Potential Rain? Small Field? No Matter: Justify to Stand Tall

Kevin Stott

Thursday, May 17, 2018 3:23 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 17, 2018 3:23 PM UTC

Saturday's Preakness Stakes, like the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, might be run in the rain. But with such a small field, does anyone really have a chance of beating Justify?

Preakness Stakes: Preview, Prediction & Picks

What: 143rd Preakness Stakes (Grade I); Preakness Stakes website link
Race Type: Thoroughbred
When: Saturday
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore; Pimlico Race Course website link
Inaugurated: 1873
Distance: 13⁄16 miles (9.5 furlongs; 1,900 meters)
Surface: Dirt
Track: Left-handed
Qualification: 3-year-olds
Weight: Colts-Geldings: 126 pounds, Fillies: 121 pounds
Field Size: 8
Race Number: 13
Race Post Time: 6:48 pm ET (approximately)
Purse: $1,500,000
Track Record: Secretariat, 1973 (1:?53.00)
TV: NBC (Coverage starts 5 p.m. ET)
Undercard TV: NBCSN (Coverage starts 2:30 p.m. ET)
Internet: NBCSN link
Radio: HorseRacingRadioNetwork.net link
Weather forecast: Rain very likely, possibly over 1 inch with potential localized flooding; High around 66°, Winds ENE around 16 mph, 83% Humidity; Baltimore Doppler Radar Link
Track Conditions: Pimlico Race Course Track Conditions
Preakness Stakes Supplemental Entry Fee: $200,000
Black-Eyed Susan Stakes: Friday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN)

2017 Preakness Opening Odds, Closing Odds, Results, Payouts

Last 20 Preakness Winners, Post Positions, Post Odds, Payouts

2017—Cloud Computing (2) 13.40/1 $25.80
2016—Exaggerator (5) 2.60/1 $7.20
2015—American Pharoah (1) 0.90/1 $3.80
2014—California Chrome (3) 1/2 $3.00
2013—Oxbow (6) 15.4/1 $32.80
2012—I’ll Have Another (9) 3.2/1 $8.40
2011—Shackleford (5) 12.6/1 $27.20
2010—Lookin At Lucky (7) 5/2 $6.80
2009—Rachel Alexandra (13) 1.8/1 $5.60
2008—Big Brown (6) 1/5 $2.40
2007—Curlin (4) 3.40/1 $8.80
2006—Bernardini (8) 12.90/1 $27.80
2005—Afleet Alex (12) 3.30/1 $8.60
2004—Smarty Jones (7) 0.70/1 $3.40
2003—Funny Cide (9) 1.90/1 $5.80
2002—War Emblem (8) 2.80/1 $7.60
2001—Point Given (11) 2.30/1 $6.60
2000—Red Bullet (4) 6.20/1 $14.40
1999—Charismatic (6) 8.40/1 $18.80
1998—Real Quiet (10) 2.50/1 $7.00

Damper on Preakness?

The Weather Channel forecast for Saturday looks even gloomier than the record-setting rain that fell on Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, but the smaller field with many potential contenders for Justify (107, 104, 103, 101 Beyer Speed Numbers) like Bolt d'Oro, My Boy Jack, Vino Rosso and Audible all bypassing The Run For The Black-Eyed Susans for a potential run at the Belmont Stakes, this could be a proverbial walk in the park for the heavy favorite. So should we expect the iconic weathervane at Pimlico to be painted green, white and black this year?

Usually the second-most bet on race in North America, the Preakness Stakes perennially offers fewer betting options to serious or casual sports gamblers with smaller fields and many of the better 3-year-old thoroughbreds being held out of the race by owners-breeders-trainers because some don’t like the quick 2-week turnaround from the Derby, some may be Injured or just not ready with some just sour they didn’t win at Churchill Downs and this year, maybe thinking they would have had little chance of beating Justify. Hype is hype, but the eyes don’t lie and all of these people involved saw what you and I saw in the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby and what jockey Mike Smith (5,440 career wins) saw after Justify won the a flat-Mile $56,000 first condition allowance race at Santa Anita Park on March 11, deeming the Kentucky-bred colt by Scat Daddy’s performance as ”extremely impressive” in a race he rolled in and won by 6½ lengths against four other sophomores.

Like most, this Preakness will be a tough one in which to try to find perceived value, with Justify opening up as a heavy 1/2 morning line favorite with the knee-jerk concept of “trying to beat him” just a little too much for the daily racebook bettor as well as the casual horse racing bettor. And history tells us that those 1/2 odds are only going to get worse for the heavy chestnut-colored chalk who will be looking for his 5th win in 5 starts — none as a 2-year-old. Maybe trying to use the No. 7 Justify in a Pick 4 or in some modest exotics with Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic, Quip, Bravazo and maybe Tenfold and/or Lone Sailor is a route for your Preakness picks. This seems like a race to be conservative when approaching and maybe choosing the Futures Prop market and backing Justify early to win at Belmont Park (Even to Win 2018 Belmont Stakes, Bovada) might be a value-oriented way to back this horse who has already proven that he can win on an off track and, with his deceptively blazing speed, will be nearly impossible to catch should he get his nose ahead of the race's other seven hopeful horses.

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Bob Baffert's favorite leg of the #TripleCrown? Take a wild guess... #Preakness pic.twitter.com/IEXCepYmVs

— Preakness Stakes (@PreaknessStakes) May 17, 2018

Free Picks

Black-Eyed Susan Stakes/Preakness Stakes Double Pick: 9-7 (Sara Street-Justify)
Preakness Stakes Winner Pick: 7 (Justify)
Preakness Stakes Exacta Pick: 7-5 (Justify-Good Magic)
Preakness Stakes Trifecta Pick: 7-5-1 (Justify-Good Magic-Quip)
Preakness Stakes Superfecta Pick: 7-5-1-8 (Justify-Good Magic-Quip-Bravazo)
Preakness Stakes Pentafecta Pick: 7-5-1-8-6 (Justify-Good Magic-Quip-Bravazo-Tenfold)
Preakness Stakes Best Longshot Win Pick: 1 (Quip, 12/1)

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