Super Saver appears to be the horse to beat at the 135th Preakness
Thursday, May 13, 2010
BALTIMORE -- There was something undeniably regal about Super Saver as he was led out of the van by trainer Todd Pletcher on Wednesday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course.
The fourth horse to disembark, the Kentucky Derby winner brandished the impossibly long limbs and torso of a Pro Bowl wide receiver and the imposing bearing to match, as if he knew he was the only horse in the world with a shot at claiming the coveted Triple Crown this year.
After a few circuits around the barn to work out the kinks, the muscular colt was brought to a halt just outside stall No. 40, the hallowed one reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner, where a phalanx of photographers and TV cameras documented the sponge bath that followed.
From time to time, Super Saver turned toward the paparazzi and stared, keenly aware of, and seemingly flattered by, the hubbub his presence was causing.
Until that point the day had gone perfectly, Pletcher said, after his famous colt was sponged dry, draped in a monogrammed blanket and led into his stall. The flight from Louisville, which had carried Super Saver and eight other entrants for Saturday's 135th Preakness Stakes, had been on time and without incident. And the champion hadn't been rattled by the police escort that led the vans from Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport to Pimlico or by the pomp on arrival.
Things only improved an hour later, when Super Saver drew the No. 8 post position and was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday's race.
Pletcher proclaimed himself pleased with the starting spot. Though he acknowledged reservations about the rigors of a two-week turnaround from the Derby to the Preakness, he said Super Saver was exhibiting every sign of being able to handle it well.
"Everything we've seen from an energy standpoint and appetite standpoint -- all the things you'd like to see -- he has shown us," Pletcher said. "He bounced out of the race really well. He was bright and alert the next day. And he has been that way every day since.
"I think he has got what a lot of good athletes have: He has got natural stamina, and he has tactical speed to go along with it. That's a dangerous combination."
Equally elated over the draw was trainer Bob Baffert, whose defeated Kentucky Derby favorite, Lookin at Lucky, will start from the No. 7 post position. That sets up a delicious side-by-side duel, at least in the early going, with the Derby favorite starting just inside the Derby winner.
Lookin at Lucky was bumped early in the Derby after starting from the rail and finished a disappointing sixth. Baffert responded by replacing veteran jockey Garrett Gomez with 25-year-old Martin Garcia.
"At least I feel I have a chance to win it," Baffert said, referring to the No. 7 post. "In Kentucky when he drew the 1, I knew I was doomed. I knew we didn't have a chance unless something miraculous was going to happen. And I felt bad for Garrett."