If all goes as Michael Machowsky expects, Caracortado, an increasingly popular choice by some racing insiders, will set the pace for the other horses Saturday.
Machowsky said the race's only gelding tends to jump ahead of the pack, a scenario that would suit the trainer/part owner just fine in the 135th Preakness.
"I think he'll be on the lead or close to it," Machowsky said. "I just don't see a lot of speed in here. The only other two horses that they think have any gas are inside of me, and if they want to go, I'll be right there with him."
Caracortado drew the No. 9 post, a position Machowsky said will keep him out of the fray. The horse wasn't run in the Kentucky Derby after finishing fourth at the Santa Anita Derby, his home race.
It was a poor finish for a horse that had won the first five races of his career, usually in wire-to-wire fashion.
Lookin At Lucky has six wins and is the only horse in the field with more victories than Caracortado.
"If you watch all his races, he always breaks on top," Machowsky said of Caracortado. "If we're sitting outside of somebody, and us two are setting the fractions, then us two are going to get a comfortable trip. It's a good post. Everything worked out, and hopefully we'll keep it that way."
Caracortado left California early Wednesday morning and flew cross-country for the first time in his career, stopping briefly in Louisville, Ky., and joining eight other horses.
Hurricane Ike scratched
Hurricane Ike has been scratched from the race with a leg injury, leaving the field at 12 horses.
The injury was detected at Churchill Downs on Wednesday morning, and the horse didn't make the trip to Baltimore.
"My horse isn't so fine," said trainer John Sadler. "It's something that came up this morning. I got a call telling me he was off."
Dr. Ken Reed attended to the injury in his left hind leg, which doesn't appear to be career-threatening.
"This is pretty fresh, but it looks similar to the problem he had at Oak Tree," said Sadler, referring to an injury that limited the colt earlier this year. "He might have re-injured himself in the same area."
Hurricane Ike won the Derby Trial and was a runner-up at the Bay Shore, and was expected to be one of the contenders here this week. Sadler said last week that he was hopeful that the horse had finally turned a corner after a string of inconsistent performances.
"This is extremely disappointing," he said. "But what can you do? Sometimes they don't cooperate. Hopefully, we'll get him into some big races later this year."
Dale Romans isn't drawing the same level of attention as the other two high-profile trainers — D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher — with multiple entries in the race, but the Kentucky-based trainer is fine in the background, as long as his horses don't do the same.
Paddy O'Prado and First Dude will open side by side in the No. 10 and No. 11 posts, respectively. Paddy O'Prado remains a favorite, opening up at 9-2 odds, after finishing third at the Kentucky Derby.
"Paddy didn't have a problem with the 10-hole in the Derby, and I'd like to have him on the inside of First Dude," Romans said. "It gives us a few more options maybe."
Lukas on outside
Lukas spoke with the media and others for more than an hour early Wednesday morning but was more curt after his horse, Dublin, drew the No. 12 post.
The longtime trainer seeking his sixth Preakness was upfront about his horse's chances coming from the outside position. "I hate it," he said. "There isn't much I can do about it, just accept what they gave us. It probably wouldn't be the one I'd pick. We're out there, and we'll make the best of it."