“All of the exotics are going to pay boxcars this year.”
This is an actual thing a stupid person (me) said two weeks ago, just hours before the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd betting choices finished in that order in the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby (presented by YUM! BrandsTM). I wasn’t even halfway through my first mint julep, so really, no excuse. And such is life in the world of Triple Crown handicapping, where the post time favorite has won the last four races, and six of the last seven. It’s possible that this strategy is not as fool-proof as I once believed it to be.
Gambling woes notwithstanding, this year’s Run For the Roses was one of the least visually appealing in a number of years. Even without the issues that typically plague the Kentucky Derby (bad starts, excessive crowding, horses lugging in the stretch), I found this year's edition to be entirely milquetoast. The pace developed exactly as it was expected to, and the prohibitive favorite (NYQUIST) seized control for good at the 1/8th pole, with the next two betting choices (EXAGGERTOR, Gun Runner) picking up the pieces in the stretch. Had it not been for the half-dozen juleps and Canelo Alvarez going rock-em-sock-em robots on Amir Khan, the day would have been something of a letdown.
Of course, none of this is meant to take anything away from NYQUIST or his jockey, Mario Gutierrez. What is made to look routine actually requires world-class timing and patience on behalf of the rider, and world-class talent on behalf of the horse (and this horse does, indeed, have that talent). Alas, it's on to Baltimore. Our top two finishers (NYQUIST, EXAGGERTOR) turn back together, having both come in from Lexington in good form. However, this can’t exactly be billed as a rematch (though that will be the TV angle), given the ease with which NYQUIST dispatched of the field, relative to the all out effort EXAGGERATOR put in just to earn place honors. That said, I do think that this year’s Preakness will shape up to be something of a grudge match, with the chance for plenty of fireworks outside the top two, given the plethora of speed and field size (11), along with the increasing likelihood of a sloppy track.
With these factors in play, the Preakness would typically be an opportunity to earn (back) some money at the pari-mutuel window. Remember, for the vast majority of the viewing public, the Kentucky Derby is the entirety of their sample size when handicapping the Preakness and everyone wants to root for the prospect of a Triple Crown winner. This herd mentality will generally result in dislocations in odds that can be exploited. And yet, I just don’t see that happening this year. The top two choices appear to be so far superior in talent to the rest of the field, that I believe it would be foolish to bet against that simply in the interest of taking the contrarian viewpoint. That being said (and with my prior commentary in mind), it’s probably not a bad idea to put a few shekels on the longest shot in the race. And while I'm listing my exacta/trifecta ideas here, I think the play is also to use the surrounding races in Daily Doubles/Pick 3s. You'll get better value there than on the single-race exotics.
Advice from our resident Horseman:
1) EXAGGERATOR 5
2) NYQUIST 3 WILL BE BOXING IN AN
3) STRADIVARI 11 EXACTA/TRIFECTA
LONG SHOT – LAOBAN 8 (EVER WANTED TO GET 75-1 ODDS ON A MAIDEN IN A TRIPLE CROWN RACE? HERE’S YOUR CHANCE)
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 (LANI, 30-1, this year)
· Not one of the 11 horses entered this year have raced at Pimlico
· Since 1932, the Kentucky Derby winner has gone on to win the Preakness 24 times (6 times since 2002). The most recent to do so was AMERICAN PHAROAH, last year
· Over the last 14 years, 10 Kentucky Derby favorites have returned to finish either 1st or 2nd in the Preakness
· Of the 11 horses entered in this year’s Preakness, 9 were bread in Kentucky, and 2 were bred in Florida. The last Florida-Bred to win the Preakness was the Afleet Alex (2005)
· 73 out of 140 Preakness winners lifetime have been bay-colored horses (52%)
· The weather forecast for race time is 59 F and partly cloudy with a 45% chance of rain
· Officially, the Port-a-Potty dash has been banned by Pimlico officials. Word is that the time-honored tradition endures in unsanctioned form. Building on the success of last year’s program (Armin van Buuren and Childish Gambino), this year’s Budweiser Fan Fest will include The Chainsmokers and Fetty Wap on the main stage. All Time Low (with Chris Janson & Corey Smith) will perform on the Jägermeister Second Stage, following the conclusion of the Bikini Content. 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!