After a crowded field of 20 talented horses raced in the Kentucky Derby, just eight will take to the starting gate at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Among them will be some familiar faces – Good Magic, Bravazo, and Lone Sailor will all look to improve upon their finishes at Churchill Downs.
There will also be some new horses racing in their first Triple Crown race as well, including Diamond King and Quip, whose fresh legs could come up big should Justify falter in the stretch of the track.
With the morning line odds now set, horse racing enthusiasts across the country are now pouring over information in hopes of finding the winning trifecta. Below we break down every horse in the race by their odds, and how to bet them when they take to the starting gate on Saturday.
Post position: No. 7
Current odds: 1-2
Why he’s a good bet: He’s undoubtedly the strongest horse in the race. Justify beat a remarkably talented field of 19 other horses at the Kentucky Derby, and did it with relative ease. Bob Baffert has trained four horses to Kentucky Derby wins before Justify, and all four have gone on to win the Preakness as well.
Barring any unforeseen setback or problems with the track, he’s in an excellent position to take the second leg of the Triple Crown and head to the Belmont Stakes on the cusp of history.
Reasons to be wary: The biggest concern I would have over Justify heading into the race would be his odds – he’s a deserving favourite, but it’s likely that so much money will be pouring in on him to win that his odds by post time will be preposterously low. Even if he is the strongest horse in the field, horse racing is a chaotic sport, and any time a favourite feels like a sure thing it’s always best to check yourself before taking out a second mortgage.
How to bet him: Justify should be at the top of your exactas and trifectas – you likely don’t even have to box these unless you want to be extremely cautious. Betting him straight to win feels like an ok bet if you can lock him in at a good price, but with his odds likely to plummet before the start of the race, the real money to be made will be in finding the right picks for second and third to hit your trifecta.
Post position: No. 5
Current odds: 3-1
Why he’s a good bet: As the odds indicate, Good Magic has the best chance of challenging Justify at the finish line. He ran well enough at the Derby to beat 18 other horses. He should have a strong position coming out of the fifth post, and if jockey Jose L. Ortiz can run a similar race to the one he ran at Churchill Downs, he has a good shot at once again challenging the favourite.
Reasons to be wary: As Chris Fallica noted on ESPN’s “Behind the Bets” podcast, the Preakness has not had a second-favourite choice finish in the exacta since 1981. If you believe that Justify is going to take the top spot, trends would suggest that Good Magic is due to fall off.
How to bet him: Depends on how you see the race playing out. If you want to pick against the favourite to win, Good Magic is likely your best option. If you’re looking for what the odds would suggest is a more likely trifecta, he’s a good name to toss in with Justify and the longshot of your choice. But if you are riding the trend mentioned above, there’s good reason to leave him off your board entirely – there are better payouts to be had elsewhere on the board.
Post position: No. 1
Current odds: 12-1
Why he’s a good bet: Quip is running on fresh legs and enters the race in fine form. His last race was a second place finish in the Arkansas Derby, where he ran stride-for-stride with a then-undefeated Magnum Moon all the way until the final stretch. If any fresh horse is going to be the one to take down Justify, Quip is likely the one.
Reasons to be wary: This will be the longest race of Quip’s young career, and there’s always a bit of an unknown factor when pushing a horse to a new distance. Quip has won three of his five career races, but there’s a chance he falls off in the final stretch if other horses prove to have the legs.
How to bet him: Again, if you’re looking to pick a horse not named Justify to win, Quip is a fun ticket and should go off at relatively reasonable odds. He’s also likely a solid trifecta play to pair with Justify and another horse if you’re looking to increase your payout at the top of the ticket. My money will have him in more than one trifecta.
Post position: No. 2
Current odds: 15-1
Why he’s a good bet: While his finish at the Kentucky Derby fell a bit short of trainer Thomas M. Amoss’ hopes, Lone Sailor will have a new jockey heading into the Preakness which could make a difference.
Reasons to be wary: Lone Sailor hasn’t won a race in his past six starts and finished fifth or worse in three of them.
How to bet him: Throw him into a trifecta or superfecta if you’re trying to cover your bases on some longshot bets, but I won’t have any of my money on him come Saturday.
Post position: No. 8
Current odds: 20-1
Why he’s a good bet: Bravazo ran a better-than-expected race at the Derby. Despite being forced wide for basically the entire circuit of the race, he closed strong and finished in sixth. Despite starting in the widest post, the smaller field of the Preakness should make the race an easier one to navigate, and if he can run a similar pace to what he hit at Churchill Downs but hang a little closer to the rail, he’s a good pick to find himself in the top three.
Reasons to be wary: He’s now finished sixth or worse in three of his past five races and has already finished behind half of the horses in this field in other races.
How to bet him: Bravazo’s run in the Derby was deceptively encouraging, and if he’s in a similar form I like him to finish in the top three. Justify with Quip and Bravazo in either slot of second and third will be one of my heavier trifecta plays.
Post position: No. 6
Current odds: 20-1
Why he’s a good bet: He undoubtedly has the pedigree for this race, as his sire Curlin won the Preakness Stakes back in 2007. Like Justify, the favourite, Tenfold did not start his racing career until he was a three-year-old, winning his first two races before falling off to a fifth-place finish at the Arkansas Derby. He’s already proven himself a winner, and with this being just his fourth race, there’s no telling how much he’s improved since his run in Arkansas.
Reasons to be wary: His only race against comparable competition was his disappointing finish in the Arkansas Derby.
How to bet him: He’s another horse I’ll be throwing into trifecta plays with Quip and Bravazo with Justify at the top. A Justify-Tenfold exacta doesn’t strike me as too bad a bet either.
Post position: No. 4
Current odds: 30-1
Why he’s a good bet: Well, his odds will be long. If he runs the race of his life and winds up in the top three, it will be a nice bonus to anyone who hit their trifecta.
Reasons to be wary: Diamond King won his invitation to the Preakness Stakes thanks to a first-place finish in the Federico Tesio Stakes. According to Don Markus at the Baltimore Sun, since the Tesio moved to Laurel Park in 1981, just one horse that won the race has gone on to win the Preakness, and no such horse has finished in the money at Pimlico since Icabad Crane ran third in 2008.
How to bet him: Again, if you’re looking to cover your bases on a trifecta or superfecta, buy the extra ticket just in case, but he won’t be a part of any of my plays on Saturday.
Post position: No. 3
Current odds: 30-1
Why he’s a good bet: Like Diamond King, he’ll add a good amount of winnings to anyone that has the guts to bet him should he sneak into the top three. If you’re a high-risk, high-reward type of player, sure, take a shot with him.
Reasons to be wary:He hasn’t finished higher than third in the four races this year, including a disappointing fourth-place finish at the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs on the same muddy track as the Kentucky Derby.
How to bet him: Personally, I’ll pass. But if you like a horse with a solid trainer to bounce back after a disappointing finish, throw him into a few trifectas and cross your fingers.
So how are we actually betting the race?
Justify will be at the top of every one of my tickets. He’s the strongest horse in the field and remains undefeated. Bob Baffert has never had a Kentucky Derby winner lose as Pimlico, and Justify has already proven that he can navigate a muddy track with calm and certainty.
Behind him, I’ll be working combinations of Good Magic, Quip, Tenfold, and Bravazo. If that sounds like a lot, it is, but finding the right trifecta is all about covering your bases. If you were going to restrict me to my best bets, I’d run with Justify-Quip finishing first and second and play Tenfold/Good Magic/Bravazo in the third spot of my trifecta.
That said, I wouldn’t fault anyone for holding faith that Good Magic will be able to hold on to his second place finish from the Derby, and there’s likely a play with him and a variety of third place finishers.
Ultimately, horse racing is tough, and if you should just bet however you want. If there’s one this the sport has proven time and time again, it’s that anything can happen once the starting gun sounds.
More Preakness Stakes 2018:
- Preakness Stakes 2018: Post positions and opening odds for the second leg of the Triple Crown
- Justify is the heavy favourite heading into the Preakness Stakes, and his trainer’s success in the race suggests he’s a good bet to win the second leg of the Triple Crown
- Brave gambler wins $US150,000 on Kentucky Derby bet made before Justify had ever run a race
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