BALTIMORE | This is exactly what the connections for Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another wanted for the Preakness Stakes. In the No. 9 post, they’re outside of No. 7 Bodemeister.
“Anything with a nine in it, we feel very good about. We’re cool with it,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, whose horse won the Derby out of the No. 19 spot. “We talked about the possibility of being inside Bodemeister and really forcing our hand to push him early, and now it’s in [jockey Mario Gutierrez’s] hands to still kind of push Bode, but we’ll be on the outside of him.”
O’Neill talked earlier in the day about the pace, which is expected to be set by morning line favorite Bodemeister (8-5 odds). But he opened up more about strategy after the draw.
“As long as we continue to train like our horse is training, we won’t be that far off Bodemeister. If anything Bodemeister might be behind us early,” O’Neill said. “I can see him chasing us, I really could.”
I’ll Have Another is the second betting choice at 5-2, with No. 5 Went the Day Well and No. 6 Creative Cause both at 6-1.
“I like the draw. The middle’s good,” said Barry Irwin, whose Team Valor owns Went the Day Well. “I didn’t want to be on the outside because the horse is green and I think he has a tendency to veer off to the right. Being on the rail, being a horse that doesn’t have that much experience, I think it would’ve been a little too claustrophobic for him down there.”
I’ll Have Another might be in the perfect spot, but Bodemeister isn’t trapped either.
“With him, anything in the middle would be fine,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who has five Preakness victories on his resume. “With the Preakness, you just don’t want to be stuck on the inside where you have to use your horse a little bit.”
The full field and odds after Wednesday’s draw at Pimlico:
Teeth of the Dog
Went the Day Well
Daddy Nose Best
I’ll Have Another
D. Wayne Lukas