Bob Baffert sent a text to his wife, Jill, shortly after the post position draw Wednesday for the 140th running of the middle leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes.
He told her his two horses, favorite and 4-5 betting choice American Pharoah and 7-2 second choice Dortmund, had drawn the Nos. 1 and 2 posts, respectively.
She texted back: "Do you want to go home?"
Baffert has made it clear that he hates the inside posts at these Triple Crown races; actually, at most races. So he had to form a rationale quickly as the media encircled him.
"If you had told me I could win the Kentucky Derby," he said, "but then my Derby winner would have to start No. 1 in the Preakness, I'd take it."
The inside posts can be problematic with large fields, because horses are steered toward the rail after the break, and the more coming that way from the outside can impede the inside starters.
Baffert also agreed that there is a difference between starting near the rail in a race such as the Kentucky Derby, with its usual 20 starters, and a race such as Saturday's Preakness, which has eight entrants.
"I don't love the draw," Baffert said, "but you have to break clean, no matter what."
The eight-horse field is the smallest at the Preakness since 2000. Had Mr. Z not become a late entry, after his sale from Ahmed Zayat to Calumet Farm, the seven-horse field would have been the smallest since California trainer Mel Stute and rider Alex Solis won with Snow Chief in 1986.
Owner Arnold Zetcher's Firing Line drew the outside gate and was made the third choice at 4-1. Next came Divining Rod, No. 7 pole and 12-1 odds; Danzig Moon out of No. 4 at 15-1; Mr. Z in No. 3 and Bodhisattva in No. 6 at 20-1, and longshot Tale of Verve out of No. 5 at 30-1.