NEW YORK – Something Bob Baffert always dreads has come true ahead of the Belmont Stakes: Justify drew the No. 1 post for the colt's bid to sweep the Triple Crown.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was made the early 4-5 favorite in the 10-horse field for Saturday's race.
Baffert is not a fan of the inside post for his horses, no matter what the race.
"I never do like to draw the rail, but my horses seem to live in it," he said Tuesday. "We have it, we can't change it. We'll deal with it."
But history may be on Justify's side.
Since 1905, a leading 23 horses have won from the No. 1 post. The last to win from there was Empire Maker in 2003 when he spoiled Funny Cide's Triple Crown bid.
"He is so talented, I think he can dictate the race," Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said of Justify. "That is the thing that makes him very tough to beat. He can pick his spots. He is the key to how all of us run."
Justify won the first two legs of the series from the No. 7 post. He ran on sloppy tracks both times and the forecast for Saturday calls for rain.
This time the No. 7 hole went to Tenfold. The colt was a fast-closing third in the Preakness and is 12-1 for the Belmont.
Hofburg was made the 9-2 second choice. The colt finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness.
The only other horses with single-digit odds are Preakness runner-up Bravazo and Vino Rosso, both at 8-1. Vino Rosso finished ninth in the Derby and didn't run in the Preakness.
Baffert is seeking a second Triple Crown victory in four years. American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought when he completed the sweep in 2015. He broke from the No. 1 post in the Preakness.
In the 2010 Kentucky Derby, Baffert had the favorite with Lookin At Lucky, who broke from the No. 1 hole. The colt was pinned to the rail and had nowhere to go until a late run helped him finish sixth. He won the Preakness.
Jockey Mike Smith will need to use Justify's speed to get him away from the starting gate before the rest of the field comes over on him along the rail.
"It's all you can hope for," Baffert said. "He is on the inside, so he can sort of dictate what's going to go, what's happening."