Big Brown to start in the middle this time

Times Staff Writer

BALTIMORE -- For the first time in three races, Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown won't be starting from the outside. He drew the No. 7 post in a field of 13 Wednesday for the 133rd running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.

"He gets to save some ground for the first time," co-owner Mike Iavarone said. "I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. We'll find out."

Before the draw, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said, "There is so much good karma going in our stable, I don't care what post position he draws."

That seems to be the feeling everywhere. Big Brown was installed as a 1-2 favorite for the Preakness.

The early second choice is Southern California's Gayego at 8-1. Gayego, the only other horse in the Preakness field that ran in the Derby, will be ridden by Mike Smith. Gayego finished 17th in the Derby.

Another Southern California horse that figures to have a chance is 15-1 shot Yankee Bravo. The only other horse given better odds was the Todd Pletcher-trained Behindatthebar at 10-1. Kentucky Bear is also listed at 15-1.

Yankee Bravo drew the No. 4 post, and trainer Paddy Gallagher said he was fine with that spot. When it was pointed out that Curlin, last year's Preakness winner, started from the No. 4 post, Gallagher smiled.

Yankee Bravo is coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby and didn't have enough graded-stakes earnings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

But Gallagher said he likes the 1 3/16 -mile Preakness distance for Yankee Bravo and was pointing him for this race anyway. Alex Solis will again be aboard.

Other Southern California jockeys in the race will be David Flores on Behindatthebar and Tyler Baze on 30-1 shot Tres Borrachos. And of course Kent Desormeaux, formerly based in Southern California, will ride Big Brown.

Big Brown on Wednesday experienced what a lot of humans experience these days -- a flight delay. Bad weather delayed his arrival in Baltimore by more than two hours.

Iavarone said the delay had no effect on the horse. He stayed in his stable at Churchill Downs until flight clearance was given. The track isn't far from the Louisville airport.

Iavarone still likes his horse's chances.

"I think if he gets a clean trip, I don't know of anybody who can run with him," he said. "Now, drawing post 7, if nobody wants to go with him he can bounce out of there and take the race on his own on the lead. It gives Kent a lot more options."

Eleven Preakness winners have come from the No. 7 post, the last being Silver Charm in 1997. Silver Charm also won the Kentucky Derby, but lost in the stretch to Touch Gold at the Belmont.

Big Brown is 4-0 in his career, having won by a combined total of more than 33 lengths.

"We all know how hard it is to win the Kentucky Derby and come back in two weeks to win the Preakness," Iavarone said. He said a four-week break would be ideal.

"But you don't break 133 years of tradition," he added.

Big Brown will try to join Majestic Prince (1969), Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (1977) and Smarty Jones (2004) as undefeated Derby winners who also won the Preakness. Six of the past 11 Derby winners have gone on to take the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Reade Baker, the trainer of Kentucky Bear, seemed confident that Big Brown can be beat.

"He beat all those horses at Churchill Downs," he said, "but he didn't beat us."




The Preakness draw

The draw for Saturday's 133rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Post time: 3 p.m. PDT. TV: Ch. 4.

*--* PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds 1. Macho Again Julien Leparoux Dallas Stewart 20-1 2. Tres Borrachos Tyler Baze Beau Greely 30-1 3. Icabad Crane Jeremy Rose Graham Motion 30-1 4. Yankee Bravo Alex Solis Patrick Gallagher 15-1 5. Behindatthebar David Flores Todd Pletcher 10-1 6. Racecar Rhapsody Robby Albarado Ken McPeek 30-1 7. Big Brown Kent Desormeaux Rick Dutrow 1-2 8. Kentucky Bear Jamie Theriot Reade Baker 15-1 9. Stevil John Velazquez Nick Zito 30-1 10. Riley Tucker Edgar Prado Bill Mott 30-1 11. Giant Moon Ramon Dominguez Richard Schosberg 30-1 12. Gayego Mike Smith Paulo Lobo 8-1 13. Hey Byrn C.C. Lopez Eddie Plesa 20-1 *--*

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