- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

BALTIMORE — Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro is the even-money favorite to win the second leg of the Triple Crown, Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

During last night’s post position draw, trainer Michael Matz chose the No. 6 starting gate for Barbaro, who won the Derby by 61/2 lengths on May 6.

A field of nine will go to post at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.

The only other two Preakness horses who also ran in the Derby are Brother Derek (3-1) and Sweetnorthernsaint (4-1).

From the rail out, the field is: Like Now (30-1), Platinum Couple (50-1), Hemingway’s Key (30-1), Greeley’s Legacy (20-1), Brother Derek, Barbaro, Sweetnorthernsaint, Bernardini (8-1) and Diabolical (30-1).

Since 1979, only two even-money favorites have won the Preakness — Smarty Jones in 2004 and Spectacular Bid 27 years ago.

Matz said he chose the sixth position instead of No. 5 so Barbaro could spend less time in the starting gate.

Sweetnorthernsaint, the Laurel Park-based colt who finished seventh as the favorite in the Derby, had started his previous three races in outside posts (Nos. 10, 10 and 11).

“I’m OK with this,” said trainer Michael Trombetta, who had the seventh selection. “We all believe the best horse won the Derby, but I think horses like mine and Brother Derek didn’t get the best opportunity because of the trips they got.”

Ah Day Barton-bound

Trainer King Leatherbury entered Ah Day in the Sir Barton Stakes instead of the Preakness.

“We’re going to go in the easier spot,” he said yesterday morning.

Ah Day’s connections would have needed to pay $100,000 to enter the Preakness because he was not nominated for the Triple Crown races.

“Basically, the money fell through,” Leatherbury said. “[Ownership group Malibu Moon] said they weren’t going to do it. That decision was made for me because I certainly wasn’t going to put up $100,000.”

Saint staying at Laurel

Trombetta said Sweetnorthernsaint won’t be on the Pimlico track until the morning of the race, when he is transported from Laurel Park.

“That’s the plan right now because he’s only 20 miles away and Laurel’s home for him,” Trombetta said. “I don’t think I need to disrupt his routine to get there just to gallop. We’re going to stay at Laurel where it’s quiet.”

Pimlico officials have told trainers the Preakness horses have to be on-site by 6 a.m. Saturday. Barbaro and Diabolical — who are both at Fair Hill Training Center an hour north of Baltimore — will be vanned in on Friday.

Platinum Couple, Brother Derek and Hemingway’s Key are at Pimlico.

Hendricks proposes change

Despite having the most graded stakes earnings entering the Kentucky Derby, Brother Derek started from the No. 18 post after a blind draw didn’t allow trainer Dan Hendricks to choose until 16th.

Hendricks thinks the Derby should change the process. Brother Derek had a rough trip and finished tied for fourth.

“It shouldn’t be a lottery,” he said. “Whoever earned the most and did the best should draw first. Make stakes earnings mean something. If you’re the 20th horse in, you don’t get to draw until 20th. It would be an interesting way to make your stakes earnings worthwhile.”

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