BALTIMORE – Afleet Alex was made the 5-2 favorite for the Preakness Stakes on Wednesday, while Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo was the fourth choice at 6-1 and drew the ominous No. 13 post.
The last time the Derby winner did not go off as the Preakness favorite was 2001, when Monarchos was the slight second choice behind Point Given, who won the race.
Afleet Alex, the Arkansas Derby winner, earned the favorite’s role after a strong run in the Derby ended with a third-place finish, just a length behind Giacomo. Afleet Alex leaves from the No. 12 post – the same gate he broke from in the Derby.
Giacomo came into the Derby with just one victory before pulling off the second biggest upset at 50-1 odds.
The outside posts for the favorite and Derby winner do not bode well for a winning effort. Since 1983, horses leaving from the No. 8 post and outward are 4 for 73 in the Preakness. Since 1917, Preakness starters leaving from the No. 13 post are 0 for 12.
A full field of 14 3-year-olds was entered for the 1 3/16 -mile race, the first time since 1992 the Preakness drew the maximum entries. High Fly, 10th in the Derby, was the second choice at 9-2 and Derby runner-up Closing Argument was the third choice at 5-1. High Fly drew the No. 2 post, and Closing Argument leaves from the No. 7 gate.
“I just think when you look at the race as a handicapper is ‘Can we beat the Derby winner?’ ” Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli said. “Last year, Smarty Jones … ‘No we can’t.’ … This year, Giacomo … ‘Yes we can.’ “
A record-tying 10 Derby horses are in the field, with four new shooters. The other time as many Derby horses were in the field occurred in 1999, when Charismatic was a long shot Derby winner.
John Shirreffs, who trains Giacomo, doesn’t feel slighted by the odds.
“It’s always kind of a comfort feeling when there’s not a lot of pressure,” Shirreffs said before the draw. “To be 1-5 would be awfully tough. We’re going out there and see what happens.”
High Fly, the Florida Derby winner, is one of three Preakness horses trained by Nick Zito. Only three other trainers have saddled three starters in one Preakness.
Zito’s other starters are Noble Causeway at 10-1 and Sun King at 15-1.
The new shooters are Malibu Moonshine and Scrappy T, both 20-1; Galloping Grocer at 30-1; and Hal’s Image at 50-1.
Post time is 3:15 p.m. PDT.
The winner’s share of the $1 million purse is $650,000.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.