“Hey, the guy on TV is wearing the same jacket as you!”
This is something I heard from 5 or 6 people at the Kentucky Derby party I attended. If you watched the broadcast, you probably know which one they were talking about. If not, just try to imagine an adult man trying best as possible to look like a sophisticated rodeo clown. I had to just take their word for it because the Juleps made complex actions like looking at a television prohibitively complicated. But I made it through, no worse for the wear, and even caught a small piece of the tote board. Pretty good day, overall.
So now we move on to the Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. If it seems like we are in familiar territory right now, it’s because we are. For the 5th straight year, the post-time favorite (ALWAYS DREAMING) took the win honors, and for the 2nd time in three years Canelo Alvarez completely dominated his opponent. While this year’s fight was far less entertaining than in years past, the 2016 Derby was probably more engaging than last year’s runaway win. In fact, the exotic payouts this year were probably enough to keep the average fan engaged, a sign that bodes well for the wagering pools and for the sharp handicapper (remember, more “dead” money in the pool means better payouts for you, loyal reader).
Nonetheless, I’m still of the opinion that The Preakness is always the hardest of the three to work out from a wagering standpoint – there’s just so many unknown variables. How will the horses take to the Pimlico surface? How will these horses run on 2-weeks rest, something they have never come close to doing prior to now? How will the horses that skipped the Kentucky Derby fare in what will be a major class step-up? And how does the performance of a horse that did poorly in the Derby compare to that of a horse that skipped it altogether? These are all questions that are nearly impossible to answer, mostly because horses are insane animals, capable of anything. See, for example, my derby longshot pick (THUNDER SNOW), who broke from the gate and apparently forgot he was in a Triple Crown race, opting instead to buck around on the track and try to unseat the jockey. I read one article suggesting that he wasn’t comfortable with the cold mud hitting his groin, so I guess I can’t really blame him. Point being, it’s things such as this that make figuring out the Preakness that much more difficult.
As for the mechanics of the field and the pari-mutuel window, this year’s race presents a particularly challenging opportunity. Just as last year, the top two betting choices from the Derby (ALWAYS DREAMING, CLASSIC EMPIRE) came out of that race in good form and will be the top two choices once again this weekend. So you are faced with the choice of getting short odds on that exacta combo, or trying to find an alternate that will provide a little better return. Additionally, the field of 9 has almost no early speed and an abundance of deep closers. So, the final order of finish is likely to be influenced heavily by pace dynamics. If a speed duel on the front results in a breakneck early pace, then all bets are off (sorry) and the exotics should be big. If the pace is controlled, then we should be talking about a possible Triple Crown winner for the next three weeks. What happens when the gates open is up to the 1200-lb horses with the 90-lb jockeys. So, although I will never reclaim my dignity after pictures of that jacket have surfaced on Facebook, perhaps we can all reclaim a couple sheckles at the window tomorrow. Without further ado…
Advice from our resident Horseman:
1) CLASSIC EMPIRE 5
2) CONQUEST MO MONEY 10 WILL BE BOXING IN AN
3) ALWAYS DREAMING 4 EXACTAS/TRIFECTAS
LONG SHOT – MULTIPLIER 1 (LIGHTLY-RACED ILLINOIS DERBY WINNER
IS ON THE IMPROVE, GETS JOCKEY UPGRADE AND HAS HAD SUCCESS ON THE RAIL
KEY FACTS & FIGURES
- The Preakness Stakes winner is draped in a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans, the state flower of Maryland (also the official whiskey-based drink of The Preakness)
- The highest number of winners (16) have come from the # 6 post (GUNNERVA, 15-1, this year)
- Not one of the 9 horses entered this year have raced at Pimlico
- Since 1932, the Kentucky Derby winner has gone on to win the Preakness 24 times (10 times since 1997). The most recent to do so was AMERICAN PHAROAH, in 2015
- Over the last 14 years, 10 Kentucky Derby favorites have returned to finish either 1st or 2nd in the Preakness
- The betting favorite has won 72 of the 142 editions of the Preakness (50.7%)
- Of the 9 horses entered in this year’s Preakness, 8 were bread in Kentucky, and 1 was bred in New York (CONQUEST MO MONEY, 15-1). The last New York-bred to win the Preakness was the super-Gelding Funny Cide (2003)
- 74 out of 142 Preakness winners lifetime have been bay-colored horses (52.1%)
- The weather forecast for race time is 63 F and partly cloudy with a 5% chance of rain
- Officially, the Port-a-Potty dash has been banned by Pimlico officials. Rumor has it is that the time-honored tradition endures in unsanctioned form, though the programming trend suggests that it may cease to exist in the near future. Building on the success of the last two years, this year’s Budweiser Infield Fest will include Zedd and Sam Hunt on the main stage. Apparently, these are both real musical artists. High Valley, LOCASH, and Good Charlotte(!) will perform, following the conclusion of the Bikini Content on the DeKuyper Stage (f.k.a. the Jägermeister Second Stage). As always, none of this is made up....
Remember, these are just our thoughts and are in no way an endorsement to wager on these horses (or to wager, period). Good luck and enjoy!