Updated on 09/16/2011 8:23AM

All the speed lands outside

Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem arrives at Pimlico on Wednesday with trainer Bob Baffert. Picking next to last, Baffert chose post 8 for his horse in the field of 13 3-year-olds.

BALTIMORE - The charmed life of trainer Bob Baffert and his Kentucky Derby winner continued Wednesday, when War Emblem narrowly avoided the last pick in the post position draw for Saturday's Preakness, and instead got first choice and ended up in post 8.

With just two pills left to determine the selection order, only the numbers 1 and 13 had yet to be drawn. War Emblem, one of two horses left in the random drawing, got the first choice, with Equality getting the last pick, unlucky number 13.

Using that first choice, Baffert picked post 8 for the 127th Preakness Stakes, for which 13 horses were entered. Equality ended up on the far outside.

H. Graham Motion, the trainer of Equality, broke up the monotony of the draw by saying he had picked 13 "after much deliberation."

As in the Derby, the selection process again demonstrated a desire from trainers and jockeys for their horses to get stalking positions. Booklet, for instance, could have ended up in post 2, but trainer John T. Ward Jr. opted for post 10, outside War Emblem.

"We want to be the outside, controlling speed," Ward said.

D. Wayne Lukas, the trainer of Proud Citizen, could have taken the rail, but instead opted for post 12, outside both War Emblem and Booklet. Another speed horse, Menacing Dennis, landed in post 11, even though he could have had the rail, too, for this 1 3/16-mile classic.

So even though much of the talk this week has been about trying to keep War Emblem honest early, the connections of none of the potential front-runners chose to take an inside post, instead opting for posts that give them the option of reacting to whatever War Emblem does.

The post draw at the Preakness is similar to that at the Derby. First, a blind draw is held to determine the order of selection. Then, a representative of each horse picks a post position. The draw was held early Wednesday evening at the ESPNZone in this city's Inner Harbor area.

War Emblem, who was 20-1 when he won the Kentucky Derby, is 3-1 on the early Preakness line set by Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper. He is the second choice behind the 5-2 on Medaglia d'Oro, who finished fourth after a rough trip in the Derby. Medaglia d'Oro drew well, landing post 5.

Of the 13 horses in the Preakness, only four - War Emblem, Proud Citizen, Medaglia d'Oro, and Harlan's Holiday - are exiting the Derby. The other nine are newcomers to the Triple Crown. Every horse in the race carries 126 pounds.

Nancy Alberts, who owns and trains Magic Weisner, did not name a jockey at entry time, but Richard Migliore is the leading candidate to get the mount, Alberts said.

The Preakness will be televised live by NBC-Sports in a 90-minute show that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Preakness is 6:09 p.m. It is the 12th race on a marathon 13-race card.

After mild weather here mid-week, the forecast is for higher temperatures, and accompanying thunderstorms, on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Rain showers are forecast for Saturday morning, but the showers are supposed to clear out by midday, and the high temperature is supposed to be comfortable, in the high-60's.

Pimlico's main track has been quite resilient this week. Plenty of rain pelted the area Sunday night and again on Monday, but the track was fast for racing on Wednesday, though the turf was so soggy that both scheduled grass races were moved to the main track.

War Emblem, who had remained at Churchill Downs following the Derby, arrived at Pimlico on Wednesday shortly after noon. He was on a flight from Louisville, Ky., that also brought Preakness runners Booklet and Easyfromthegitgo. An early morning flight Wednesday brought Preakness runners Harlan's Holiday, Proud Citizen, and Table Limit, all of whom also had been training at Churchill Downs.

The second group of horses was split into three horse vans for the drive from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Pimlico. War Emblem was in the second van, which also had a stable pony and two fillies Baffert brought for stakes races this weekend.

After the two fillies left the van, War Emblem walked off with his groom, Roberto Luna. His jet-black coat gleamed in the mid-afternoon sun. He looked like his first airplane ride had not fazed him one bit.

"This horse is just getting better and better," Baffert said. "I'm just enjoying the ride."

War Emblem is housed in the stakes barn, but Baffert opted to not place War Emblem in Stall 40, the traditional spot for the Derby winner. He said his previous Derby winners, Silver Charm and Real Quiet, failed to win the Triple Crown, so he was trying to change his luck.

Booklet looked rested and ready when he got off his van. He has not raced in five weeks, since finishing second to Harlan's Holiday in the Blue Grass Stakes. Booklet's van was the first to arrive at Pimlico, because he was one of the first off the plane at the airport.

"He was on the plane in front of War Emblem. That might be the only time he's in front of him," Ward said self-deprecatingly.

Of the six horses who traveled from Louisville to Baltimore on Wednesday, the only one who did not appear as robust as two weeks ago was Harlan's Holiday, who finished seventh as the favorite in the Derby. His coat, which never has been shiny, seemed more dull than at Churchill Downs, and he looked to have lost a bit of weight.

Ken McPeek, who trains Harlan's Holiday, said his colt has bounced back from the Derby in good order, and has been eating aggressively, which McPeek says is a sign the colt is eager to do more. "When they're killing the feed tub, they run good," McPeek said. "He ate better after the Derby than he did before."

Only two of the Preakness runners are not yet on the grounds at Pimlico. Magic Weisner, who is stabled at Laurel Race Course, and Medaglia d'Oro, who has been training at Belmont Park, will arrive at Pimlico on Saturday after early morning van rides.

- additional reporting by David Grening

Preakness 127 Field
Prg. # Horse Jockey Morning Line
1. U S S Tinosa Kent Desormeaux 15-1
2. Magic Weisner Undecided 40-1
3. Straight Gin Robby Albarado 30-1
4. Crimson Hero Chris McCarron 20-1
5. Medaglia d'Oro Jerry Bailey 5-2
6. Harlan's Holiday Edgar Prado 9-2
7. Easyfromthegitgo Donnie Meche 15-1
8. War Emblem Victor Espinoza 3-1
9. Table Limit Gary Stevens 30-1
10. Booklet Pat Day 10-1
11. Menacing Dennis Mario Pino 50-1
12. Proud Citizen Mike Smith 6-1
13. Equality Ramon Dominguez 20-1

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