LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bodemeister has been made the early 4-1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby, with Union Rags the second choice in a full field of 20 horses.
Trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, Bodemeister drew the No. 6 post Wednesday. Six horses have won from that position, the last being Sea Hero in 1993.
Bodemeister is the stronger of Baffert's two horses, having won the Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths in the most dominating performance among the Derby prep races. His other, Liaison, landed in the No. 20 spot for Saturday's race.
It's the third time the Hall of Fame trainer has had the early Derby favorite. The first two times didn't work out.
Lookin At Lucky drew the dreaded inside post in 2010 and finished sixth. In 2001, Point Given was the heavy favorite and wound up fifth. He went on to win the Preakness and Belmont stakes, the final two legs of the Triple Crown.
Union Rags drew the No. 4 post and was listed at 9-2 on the morning line set by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. He is trained by Michael Matz, who won the Derby in 2006 with Barbaro only to have the colt stunningly break down after the start of the Preakness.
Gemologist was the third choice at 6-1 and drew the No. 15 post. The undefeated colt is one of two trained by Todd Pletcher, who won his first Derby in 2010 with Super Saver. The other, El Padrino, will be in the next stall toward the outside as one of two 20-1 shots.
Blue Grass winner Dullahan was the 8-1 fourth choice. He got the No. 5 post, drawing the loudest cheers from his connections.
The No. 1 and No. 14 posts remained open until there were just two spots left in the starting gate, leaving the connections of speedy Hansen and Daddy Long Legs in suspense. UAE Derby winner Daddy Long Legs got the inside stall, while 10-1 shot Hansen dodged a bullet and landed the No. 14 slot.
Hansen and Daddy Long Legs have the most graded stakes earnings in the field. Hansen leads the list with more than $1.5 million, while Daddy Long Legs has $1.2 million.
Optimizer is the record 45th Derby starter for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time winner of the race. The colt will break from the No. 2 post and is one of five 50-1 shots. He got into the field when Mark Valeski was withdrawn from consideration Tuesday.
The 21st horse on the earnings list is My Adonis, an also eligible who would need a defection before 9 a.m. EDT Friday, when Derby wagering opens, to get into the 1 1/4-mile race.
If all 20 horses start, the $2,219,600 purse would be the richest since 2005, when the Derby first became a guaranteed $2 million event. The winner earns $1,459,600. Post time is 6:24 p.m. EDT.
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