Favorites derailed by draw Two in, two out, two fail grades
By BETH HARRIS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — So much for being Kentucky Derby favorites: One is stuck on the rail and the other ended up on the far outside of a 20-horse field.
Lookin At Lucky is looking like anything but.
"I heard about a redraw," joked Bob Baffert, who trains the 3-year-old colt, listed at 3-1 odds during yesterday's post-position draw. "Is he still the favorite? We got that going for us. We just have to hope our horse runs huge."
He'll need to. All the traffic charging into the first turn tends to jam the inside unless a horse has early speed to get away quickly.
"There's no use in crying about it," co-owner Mike Pegram said. "It's better to have a good trip than a good post position."
Sidney's Candy, the 5-1 second choice for Saturday's 1[0xbc]-mile race, didn't fare any better at the opposite end of the starting gate — No. 20 — and will be taking the widest trip around Churchill Downs.
Still, jockey Joe Talamo wasn't deterred.
"Glad to be on the outside!!" he tweeted from California.
By compromising the two favorites, the Derby becomes a wide-open race a year after 50-1 shot Mine That Bird pulled off a last-to-first stunner under a rail-hugging ride by Calvin Borel.
Last year's 2-year-old champion, Lookin At Lucky got banged up while winning his season debut in the Rebel Stakes, but rallied to finish third in the Santa Anita Derby after being squeezed along the rail and losing all momentum.
"I just don't remember a horse of this caliber being in the one hole since I've come here," said Baffert, a three-time Derby winner. "I'd rather be outside, less things going on. You can get caught down there and hit the brakes."
Twelve Derby winners have come from the No. 1 spot — Ferdinand was the last in 1986. He got pinched along the inside in the calvary charge to the first turn and dropped to last in the 16-horse field before rallying to win by 2[0xbc] lengths under Hall of Famer Bill Shoemaker.
"About a third of the field is lost in the first turn, that's why post position is so important," Baffert said before the draw.
The No. 1 post is probably a better fit for the front-running style of Sidney's Candy than Lookin At Lucky, who comes from off the pace under Garrett Gomez.
Owned by weight loss maven Jenny Craig, Sidney's Candy swept the California preps on synthetic surfaces but has never raced on dirt before.
Talamo may be forced to expend a lot of the colt's early speed to get good position in a field featuring several horses with the same intentions. Only two winners have come from No. 20, the last Big Brown in 2008.
"Not the best of draws. At least you're on the outside and can see what's going on," trainer John Sadler said.
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia made three horses the 10-1 third choice.
Devil May Care will break from the No. 11 post in trying to become the fourth filly to win the Derby. The last one, Eight Belles, finished second two years ago, but broke down after crossing the finish line and had to be euthanized.
The other co-third choices are Florida Derby winner Ice Box, trained by two-time Derby winner Nick Zito, and Gotham winner Awesome Act.
Devil May Care is one of four horses in the field trained by Todd Pletcher, who is 0 for 24 in the Derby. His best horse, Eskendereya, was forced out with a leg injury last weekend.
The filly has the lowest odds of Pletcher's four horses: Super Saver is 15-1 with Borel riding, Mission Impazible is 20-1, and Discreetly Mine is 30-1.
"I came out pretty good in all cases," Pletcher said. "The only negative is the 11 because she'll be in the gate for a long time."
In a 20-horse field, the first 14 horses are loaded in the main starting gate, while the other six go in an auxiliary gate parked next to it, with a space of about 9 feet in between.
Four horses are listed at 50-1: Dean's Kitten, Make Music for Me, Backtalk (a son of 2004 Derby winner Smarty Jones) and Homeboykris, co-owned by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre.