05/19/2012 11:23 AM
Preakness Stakes odds: Best long shot bets on the board
The general consensus among racing pundits is that the more entries in the Preakness the weaker the top horses.
A couple of days ago as many as 16 horses were strong considerations for the race. Now there are just 11 in the field, some scared off by Bodemeister’s speed, and others who just don’t feel they can come back in two weeks off the Kentucky Derby.
Since 1984 only three horses have won the Preakness that didn’t race in the Derby. That would mean that I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, Creative Cause or Went the Day Well have the best chance on Saturday.
While Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another figure to take most of the money at the windows, here are a few horses that can steal this race at a price.
Creative Cause (+600); Jockey: Joel Rosario
You’ll most likely get around 8-1 when the race goes off on this one. Creative Cause finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby, the first time he’d ever missed the board. Trainer Mike Harrington’s charge has raced against the best and never lost by more than a length until the Run for the Roses.
Frankly, he was due for a stinker, and if fifth in the Derby is to be considered a bad race, then there’s still plenty left in the tank for the Cause who rallied home eight wide.
Take away the traffic that Creative Cause endured in the race and the stretch drive would have been much easier. Creative Cause has also beaten Bodemeister and has posted a Beyer figure of 102. That type of race could put him in the winner’s circle here.
Teeth of the Dog (+1500); Jockey: Joe Bravo
Went off a 53-1 in his last race, taking third in the Wood Memorial. When Bravo asked the Dog to run he did and he never stopped. His final furlong was a pedestrian 13 seconds but if he gets off to a better start and the top guns fail to fire this one could surprise. Teeth of the Dog beat Went the Day Well in February as the 2-1 favorite.
Cozzetti (+3000); Jockey: Jose Lezcano
A decided longshot, Cozzetti is the son of Cozzene who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1985. While there isn’t too much to hang your hat on with this one he is trained by Dale Romans who won this race last year with Shackleford and finished second two years ago with First Dude. Obviously Romans knows a little about this race.
Romans decided against starting Dullahan in the Preakness and will enter him in the Belmont. So, he’s giving Cozzetti a shot here.
The negatives: It took Cozzetti three tries to break his maiden and he’s winless in four starts since. His Beyer figures stink and Bodemeister walloped him in the Arkansas Derby.
Preakness Stakes handicapping: Three betting trends of note
Trends are a valuable part of any handicapping and that’s especially true in horse racing. To help you uncover the winner of the Preakness, here are three valuable Preakness Stakes trends to consider:
Kentucky Derby winner
Unless something changes drastically between now and post time, the Derby winner won’t be favored in the Preakness — a reasonably uncommon occurrence. More interesting than that, though, is the consideration of whether I’ll Have Another can head to the Belmont with a chance to end the Triple Crown drought.
Over the last 31 years we have seen 10 Derby winners take the Preakness. That’s just under a third of all races — roughly the same percentage of races won by the favorites. In the last seven years we have seen just one — Big Brown in 2008. Animal Kingdom came as close as any last year, but didn’t quite have enough ground left at the end when he was gaining on Shackleford.
While I’ll Have Another likely won’t be the post-time favorite most Derby winners are. In other words, the Derby favorite doesn’t really seem to have a particular advantage in this race over the medium term.
Horses that didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby
On the surface it might seem tempting to pick a horse that didn’t run in the Derby to win the Preakness. After all, they are well rested while Derby entrants are just two weeks removed from by far the toughest race of their careers.
The truth is that betting on the fresher horses is usually a terrible idea. In the last 28 years we have seen just three fresh horses win the Preakness. Looking at the last 15 editions of the Preakness we have seen 91 new entrants. Only three of those have won — just over three percent. The other 12 winners have come from among the 77 horses who were also in the Derby. That’s a rate of 16 percent. That means that it is five times more likely for a Derby entrant to win the Preakness than it is for a fresh horse to do so.
Things get even more bleak when you consider the last two fresh horses to win the Preakness — Bernardini and Rachel Alexandra. The former was a highly-touted, wildly-impressive colt who could very well have been favored had he gone in the Derby. The latter was the best filly of her generation — and several before and since. So, they were both exceptional horses.
Most fresh entrants in the Preakness are a long way from exceptional. The group this year is weak even compared to most recent groups. The chances of one of these horses breaking through and winning clearly exists, but it is tiny.
On the lead
Bodemeister is going to try to win wire-to-wire and the rest of the horses are going to try to chase him down — with I’ll Have Another likely leading that charge reasonably close to the leader. The lead shouldn’t be a terribly tough place to be in this race — the Preakness is shorter than the Derby and the set-up of the turns at Pimlico makes it tougher for horses to gain momentum by going wide.
Historically, it hasn't been a good strategy to be on the lead. In the last 52 years only five horses have wired the field. In the last 15 years, Rachel Alexandra is the only horse to be on the lead at the half-mile mark that went on to win.
That seems o be particularly bad news for the favorite here. Shackleford was second last year and close to the lead the whole way before taking over on the final turn. Others have essentially contested the early pace before winning as well.
There is one other major factor to consider — the types of horses that typically lead. Most often the front-runners are horses that have speed as their only trick. They know they aren’t likely good enough to win, so they hope they can get away up front and hold on to steal the win. It’s a low percentage strategy, but often the best bet the horses have.
Bodemeister is not your typical speed horse. On top of his exceptional speed he has serious stamina bred into him as well. He did fade late in the Derby, but not compared to the other speed horses — Trinniberg pushed Bodemeister early on and wound up 30 lengths back at the wire. Most speed horses are on a suicide mission and they know it, but Bodemeister is different.
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