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  • Betting guide for the 2019 Preakness Stakes 🏇

    Betting guide for the 2019 Preakness Stakes

    ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)



    Kentucky Derby winner Country House, runner-up Code of Honor, third-place finisher Tacitus and the disqualified Maximum Security won't be running at Pimlico, but that doesn't mean there isn't money to be made in Saturday's Preakness. Here's our breakdown of the field.

    Note: Horses listed in order of post position (with trainer, jockey and odds).
    Chris Fallica's guide to the field

    1. War of Will (Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione, 4-1)

    For the second consecutive Triple Crown race, War of Will draws the inside -- and it will be tough for him there. The best story Saturday would be for War of Will to win the Preakness after a near catastrophe in the Derby. I thought about having him prominently placed in my plays, but at a short price as the second choice, I am rethinking how much I will use him. If he can avoid being totally stuck inside, he can still win, as he has proved he can win from just off the pace. But I don't feel nearly as confident as I did before the draw. 2. Bourbon War (Mark Hennig/Irad Ortiz Jr., 12-1)

    Forget about getting anything close to that morning line -- this guy has steam horse written all over him as he's a new shooter to the race, exits a solid Florida Derby and will be stalking/closing into the pace, although the addition of blinkers muddles that some. I'm taking a more skeptical approach in the win markets and will solely be using underneath. Note that his trainer, Mark Hennig, has started four horses in the Triple Crown; one finished third (Eddington in the 2004 Preakness) and three finished fourth. If he wins, I lose. 3. Warrior's Charge (Brad Cox/Javier Castellano, 12-1)

    He'll be on the muscle early and my guess is he gets to the rail and beats War of Will to the punch. He, along with Owendale, are Brad Cox's first Triple Crown starters. He has run well at Oaklawn, but I don't know how excited I'd be about banking on the progeny of Munnings, under pressure from Alwaysmining, Market King, War of Will and probably Bodexpress, getting a 1 3/16. I think it's more likely he has been supplemented to the race as almost an uncoupled entry with Owendale. If he goes on and wins, great. But if he fades and Owendale wins, that's fine, too. I think he's a pace factor, but that's about it. I'll use him for third on my wider tickets, but that's about it. 4. Improbable (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith, 5-2)

    Improbable is a deserving favorite, but he hasn't won as a 3-year-old and there are questions about how far he wants to go. Still, the only time he didn't hit the board was in the Derby. His trainer has won this race seven times and this field is nowhere near as deep as the Derby. Bob Baffert has run 10 horses in the Preakness that didn't win the Derby; the only two that won the Preakness were beaten Derby favorites Point Given and Lookin at Lucky. Just two others even cracked the trifecta. Your beaten Derby favorite two weeks ago? Improbable. At worst, he should hit the board, and I'll be wheeling him in every spot in the trifecta and go price-hunting in other legs. But, yes, he certainly doesn't have to win. 5. Owendale (Brad Cox/Florent Geroux, 10-1)

    The upset winner of the Lexington Stakes at 13-1 should be moving late here, too. I hit on his "uncoupled entrymate" earlier, so I'm handicapping the race with that in mind. He was beaten soundly by War of Will in the Risen Star, but Owendale had no chance that day given his brutally wide trip. Jockey Florent Geroux hasn't had the best of luck in the Triple Crown, as he has had nine Triple Crown mounts, and only Gun Runner -- who was third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby -- has finished better than eighth. Geroux's mount Quip finished last in the 2018 Preakness as the third betting choice in the race. But this horse definitely fits here. And trainer Brad Cox has a knack of having horses run very well at big numbers in big races. I'm using. 6. Market King (D. Wayne Lukas/Jon Court, 30-1)

    Nobody loves the Triple Crown more than D. Wayne Lukas, who is sending a record 118th Triple Crown starter to post Saturday. While Lukas has surely pulled some huge upsets in Triple Crown races, this horse appears overmatched and is probably just a pace factor. 7. Alwaysmining (Kelly Rubley/Daniel Centeno, 8-1)

    The local horse has a good bit of speed, has won six in a row and has beaten Win Win Win at seven furlongs. While this isn't the deepest Preakness of all time, this route race isn't against a small field vs. Laurel Park horses. It's a huge step up in class, and with all of the other pace presence it is doubtful he hangs around for a piece. I'll have him in my "all" spot for third in trifectas on my wider tickets, but that's about it. 8. Signalman (Ken McPeek/Brian Hernandez Jr., 30-1)

    I'll be using him underneath on my ticket, given the expected fast pace and his closing capability. The only time in his seven-race career he has been off the board was at Gulfstream in the Fountain of Youth, which was his first race off a three-month layoff. So there's a definite excuse there. Ken McPeek has a tendency to pop at a price in Triple Crown races, as three of his four horses that have hit the board were at least 20-1, including Senior Investment in the 2017 Preakness. 9. Bodexpress (Gustavo Delgado/John Velazquez, 20-1)

    The maiden has been as close as anyone to Maximum Security, finishing second to him in the Florida Derby. In that same race, Bodexpress finished three lengths clear of Code of Honor, who finished third in the Derby. You can make a bit of an excuse for him in the Derby from Post 19, as he got caught up in what ultimately led to the disqualification of Maximum Security. It's not impossible he breaks maiden here, although I'm more inclined to simply play underneath. 10. Everfast (Dale Romans/Joel Rosario, 50-1)

    Pass. 11. Laughing Fox (Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana Jr., 20-1)

    The Derby winner might not be here, but we do have a horse that won on the first Saturday of May. Laughing Fox got up late to win the Oaklawn Invitational on Derby Day. He has finished well behind Improbable and Market King, and it's hard to see him factoring in anything other than plodding up for third or fourth in the trifecta and superfecta on his best day, even with what I expect will be a hot pace. 12. Anothertwistafate (Blaine Wright/Jose Ortiz, 6-1)

    Ran a credible second to Owendale in the Lexington after a tough trip and has never been worse than second in any of his five route races. I like the fact he has a versatile running style and has run well at Keeneland and Sunland in addition to his home base of Golden Gate. It should be noted that on conventional dirt tracks in stakes races, he has done his running from off the pace -- and that's what he probably will fall into here from Post 12. He can absolutely win on his best day, and at the very least is a must-use at a nice price underneath. 13. Win Win Win (Mike Trombetta/Julian Pimentel, 15-1)

    Like Bourbon War, he also adds blinkers after finishing 10th in the Derby. We've seen horses that finished 10th or worse in the Derby bounce back to win the Preakness -- see Louis Quatorze, Hansel and Snow Chief -- so it's doable. He also shares the top Beyer Speed Figure in the field with Improbable at 99; granted, Win Win Win did it at seven furlongs. One is the 5-2 favorite, the other is 15-1. Win Win Win has shown this distance is within his scope, as he was third as the favorite off a layoff in Tampa and was second to Vekoma in the Blue Grass after a rough trip. Trainer Mike Trombetta is quite familiar with the Mid-Atlantic circuit and should feel at home here. He's not impossible for the win spot, and I'll definitely be using him underneath.
    Fallica's suggested plays

    Here are some suggested plays. I will use a $1 base on exotics for easy math. Adjust to your handicapping and bankroll as desired. Good luck! Preakness Best Bets

    $5 WPS 5, 12, 13 $45
    $2 Exacta Box 4-5-8-12-13 $40
    $2 Exacta 4-5-12-13/2-4-5-8-9-11-12-13 $56
    $1 Exacta 2-4-5-8-9-11-12-13/4-5-12-13 $28
    $1 Trifecta 4/5-12-13/all $33
    $1 Trifecta 4/5-12-13/1-2-3-5-8-9-11-12-13 $21
    $1 Trifecta 5-12-13/4/all $33
    $1 Trifecta 5-12-13/4/1-2-3-5-8-9-11-12-13 $21
    $1 Trifecta 4/1-2-3-5-8-9-11-12-13/5-12-13 $21
    $1 Trifecta 5-12-13/1-2-3-5-8-9-11-12-13/4 $21

  • Gold's value bets

    Bourbon War -- At first glance, this son of Tapit can easily be overlooked because of what appeared to be a lackluster fourth place in the Florida Derby. But when you look closer, there is a lot to like.

    That fourth-place finish was behind the disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security; Bodexpress, who was one of the two horses interfered with by Maximum Security; and eventual Derby runner-up Code of Honor.



    The key for Bourbon War is to not be too far back. Two races ago in the Fountain of Youth, he was 11 lengths behind early and made a huge closing move down the stretch before narrowly losing to Code of Honor. If he is able to stay closer, he will definitely be a big threat under jockey Irad Ortiz.

    Alwaysmining -- The Preakness always presents a dangerous local horse, and he has been untouchable of late.

    Since moving to the barn of trainer Kelly Rubley last September, he dropped his first start on turf but then switched back to dirt. He then rattled off six consecutive victories, including blowout wins in Maryland's top 3-year-old races leading up to the Preakness. He has been so dominant that in his most recent race he went off at the lowest odds possible on any horse, 1-20.

    In that race he showed a little bit of versatility, as he was able to sit just off the front. The Preakness is a huge step up in class for him, as he has never run in a graded stakes race, but if jockey Daniel Centeno can again throttle down his fast early pace, he could be extremely dangerous.

    Win Win Win -- He was a horse some people thought could be a good value play in the Kentucky Derby but disappointed with his 10th-place finish. He managed to drop way too far back and was just not able to make up enough ground.

    This is another local horse who is returning home after a runner-up finish in the Blue Grass and third-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby. He managed to win twice in Maryland last fall and lost to Alwaysmining at the end of December.

    Once again his key is to stay as close to the leaders as possible, as the Preakness is difficult to win when you are too far back. Suggested plays

    With 13 horses, you can afford to spread your money around a bit. In exactas, put Alwaysmining and Bourbon War over Win Win Win, War of Will and Improbable. As a backup, use War of Will over Alwaysmining, Bourbon War, Improbable and Win Win Win.
    More handicapping tidbits

    • In the past four instances where the Derby winner did not start the Preakness, the winner of the race was at least 5-1. Coincidentally, the most recent time the Derby winner didn't start the Preakness, it was a Bob Baffert trainee, Cavonnier, who was sent off as the favorite at 9-5 and finished fourth. Cavonnier was Baffert's first Preakness starter.
    • The post-time favorite in the Preakness has finished first or second in 16 of the past 21 years, and 16 of the past 21 Preakness Stakes were won by one of the top two betting choices.
    • The only time both the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness winner were sent off at double-digit odds was 2011, when Animal Kingdom won the Derby at 21-1 and Shackleford won the Preakness at 13-1. Country House just won the Derby at better than 60-1.
    • In the past six years, 10 of the 18 horses to finish in the trifecta were at least 9-1 and six were at least 15-1.
    • The third choice in the wagering hasn't won the Preakness since Silver Charm in 1997. And only one of the past nine horses to be the third choice in the wagering has finished in the top three (Ride on Curlin, second in 2014). The third choice on the morning line is Anothertwistafate, although I'm guessing by post time ether Bourbon War or Alwaysmining will be the third choice. Last year, Quip finished last as the third choice in the race.
    • Since 1970, eight times a Derby horse flopped (finishing worse than fifth) and bounced back to win the Preakness at often very tempting odds. Bodexpress (13th), War of Will (seventh) or Win Win Win (ninth) would add their name to the list should one win Saturday.
    • Think it's as easy as Improbable over War of Will for the exacta? Think again. The last time the favorite won and the second choice ran second in the Preakness was 1981, when favored Pleasant Colony won and second choice Bold Ego ran second. Note there have been instances since then where the second choice won and the favorite ran second, as in 2012, when second choice I'll Have Another beat favored Bodemeister.
    • Jose Ortiz (Anothertwistafate) has had 11 Triple Crown mounts, and each of his past five has finished in the superfecta: one win (Tapwrit at the 2017 Belmont), two seconds, one third and one fourth. Ortiz rode Good Magic to a fourth-place finish in last year's Preakness.
    • Irad Ortiz Jr. (Bourbon War) has had 10 mounts in Triple Crown races. Half of them have finished in the superfecta, including his only win, on Creator in the 2016 Belmont Stakes. His only Preakness mount was aboard Lone Sailor in last year's race (finished fifth).

    -- Fallica

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