Five tips for picking a Preakness winner
2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
New to the Preakness? Wondering how to pick a winner? Or at least how to sound like you know what you’re doing so you can impress your friends?
Not to worry.
Here are our five simple tips to finding an elusive Preakness winner (or sounding good while losing)!
- Talk Derby to me. Seventeen of the last 21 Preakness winners made their prior start in the Kentucky Derby. And for good measure, one of the four Preakness champs who didn’t run in the Derby — the great filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009 — made her prior start in the Kentucky Oaks, the day before the Derby at Churchill Downs; and she went off as the favorite in the Middle Jewel. Four Derby horses — Justify, Good Magic, Bravazo, and Lone Sailor — are scheduled to run in the Preakness.
- We’re not saying you had to win, but… Ten times in the last 21 years, the Derby winner has doubled up with a Preakness triumph. Remarkably enough, those Derby-Preakness killers have produced a sparkling flat-bet profit of more than 62 percent. Another four horses that finished in the top four in Kentucky won in Baltimore. We’re looking at you, Derby winner Justify (and maybe at you a little, runner-up Good Magic).
- Pace makes the race. The Kentucky Derby is known as a race which often has a very fast pace, which gives deep closers — horses running from the rear of the field — a fighting chance. But those horses often struggle in Baltimore. In fact, of the ten horses that closed into the pace to win the Derby in recent years, just two of them — Real Quiet in 1998, who was eight lengths back after a half-mile in the Derby, and I’ll Have Another, also eight lengths back after a half-mile in the 2012 Derby — managed to repeat in the Preakness. This year’s early Derby pace was very fast, but the second half of the race was quite slow. Justify was one of the horses doing the early work, but none of the closers made much headway against him.
- Wanted: Live longshots. Besides Rachel Alexandra, the three other horses that won the Middle Jewel without appearing in the Run for the Roses — Cloud Computing (2017), Bernardini (2006), and Red Bullet (2000) — all were talented but lightly raced sorts who’d arrived on the scene too late to make the Derby but were primed for a big run in the Preakness. Cloud Computing and Bernardini had made just three starts prior to the Preakness, and Red Bullet had made only four. Another place to look: Derby runners who ran credibly but were compromised by the pace or the trip they had. Of the four here who did not run in the Derby, the late-on-the-scene horse who fits, to some extent, the pattern here is Tenfold (20-1 morning line), who’s made just three starts. Another who passed on the Derby is the talented Quip, while Bravazo ran credibly on Derby day after a wide journey.
- Twofer. An exacta is a wager in which you must pick the first- and second-place finishers, and it can be a great way to turn a profit. Even though the median Preakness winner in the last 10 years has gone off at 5-2 — and you’re not going to get rich doing that — the median exacta payoff has been $93.40. That’s because in eight of those 10 years, a horse with odds of 10-1 or longer has finished either first or second. So give some thought to using an obvious horse or two along with some longshots, and don’t forget to box it; that way you cash if your horses come in one-two regardless of who’s first or second. You can’t toss Justify here, but look to back him up with some pricier horses to fatten your wallet.