The second leg of this year’s Triple Crown horse racing season takes place this Saturday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore with the running of the 140th Preakness Stakes. Bettors will be looking for American Pharoah to win this second jewel as the odds-on-favorite.
The Preakness is a Grade 1 $1.5 million stakes race for the top three-year old thoroughbreds in the nation. It will be run on a dirt track over a distance of 1 3/16 mile and while most bettors will be handicapping winners as well as exacta and trifecta bets, I have decided to focus my energy of some of the prop bets odds and futures that have been released by Sportsbooks.
American Pharoah against the Field
This year’s Kentucky Derby winner comes into Saturday’s Preakness Stakes as a prohibitive favorite to win amongst a current field of just eight horses. The prop bet odds that he goes on to win the second leg of the Triple Crown have been set at -130, while the betting odds for the rest of the field have been set at +110.
There is definitely some inherent value in taking the field, especially when you consider that three of the next four finishers in the Kentucky Derby are back to try and win this time around. However, I would be very reluctant to bet against one of the best three-year olds we have seen in quite some time.
Just like Big Brown in 2008 and California Chrome last year, American Pharoah has been able to dominate the majority of his races he has run both as a juvenile and as a three-year old. Another huge plus is his tremendous burst of speed down the stretch that will only enhance his chances to master the slightly shorter distance of the Preakness as compared to the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Kentucky Derby.
2015 Preakness Stakes-Margin of Victory
Looking back at American Pharoah’s run in the Kentucky Derby, he may have waited a bit too long to turn on the juice in his one-length victory, or it could have been a matter of the quality of the horses he was running against in Firing Line and Dortmund.
All three of these horses will go at it again in this race, so I am expecting another tight finish. The top choice on the board in this prop is a margin of victory of 1 length-to-2 ¾ lengths at +200. That would probably be the safe bet, but in an effort to stretch the value a bit I am going with the +400 betting odds that we get a slightly closer margin of victory between ½ length and ¾ length.
If you really want to roll the dice with a battle right down to the wire, you can get +800 that the margin of victory is either by a neck or a head.
2015 Triple Crown Props
It is obvious that the only horse than can win a Triple Crown this season is American Pharoah, so the current betting odds for “yes” in this prop are set at +285 and the odds for “no” stand at -305.
Playing this prop is based on your confidence level in Saturday’s Preakness. I happen to strongly believe that American Pharoah is the best horse in a quality field and that he will once again run his race to keep his current five-race winning streak alive.
The next question is can he win a much longer and grueling race in early June in the 1 ½ Belmont Stakes to complete the three-race run? Most bettors would say no given just how high the odds are stacked against him accomplishing a feat that has only been done 11 times in the history of Triple Crown racing. You would have to go all the way back to 1978 to find the last time a horse won the Triple Crown with Affirmed claiming victory in all three events.
The one thing in American Pharoah’s favor to end this drought is that both Firing Line and Dortmund are running in the Preakness. Many times an owner of a top contender will hold their horse out of this race to train for the Belmont, but that is not the case this year. This creates enough of an edge for me to roll the dice on the +285 betting odds in this prop for my sports picks.