LOUISVILLE, Ky. — American Pharoah was made the early 5-2 favorite Wednesday for the 141st Kentucky Derby, with Dortmund the second choice in the full field of 20 horses, giving trainer Bob Baffert the top two choices on the morning line.
American Pharoah drew the No. 18 post. Only one horse has won from there, Gato Del Sol in 1982. American Pharoah comes into the Derby having won the Arkansas Derby by eight lengths.
“I’m extremely happy. I love 18. Not like, love,” owner Ahmed Zayat said. “He’s outside in the clear. He can do whatever he wants. He can sit and watch. The jock has so many options. That’s the best post.”
Baffert’s other horse, undefeated Dortmund, drew the No. 8 post and is 3-1 for the 11/4-mile race Saturday at Churchill Downs. That spot has produced eight winners, most recently 50-1 stunner Mine That Bird in 2009.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Baffert said. “It’s probably the last stressful part of the whole Derby. We have the holes and hopefully our name will be hanging up there in the winner’s spot.”
The dreaded No. 1 spot in the starting gate was the last to be filled, leaving Baffert, Todd Pletcher and D. Wayne Lukas sweating it out while hoping to avoid the inside position that can derail a winning bid.
“I did not like the way it was playing out. I just couldn’t believe they hadn’t called one of my horses,” Baffert said. “A lot of the holes were being taken that I sort of like, and then I was really relieved to get 18 so I was happy with that.”
Blue Grass winner Carpe Diem, one of Pletcher’s four entries, is the 8-1 third choice from the No. 2 post.
“There were limited numbers left,” Pletcher said. “We’ll go with it. What else can we do? My confidence has not changed at all.”
Another Pletcher horse, Florida Derby winner Materiality, and Sunland Derby winner Firing Line are co-fourth choices at 12-1 odds. His other horses are even longer shots: Itsaknockout and Stanford, both 30-1.
American Pharoah, Dortmund and Carpe Diem were the only horses listed at single digits by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. Favorites have won the last two years, with California Chrome last year and Orb in 2013.
Ocho Ocho Ocho drew the No. 1 post and is among four horses at 50-1, along with Keen Ice, War Story and Mr. Z, who is trained by four-time Derby winner Lukas.
With only two openings remaining, Lukas pumped his first when Mr. Z landed in the No. 17 post, avoiding the rail.
Wood Memorial winner Frosted will break from the No. 15 post at 15-1. Louisiana Derby winner International Star drew the No. 12 post is 20-1. UAE Derby winner Mubtaahij drew the six hole and is listed at 20-1.
Bolo is a 30-1 shot that drew the No. 9 spot for Carla Gaines, who will try to become the first female trainer to saddle a Derby winner.
The 21st horse on the points list is Frammento and Tale of Verve is 22nd. They would need a defection before 9 a.m. Friday, when Derby wagering opens, to get into the $2.2 million race.
Post time is 6:34 p.m. on Saturday.