Post draw turns out well for Baffert, should dictate tactics for American Pharoah & Dortmund
Bob Baffert had reason to smile after Wednesday’s post draw for the $2 million Kentucky Derby. The Hall of Fame trainer and three-time Derby winner avoided inside posts for his two top contenders, American Pharoah and Dortmund, and starting positions should dictate tactics for both talented three-year-olds.
American Pharoah looks set for a stalk-and-pounce trip from post 18 and I expect Dortmund to come busting out of post 8, setting up shop either on or very close to the early lead.
Baffert has made it clear that he thinks American Pharoah is special, perhaps the best horse he’s ever trained during an illustrious career. And despite American Pharoah’s high cruising speed, jockey Victor Espinoza settled the colt about three lengths behind the pacesetter in the Arkansas Derby before rolling to the fore on the far turn.
Baffert blames a hot pace for Point Given’s defeat as the overwhelming Derby favorite in 2001 and has stated that he doesn’t want to see the same fate befall American Pharoah.
American Pharoah is still quick enough to avoid going too wide into the first turn, but I think he could drop as far back as seventh or eighth if a battle develops up front as many expect. Different tactics may have come into play with an inside post, but that’s not a concern anymore.
Speed is the common thread when it comes to Dortmund: Baffert has repeatedly pointed out how much early gas the massive colt possesses and seems committed to a one-dimensional approach on Derby Day.
Following a pair of terrific wire-to-wire wins in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, Dortmund figures to be sent by jockey Martin Garcia when the gates open.
The last thing Baffert wants to see is American Pharoah and Dortmund dueling during the early stages.