 7, respectively, Wednesday.
Unlike the 20-horse cluster of the Kentucky Derby, where a spot on the rail or the extreme outside can severely hinder a contender, post position is generally not as important in the more compact Preakness field.
With his ability to rate or prompt the pace if need be, drawing the eight hole for the 13⁄16-mile race was greeted with little more than a shrug from Super Saver's connections. The Derby winner is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
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"I don't really think (post position) matters in a 12-horse field," said Elliott Walden, vice president and racing manager of WinStar Farm, which owns Super Saver. "You know we probably wouldn't have wanted to be in the 11 or 12 hole, but other than that, I don't think it really matters."
The Preakness field was reduced by one earlier in the day when Derby Trial winner Hurricane Ike was declared out of the race by trainer John Sadler after an unspecified injury to his left hind leg was discovered Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
The absence of Hurricane Ike also means there is less potential speed in the race — something that could lead to Super Saver setting the early pace.
"The nice thing about him is, he is tactical," Walden said. "I think (jockey) Calvin Borel can place him wherever he feels like he wants to."
One person breathing a sigh of relief during the draw was Bob Baffert, trainer of Lookin At Lucky. After his horse's sixth-place finish as the Kentucky Derby favorite following a troubled trip out of the inside post, Baffert was relieved to see Lookin At Lucky catch a break.
"I wanted the 7, 8, or 9," Baffert said. "You still have to get away well. I'm just glad the horse finally drew a decent post position, but now he's going to have to run hard. I think the way he's been training, I don't see why he wouldn't."