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Preakness favorite Super Saver settles into Stall 40
Associated Press

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver gets a bath after arriving at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday.

 

Associated Press

Lookin At Lucky is led to a barn by Martin Campuzano as trainer Bob Baffert, right, walks nearby at Pimlico Race Course.

 

Associated Press

Preakness entrant Paddy O'Prado arrives at Pimlico Race Course.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/13/20 12:01 PM | Updated: 5/13/2010 12:01 PM

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BALTIMORE -- The significance of the event was not lost on Todd Pletcher.

Pletcher was about to lead Super Saver into Stall 40 at the Pimlico Stakes Barn, upholding a custom spanning several decades. That's where the Kentucky Derby winner resides before the Preakness, and Pletcher was proud to be the latest trainer to set up shop in a space once occupied by Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid.

"They offered it to us, and we weren't going to buck tradition," Pletcher said Wednesday. "I think it's great. Most significantly, it's the one saved for the Derby winner."

Someone suggested it might be the most famous stall in horse racing.

"I would think you could make that case," Pletcher said.

A couple of hours later, a good day got even better for Pletcher. Super Saver drew the No. 8 post in Saturday's 12-horse race and was installed the 5-2 favorite with jockey Calvin Borel aboard the colt.

"Eight is perfect," Pletcher said. "It will give Calvin an opportunity to survey things. He'll be able to see who's doing what."

The thing about Stall 40 is that it's home to the only horse on the grounds with a chance to win the Triple Crown, and while Pletcher isn't thinking too far ahead, he knows his horse has a chance to make history.

"Bringing the Derby winner here, that's special," he said. "As you get closer you're thinking, what if we can get that second leg? It's different, and obviously winning this would make it a lot different. It's an interesting challenge. I'd love to get that second leg to take a shot at the third one."

Seventy favorites have won in the 134-year history of the Preakness, including each of the past two years. Can Super Saver make it three in a row?

"I think in some ways it appears the race is going to shape up well for him," Pletcher said. "His tactical speed should be able to put him in a good spot. We'll see what other speed shows up, but on paper it doesn't look like a tremendous amount."

Pletcher also will saddle Aikenite, who drew the inside post and is one of three horses listed at 20-1, along with Pleasant Prince and First Dude.

Lookin At Lucky was the 3-1 second choice of Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli. He'll start next to Super Saver in the No. 7 post after starting the Derby on the rail and finishing sixth.

"I am so relieved," trainer Bob Baffert said about drawing Lucky 7. "As soon as the '1' went by, I said, 'That's good.' I wanted the 7, 8 or 9."

The last beaten Derby favorite to win the Preakness was Point Given in 2001. He was trained by Baffert, who hasn't won the race since 2002.

Paddy O'Prado, the third-place Derby finisher, is the third choice at 9-2. He'll break from the No. 10 post.

"It's fine," said trainer Dale Romans, who also will saddle 20-1 First Dude. "In a 12-horse field, there is not a terrible position. I didn't want to be in the 1 or 12. Anything else we were going to be happy with."

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is taking two shots at winning his sixth Preakness. Unfortunately, the best of his two horses, Dublin, drew the No. 12 post. That should make it difficult for him to pay off as a 10-1 shot.

"I feel bad for Wayne," Baffert said. "He didn't want the 12."

Lukas' other horse, Northern Giant, joined Yawanna Twist as the long shots in the field (30-1).

They'll all be looking to spoil the fun for Pletcher, who insisted that his horse is ready to roll, rain or shine, after running to victory in the mud at Churchill Downs.

"All signs are he's come out of it well," Pletcher said. "His energy level and appetite, all those things have been encouraging.

"He's already run well on a dry surface and run well on a wet surface. He does handle mud very well, but I don't think that's the only reason he won. That said, if it rains, it's not going to hurt my feelings."