By BETH HARRIS
AP Racing Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Nobody wanted to be No. 1.
No. 20 wasn't too popular, either.
Dialed In managed to avoid both - the inside rail and far
outside - at Wednesday's post-position draw for the Kentucky Derby.
He was made the early 4-1 favorite for Saturday's race after
drawing the favorable No. 8 post, prompting owner Robert LaPenta to
let out a cheer. Uncle Mo was the second choice in a full field of
Ten horses have won from the No. 8 position; the last, 50-1
shocker Mine That Bird two years ago.
"It's a big thing, and he deserves it," two-time Derby winner
Nick Zito said, referring to his horse's status as the favorite.
Dialed In has won 3 of 4 career races.
Three times in the last seven runnings the favorite has worn the
garland of roses, most recently Big Brown in 2008.
"So far, so good," Zito said. "If he has another couple of
good days we'll be happy. Things are doing all right."
Things haven't been quite so right for Uncle Mo, who drew the
No. 18 post, three slots from the outside. The colt is being
treated for a gastrointestinal infection, which was blamed for his
stunning first-ever defeat in last month's Wood Memorial.
Owner Mike Repole has said if Uncle Mo isn't sufficiently
recovered, he won't run in the 1¼-mile Derby. Trainer Todd
Pletcher, however, said Uncle Mo might be able to win even if he's
at less than his best.
"But we're committed to bringing him over there at 100 percent,
anything less than that, we won't accept," he said.
Uncle Mo, last year's 2-year-old champion, jogged a mile around
the dirt track at Churchill Downs and later stood in the starting
gate to familiarize himself with the surroundings. He is scheduled
to gallop on Thursday.
"I've always said I think he's the best horse of his
generation," Pletcher said. "We proved that last year and
identified what we thought was the reason for the poor performance
in the Wood. I think if he shows up and he's the Uncle Mo from the
Breeders' Cup or the Champagne or even the Timely Writer, he's the
horse to beat."
Uncle Mo would have to overcome a bit of history.
Only one horse since 1900 has come out of the No. 18 hole to win
and that was Gato Del Sol in 1982.
Still, Pletcher and Repole were relieved to have avoided the
"We had this overlying fear we were going to get the 1," the
trainer said. "Once it was anything besides that we were happy."
Repole's other colt, Stay Thirsty - also trained by Pletcher -
landed in the No. 4 post and is 20-1 on the morning line set by
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.
Pletcher ended an 0-for-24 skid in the Derby last year when
Super Saver won from the No. 4 post.
Nehro was the third choice at 6-1. The other 17 horses were
listed at double-digit odds.
The dreaded No. 1 post - the last position revealed - went to
Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch. That spot did in last year's
finished sixth for trainer Bob Baffert.
"I have always wanted to be No. 1, but not in the KentuckyDerby
Archarcharch who will give specific race instructions to jockey Jon
Court, his son-in-law.
"I'll just tell Jon to get good position, save ground and
figure out a way to get out. It is still the shortest way around
and at least I am not out next to the track kitchen."
Like Uncle Mo's connections, Baffert was happy that stalker
Midnight Interlude escaped the inside post.
"My wife texted me. She's at LAX and said, `If we draw the No.
1, let me know so I can get off the plane,"' he said. "This is
the toughest part of getting through the whole Derby. From now on
it's the luck.
"I wanted to be on the outside. When you have a lightly raced
horse you want to keep him in the clear as much as possible."
Archarcharch and Midnight Interlude were the co-fourth choices.
The other trainer with two starters is Mike Maker, who will
saddle Twinspired and Derby Kitten.
A total of 22 horses were entered, two more than the maximum
allowed field of 20, which is based on earnings in graded stakes
races. Sway Away and Ruler On Ice were shut out because their
earnings weren't high enough to put them among the top 20.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)