Horse Racing Picks: Betting on Head-to-Head Matchups for the Preakness Stakes

David Schwab

Friday, May 15, 2015 11:59 AM GMT

The second jewel in this year’s Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing will be on the line late Saturday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course with the running of the 140th Preakness Stakes. Bovada has you covered for all the betting action including odds for a few of the top head-to-head matchups in this race.

While the main storyline in this year’s Preakness is American Pharoah’s bid to continue his pursuit of an elusive Triple Crown title after winning the Kentucky Derby, I am more excited about the fact that three of the next four horses in the final running order of that race are back in the field for the second leg to try and end his run. This presents some golden opportunities to cash-in on a few of those head-to-head matchup prop bet odds.

 

Divining Rod (11/10) vs. Danzig Moon (5/7)
This will be Divining Rod’s first race since winning the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 11. This followed a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in early March in the first of his two biggest races as a three-year old. This colt is trained by Arnaud Delacour and he is expected to be ridden by Javier Castellano. Quick out of the gate, the big question with this horse will be his stamina down the stretch in the longest race of his career.

That is one of the reasons that I am going with Danzig Moon in this matchup, but the main one hinges on a solid run in the Kentucky Derby. He went off at 21/1  betting odds from the fifth post and ran a strong race in a crowded field of 18 to finish fifth. Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux, this three-year old bounced back from a fourth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby to place second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland to punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby.

 

Bodhisattva (2/3) vs. Tale of Verve (6/5)
This is an undercard matchup between two horses making their debut in the Triple Crown racing series. Bodhisattva has had a very active racing career dating back to last August as a juvenile, but he made his biggest splash as a three-year old his last time out with a victory in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico on April 8. He is trained by Jose Corrales and, with Trevor McCarthy along for the ride this Saturday, this colt has an automatic advantage having already won at this track.

Tale of Verve was in the field for the Kentucky Derby but was scratched when he did not draw in from the also-eligible list. Trained by Dallas Stewart and ridden by Joel Rosario, my concern for this horse is a lack of experience in major stakes racing after running in four Maiden Special Weight races as a three-year old. There are only eight horses in the field for the Preakness, but the stage may be too big for Tale of Verve to avoid bringing up the rear against a very high level of competition.

 

Firing Line (20/23) vs. Dortmund (20/23)
I am not about to bet against American Pharoah to win this race as a 10/13 favorite on Bovada’s futures list, so the big question is which one of these two horses finishes second this time around. Firing Line had more juice down the stretch of the Kentucky Derby to finish a length in back of the winner, while Dortmund gave up the lead he held for most of the 1 ¼ mile run to finish another two lengths back in third.

When you look at the entire body of work for these two horses, you would have to think that Firing Line overachieved in the Derby at 12/1 odds verse second-favorite Dortmund, who went off at 3/1. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Firing Line’s only victory as a three-year old came in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby on March 22. Dortmund’s resume includes three victories as a juvenile and a trifecta of major stakes wins at Santa Anita in his three-year old campaign including a huge victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. At even betting odds, for my sports picks I am going with Dortmund to hold off Firing Line this time around to finish second to American Pharoah.