Bob Baffert doesn't like to attend the Kentucky Derby draw but when you're the sport's most successful trainer, you really don't have a choice.
However, on this day-early Tuesday selection of the starting post positions, Baffert couldn't be found, and it wasn't by design.
He was still in the parking lot trying to figure out the newly configured way to get to the Aristides Room at Churchill Downs.
"I couldn't find out how to get in," Baffert said. "It's completely changed."
When he arrived, he discovered that Justify, instilled as the morning-line favorite at 3-1, will break from the seven.
"I'm glad I wasn't here, because if I were sitting here, I probably would have drawn the one," the four-time winner of the Derby said.
"I don't like the draw because you sit there and then if you don't like what you drew, people get to see you suffering. Someone once asked me, 'How do I know if you don't like it.' Well, if you see me grab my stomach."
There was actually little suffering or stomach grabbing among the connections of the horses considered to be the best.
Mendelssohn, looking to be the first horse from Dubai to finish better than fifth, was the second choice at 5-1 and will break from the 14.
Magnum Moon is the third choice, post 16, at 6-1. Magnum Moon is one of four runners for trainer Todd Pletcher. Three of those colts will be in the auxiliary starting gate (posts 15-20).
"I guess we had four chances to get one and we had four chances to get 20," Pletcher said of the two unfavorable positions. "We avoided that. Ideally, we wouldn't have three in the auxiliary gate. After I said that, someone said four of the last seven winners have come out of the auxiliary gate. Maybe that's a good sign."
Pletcher's Audible (8-1) is in the five, Vino Rosso (12-1) in the 18 and Noble Indy (30-1) in the 19.
Santa Anita-based Bolt d'Oro (8-1) drew well in the 11.
"I like it," said owner/trainer Mick Ruis. "I'm really looking forward to it. We got My Boy Jack to the left and he always comes from behind. The other two to the right [Enticed and Bravazo] are kind of closers too. So I think it will give us some nice separation right out of the gate, which is what I like."
"I see about five horses trying to get to the front. That gets us in the second pack, which I think Bolt will negotiate real well."
Ruis also pointed to Bolt d'Oro and Good Magic's post. Good Magic, winner of the Eclipse Award for best 2-year-old last year, handed Bolt d'Oro his first defeat when he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"It's weird," Ruis said. "We had 11 and he [Good Magic] had six in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. We drew the same numbers. That's kind of fun."
It's not often that the 2-year-old horse of the year and winner of the Juvenile is 12-1 on the morning line. But that reflects the strength of the field.
Here are the starting positions with odds:
- Firenze Fire, 50-1
- Free Drop Billy, 30-1
- Promises Fulfilled, 30-1
- Flameaway, 30-1
- Audible, 8-1
- Good Magic, 12-1
- Justify, 3-1
- Lone Sailor, 50-1
- Hofburg, 20-1
- My Boy Jack, 30-1
- Bolt d’Oro, 8-1
- Enticed, 30-1
- Bravazo, 50-1
- Mendelssohn, 5-1
- Instilled Regard, 50-1
- Magnum Moon, 6-1
- Solomini, 30-1
- Vino Rosso, 12-1
- Noble Indy, 30-1
- Combatant, 50-1
12:35 p.m.: This article was updated thoughout with additional details