BALTIMORE – No rail for Bo-rail.
Don’t look for jockey Calvin Borel to be riding the rail in the Preakness. He’s so confident in Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver — even boasting the colt will win the Triple Crown — that he’s come up with a new strategy.
Borel expects Saturday’s race to be the opposite of the speed-crazed Derby, where his patented rail-hugging ride guided Super Saver to a 2 1/2-length victory in the slop.
If another horse wants to go to the lead, Borel can position Super Saver just off the pace. If not, he said he and his colt will take it to their 11 rivals after breaking from post No. 8.
Super Saver has won races either on the lead or from a stalking position, giving Borel options in the 1 3-16-mile race.
“I’m not going to ride him like I did the last time, on the fence, I don’t believe,” he said Friday.
Super Saver is the early 5-2 favorite for the $1 million Preakness. If the colt can back up Borel’s bragging, he’ll set himself up for a Triple Crown try in three weeks in the Belmont Stakes.
“This colt is starting to peak at the right time and it’s a big, big plus,” Borel said.
It’s been 32 years since Affirmed swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become horse racing’s 11th Triple Crown winner. With females Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta dominating racing these days, the sport is hungry to anoint a king and capture public interest that wanes outside its major races.
“I’m always confident in my horse. I maybe say things that I shouldn’t — that I’m going to win it,” Borel said. “I don’t know if people understand, but if you’re going to ride, why don’t you want to win it? C’mon. That’s me. I’m coming here to win the race.”
So is trainer Todd Pletcher, who has not won the Preakness in four tries. Despite having saddled 24 horses for the Derby, he didn’t win it until he sent in Super Saver with Borel aboard.
“Todd has the first line of his tombstone: Winner of the 2010 Kentucky Derby,” trainer Bob Baffert said jokingly.
Baffert will saddle 3-1 second choice Lookin At Lucky, the beaten favorite who was compromised by starting on the rail in the Derby. This time, he’ll be in the No. 7 post — right next to Super Saver — with new rider Martin Garcia replacing Garrett Gomez.
“Everything is going to be pushed down to the inside,” Baffert said. “The whole key to the race is what (Kent) Desormeaux does (on Paddy O’Prado). Kent will probably start the tempo and the rest of us have to fall into it.”
Desormeaux knows Pimlico’s tight turns better than just about anyone. He won riding titles here earlier in his career and he won the 2008 Preakness aboard Big Brown.
“You have to ride aggressively,” said Baffert, a four-time Preakness winner. “That (first) turn comes up quickly. Everything bad happens in that first turn.”
The Preakness has eight fewer starters than the Derby, making for less of a calvary charge.
Seven horses in the race didn’t run in the 1 1/4-mile Derby, meaning they’re coming in fresh. Paddy O’Prado, who finished third at Churchill Downs, is one of five Derby horses returning from two weeks’ rest. Dublin was seventh and Jackson Bend 12th.
“All of us that were in the Derby could probably make a legitimate excuse for weather and mud,” said D. Wayne Lukas, who trains long shots Dublin and Northern Giant. “Everyone wants to see what happens on a dry track.”
The forecast calls for sunny skies and highs in the upper 70s, ensuring Pimlico’s dirt track will be fast.
Post time is 6:15 p.m. EDT.