Sports

Derby favorites inside, outside

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 Wednesday'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, or takes well back in hopes of a big run late in the race. Neither style is Lookin at Lucky's usual trip.

"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 1/4-mile race, is at the opposite end of the starting gate — No. 20 — and might take the widest trip around Churchill Downs.

Still, jockey Joe Talamo wasn't deterred.

"Glad to be on the outside!!" he tweeted from California.

The post position draw, combined with Sunday's news that expected favorite Eskendereya was hurt and would not run, make the Derby 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.

The weather forecast could throw an added obstacle: there's a 60 percent chance of rain Saturday, with heavy accumulations possible.

Last year's 2-year-old champion, Lookin At Lucky got banged up while winning his season debut in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, 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."

The last horse to win the Derby from the No. 1 spot was Ferdinand 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 1/4 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 would probably be a better fit for the front-running style of Sidney's Candy than Lookin At Lucky.

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.

"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, including the filly Devil May Care, trained by Todd Pletcher. Pletcher has four horses in the race — down from a possible seven a week ago. On Wednesday he opted not to run Interactif, who had enough graded earnings to make the field. Pletcher said Interactif will be pointed to turf races.

Another last-minute defection was Endorsement, who came out of Wednesday's workout with an ankle injury. Endorsement, the Sunland Derby winner, might have surgery today.

The field from the rail out is: Lookin At Lucky, 3-1; Ice Box, 10-1; Noble's Promise, 12-1; Super Saver, 15-1; Line of David, 30-1; Stately Victor, 30-1; American Lion, 30-1; Dean's Kitten, 50-1; Make Music for Me, 50-1; Paddy O'Prado, 20-1; Devil May Care, 10-1; Conveyance, 12-1; Jackson Bend, 15-1; Mission Impazible, 20-1; Discreetly Mine, 30-1; Awesome Act, 10-1; Dublin, 12-1; Backtalk, 50-1; Homeboykris, 50-1; and Sidney's Candy, 5-1.

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