There’s no Triple Crown on the line, but the Preakness Stakes is still very much worthy of your attention. A field of nine 3-year-olds will go postward Saturday at Pimlico to compete for the winner’s share of a $1.5 million purse.
This is a solid group, but I think there’s a standout. The question is, how do we extract value from this strong opinion? Let’s take a look.
Not getting cute
No. 8 Epicenter is the 6-5 morning-line favorite for good reason. He did everything but win the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, when he fended off third-place finisher Zandon but never saw 80-1 winner Rich Strike rally along the rail. Prior to that, he won a pair of prep races in Louisiana in impressive fashion.
Trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race twice, and both times, he had horses wheeled back on a short rest. Granted, those two horses (Curlin and Rachel Alexandra) were Hall of Famers, but it stands to reason Epicenter wouldn’t be here if he came out of the Derby poorly.
I like that he put forth a half-mile work this week at Churchill Downs, and I think this race sets up perfectly for him. If he sits on his preferred trip, which seems likely, I think he’ll be extremely tough to beat.
What to use underneath?
No. 1 Simplification is an easy horse to root for. He’ll run for the sixth time this season in the Preakness, which makes him one of the most battle-tested runners of this crop. He was fourth in the Kentucky Derby but has shown enough versatility to give jockey John Velazquez plenty of options.
I’ll also use the filly, No. 4 Secret Oath. She looked outstanding when winning the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and dispatching the likes of Nest and Echo Zulu. Speed Figure-wise, she doesn’t need to improve to be a contender. I think she’ll be overbet on the win end, but I can’t throw her out underneath.
Finally, No. 9 Skippylongstocking is 20-1 on the morning line but has stepped forward since being stretched out to two turns. Most recently, he was third in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial despite losing some ground turning for home. Compared to No. 5 Early Voting, I think he offers a lot of value, and he’s got a shot to hit the board at a big price.
Speaking of Early Voting, I’m against him here. He’s talented and fresh, but he sat an ideal trip in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial and still got run down. Perhaps I’d like him more if not for the presence of No. 7 Armagnac, who seems likely to go early. However, another speed horse in here isn’t good news for him. Early Voting isn’t without a shot, but I think he’s an underlay. If he beats me, he beats me.
Betting strategies for the Preakness Stakes
Epicenter is a single for me in multirace exotics, and I’m betting him accordingly in this race on its own. In addition to a win ticket, I’ll use him on top of Simplification, Secret Oath, and Skippylongstocking in straight exactas.
- $15 win: 8 ($15)
- $5 exactas: 8 w/1, 4, 9 ($15, $30)