Bernardini, leading candidate for Horse of the Year honors, drew the three post position and was installed as the even-money favorite for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic–Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
A 3-year-old son of A.P. Indy
, who is undefeated in six straight starts since finishing fourth in his career debut, Bernardini will face off against Lava Man, the best in the West, in the $5-million, 1 1/4-mile Classic.
"I think he's probably at his best right now," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "And that's what you want. He's been training aggressively, and that's what I like to see."
With the defection of Super Frolic, who will start in the NetJets Mile (gr IT) when entries were taken at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Flower Alley, who previously was the top horse on the preference list, drew into the 13-horse field.
Invasor, winner of three grade I races in a row, was installed the 5-1 second choice. Lava Man, whose 14 career victories include his last seven efforts, is third choice at 6-1 odds.
A pair of European standouts will take aim at America's star, too, with George Washington and David Junior. Both colts were 10-1 on the morning line.
Among others in the Classic are 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo, 2005 Travers (gr. I) winner Flower Alley and 3-year-old grade I stakes winners Brother Derek and Lawyer Ron. There's also Perfect Drift, the 7-year-old gelding in his record fifth Classic.
"He's a great horse with impeccable breeding, and he's dominated the 3-year-olds," Perfect Drift's trainer Murray Johnson said of Bernardini. "He's going to have to step up. He's in the pros now, against the very best.
"All the other horses have been doing it for a long time and against other good horses over the years. He's going to have to show he can do it."
While favorites have won the past two years -- Saint Liam in 2005 and Ghostzapper in 2004 -- the race has not been kind to odds-on choices.
Three of four odds-on Classic favorites were beaten, with only Cigar in 1995 winning at 7-10. Cigar was third in the '96 Classic at 3-5, Easy Goer was second at 1-2 in 1989; and the entry of Slew O' Gold and Mugatea finished third and eighth, respectively, in 1984.
The field, in post order and morning line odds:
1 -- Brother Derek, Alex Solis, 30-1
2 -- Premium Tap, Edgar Prado, 30-1
3 -- Bernardini, Javier Castellano, Even
4 -- George Washington, Mick Kinane, 10-1
5 -- Lawyer Ron, Patrick Valenzuela, 20-1
6 -- Perfect Drift, Garrett Gomez, 20-1
7 -- David Junior, Jamie Spencer, 10-1
8 -- Lava Man, Corey Nakatani, 6-1
9 -- Giacomo, Mike Smith, 30-1
10 -- Flower Alley, John Velazquez, 30-1
11 -- Invasor, Fernando Jara, 5-1
12 -- Suave, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1
13 -- Sun King, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1