Heading into the Kentucky Derby, Justify was an obvious stand-out, but several other horses had also attracted attention, support, and betting money. With 20 horses doing something they’d never run before—race against 19 other horses, run 10 furlongs, be on a track in front of 100,000 people—anything can happen, but when the horses hit the wire, it was a one-horse race, and Justify once again put on a spectacular performance.
The Preakness lacks the chaos of the Derby (aside from the crowd): only eight horses are entered, and at 1 3/16 miles, the race is shorter. No horse race can ever be said to be predictable, but I’ve yet to talk to someone who thinks seriously that Justify will lose.
What the Preakness does have in common with the Derby is the surface. It poured on Derby day, and it’s been pouring in Baltimore all week, and not expected to stop until Saturday, if then. Anyone hoping that a different track surface will diminish Justify’s chances has to scratch that off the list.
Justify is the deserving favorite at odds of 1-2, and most of us aren’t going to make money on a price that short. Our public, professional handicappers offer their advice on how to cash in on Preakness 143.
Want a look at the full Preakness field? Here you go.
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Good luck and safe trips to all…
Seth Merrow, publisher of Equidaily.com and handicapper for Capitol OTB: We only have to go back to last year to find a “new shooter” that won the Preakness, when Cloud Computing beat the top two Derby finishers. But typically the Kentucky Derby runners tend to have an edge in the Preakness. It seems hard to imagine there are any “clever” choices among the new faces in this year’s second leg of the Triple Crown.
Certainly any bettors hoping to beat Justify can find—perhaps–some chinks in the armor based on the tough race in the Derby, the quick turnaround to the Preakness, and the chance of foot issues. But those are all relative unknowns compared to the already proven talent of the Derby winner.
I’ll put the Derby 1-2 finishers, Justify and Good Magic, right on top in the Preakness. If I’m going to look for a possible upsetter, it would be Diamond King. He looked good winning the Tesio last time and skipped last week’s Grade 3 Peter Pan in New York to compete here.
Quip is talented, but he wasn’t particularly flattered by Magnum Moon’s poor performance in the Kentucky Derby. However, he seems like a logical next choice.
So there are my four picks. With the expected short prices on both Justify and Good Magic–how to make money betting? Maybe a small exacta box using those four, just in case the top two are upset. And a stronger trifecta play using both Justify and Good Magic in the top spot and all four of the picks in the second and third spots.
Perhaps there is more value in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan. Sara Street (#9) seems to have improved in every start for potent connections and might be primed to continue moving forward in only her fifth career start. Midnight Disguise (#2) is better than her last start might indicate. Coach Rocks (#3) was our pick in the Kentucky Oaks and had a troubled trip that is not accounted for in some of the post-race commentary; she’s eligible to run big here. Goodonehoney (#7) is lightly raced but talented, as is Red Ruby (#4).
Candice Hare, TVG on-air host/analyst: The Preakness Stakes rightfully revolves around Justify, who enters off a commanding Kentucky Derby victory. For the third time in five starts, he looks likely to get a wet track, and while some would suggest that’s a positive, there is reason for concern. His two lowest TimeformUS speed figures came under similar conditions. Of course, he won both races, so he likely has the class to see off his foes regardless, but it’s still enough to suggest these are not his favored conditions.
On the other hand, Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic posted a career best when facing sloppy conditions for the first time on the first Saturday in May, having taken steps forward all season. While some will question the quick turnaround for a Chad Brown trainee, rarely does any American graded stakes runner step out multiple times in short succession. Furthermore, Brown has only had quality dirt runners in recent years, so the sample size is small and insignificant.
The likelihood of both favorites finishing outside the top three is slim, but in order to make a solid profit on the race, we’ll need to get one of them off the board. In this scenario, however, we won’t distinguish between the pair on top of trifectas.
Underneath, we will rely on plausible longshots to bolster payouts. Quip took his form to a new level when winning the Tampa Bay Derby and finishing second to Magnum Moon in Arkansas. He’s yet to be tested on a wet surface, but his pedigree — being by Distorted Humor out of an Indian Charlie mare — lends itself to those conditions. Lone Sailor ran well in both of his wet track attempts and is worth considering, given his better-than-it-looks performance after a troubled Derby run. Tenfold‘s lightly-raced profile and inherent potential for improvement appeals, as does the quality of Bravazo‘s peak performance in the Risen Star, should he rediscover that level.
My suggested wager for the Preakness Stakes will be a trifecta featuring Good Magic and Justify on top with those longshots underneath (5,7 in first place; 1,2,6,8 in second place; 1,2,6,8 in third place.).
Emily Gullikson, partner at OptixEQ.com: This year’s edition of the Preakness Stakes features the impressive Kentucky Derby winner Justify as the horse to beat. #7 Justify is taking on a field of rivals that he just towers over. He is fast, and he has a pace advantage and the important class edge. There are others in this field such as #1 Quip and #4 Diamond King that have shown a similar forwardly placed running style; and #3 Sporting Chance and #6 Tenfold have some early speed as well. None of those horses on their current form will beat Justify at his own game.
My bold opinion in here is to take a stand against the second-place finisher in the Derby and second choice on the morning line here, #5 Good Magic. I am of the opinion that his Derby was a taxing effort. Unlike in his other races, where he was allowed to relax early, in the Derby he was forced to run hard early and late. There is little argument about his talent and ability, but he just might be zapped from the Derby. From a gambling perspective, there is no value playing him along with Justify.
#8 Bravazo also ran in the Derby and may have run better than he’s been given credit for. He was parked wide every step of the way. He was the only horse that raced wide to stay on late. Every horse that finished in front of him was able to save ground at one point during the running. He will be used along with Justify in all plays and is worth a straight bet. For the underneath deeper exotic (exacta/trifecta) spot include the new shooters #1 Quip and #6 Tenfold.
Brian Nadeau, handicapper at Horseplayer Now and Brooklyn Backstretch: Making money on this year’s Preakness won’t be easy, as Kentucky Derby winner Justify is a legitimate 1-2 favorite, while runner-up Good Magic is about that price to run (at least) second. If you’re thinking outside the box, then by all means fire away because you’ll get big prices on all the rest, but it’s extremely unlikely that one of those two doesn’t win, and I can’t really see either of them running worse than second, especially since they showed in Louisville they can handle a wet, soupy race track. If you can get 3-1 on Good Magic, he’s worth a win bet, since he wasn’t far behind Justify in the Derby, should like the cutback in distance and, unlike the favorite, comes in here 110% for a trainer in Chad Brown who wouldn’t be running on short rest if his charge wasn’t tearing the barn down. Justify, meanwhile, has had to deal with a minor foot injury, that, by all accounts, is completely behind him, but another wet track could aggravate it a bit, which isn’t ideal when you’re talking about a horse that is likely to be the 2-5 favorite at post time. I’ll monitor the win price on Good Magic and act accordingly, while playing a strong one-way exacta with him on top of Justify. I’ll also play two strong straight trifectas with Sporting Chance and Lone Sailor in third, as both had a lot of trouble on Derby Day, the former on the undercard, the latter in the big race, and, if nothing else, would have been a lot closer with clean runs.
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