American Pharoah early Kentucky Derby favorite

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2015 7:44 PM

(Reuters) - Arkansas Derby winner American Pharoah was installed as the early favorite for Saturday's 141st Kentucky Derby after drawing the 18th post position for the first leg of the Triple Crown.

American Pharoah was listed at 5-2 in the morning odds, with stablemate Dortmund rated the 3-1 second pick for his trip from the eighth position in the 20-horse field.

Trainer Bob Baffert was thrilled his two prime contenders in the Run for the Roses had avoided the number one post position.

"Outside doesn't really bother me," Baffert said about the auxiliary gate where American Pharoah will break from in the 1-1/4 mile race.

"I just didn't want to get stuck inside. He's a fast horse. In this race with so many horses, you have to break well. As long as he breaks well, he'll be in a good spot."

Baffert was relieved when Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund was assigned the eighth spot, as the inside starting position was also still available.

"The dreaded one hole, it's not a good feeling," said Baffert, who trained back-to-back Derby winners in 1997 and 1998 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet. "When he drew the eight, I was happy with that."

Ocho Ocho Ocho, a 50-1 longshot, drew the rail in the race for 3-year-olds.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has four horses in the field, with his top contender, Carpe Diem, drawing the second lane from the rail. Carpe Diem was listed as third choice at 8-1.

"We'll need to get away cleanly and establish position early," said Pletcher. "A little further inside than would be ideal. But oftentimes you get a good trip from a bad post. Hopefully we get a clean break."

Co-fourth choice at 12-1 in the early odds were Materiality, starting from the third position, and Firing Line, in the 10th gate, followed at 15-1 by Frosted from the 15th gate and Upstart, one lane outside American Pharoah at 19.

Two also eligible for the race should any horse scratch by Friday morning were Frammento, trained by Nick Zito, and Tale of Verve, trained by Dallas Stewart.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)