This Saturday afternoon at Pimlico Race Track in Maryland the second leg of this year’s Triple Crown horse racing season takes place with the running of the 138th Preakness Stakes. A field of nine three-year old thoroughbreds are set to compete for the lucrative $1 million total prize purse in this 1 ¼ mile race on dirt.
Preakness Stakes Overview
At the top of that list according the morning line is Kentucky Derby Champion Orb at 1/1. His thrilling come-from-behind 2 ½-length victory in the Crown Jewel of this three-race series sets the stage for a Triple Crown run that has not been accomplished since 1978 when Affirmed last captured one of sport’s most elusive titles.
The reason that Orb is such a prohibitive favorite to win on Saturday has more to do with which horses are not in this race as opposed to which ones are. Key competitors such as Normandy Invasion, Verrazano and Revolutionary will not run in the Preakness as their trainers keep an eye towards next month’s Belmont Stakes as their next possible race. Another huge factor is a reduced field of just eight other competitors as opposed to a usual field of 14.
Orb did draw the inside rail for its starting position, but that has yet to have any impact on his current odds. It is as if the seas have been parted for this Shug McGaughey trained colt to win this race, but as anyone who regularly wagers on horses know, there are no such thing as a ‘sure thing’ when making your sports picks at this level of racing.
The horse at the top of my list that has the best chance of ending Orb’s Triple Crown run is Departing as a 6/1 third-favorite to win. This three-year old gelding did not run in the Kentucky Derby so not having the wear and tear from that grueling race should work in his favor. Trainer Al Stall Jr. has had a full month to get his horse ready for the Preakness after he posted an impressive 3 ¼-length victory in the Grade III Illinois Derby on April 20.
Another horse that has caught my eye as a mild longshot is trainer D Wayne Lukas’s Oxbow at 15/1. Ridden by Gary Stevens as a 30/1 longshot in the Kentucky Derby, this colt ran strong the entire way to finish a very respectable sixth in a crowded field. His long-distance endurance now becomes a much bigger factor in a field half that size. He is also one of the most experienced horses in the field with six previous races as a three-year old.
The betting odds for a couple of other key contenders include Mylute at 5/1, Goldencents at 8/1 and Itsmyluckyday at 10/1. Of the three, Mylute had the best showing in the Derby with a fifth-place finish while Goldencents went off as a top-three favorite but stumbled to 17th and Itsmyluckyday finished a disappointing 15th.
Preakness Stakes Betting Strategy
As already mentioned there are no guarantees that a prohibitive favorite goes on to win the race, but that does not mean you risk too much money to bet that he won’t. A small play on Departing to win is definitely in order, but my primary betting strategy for Saturday’s race is to wheel Orb with Departing, Oxbow and Mylute in an exacta bet to try and maximize your return on investment in a race with such a heavily skewed favorite. Look for the betting public’s money to keep pouring in on Orb, which will obviously lower his odds, but this will also work to increase the value of these other three contenders.
For more on the latest breaking news concerning the Preakness Stakes, visit SBR’s Horse Racing Betting Forum.