The Kentucky Derby ended in historic fashion with the disqualification of Maximum Security. It was a decision that cost a lot of people a lot of money. It also may have cost us a chance at back-to-back Triple Crown winners.
Justify swept horse racing’s three most notable races last year to give us our second Triple Crown winner in four years. Country House would have been either second or third on the odds board for the Preakness Stakes on May 18, but many would have viewed the horse as a longer shot than that to pick up the win. Maximum Security would have been the clear-cut favorite.
With Country House now sidelined with a cough and a lot of horses sitting out the Preakness, we have something of a forgettable field for the second leg of the Triple Crown. When that happens, we usually get some betting value out of the equation.
Early odds are out for the May 18 race and Improbable is the 2/1 favorite. War of Will is the second favorite at 3/1. After that, the odds range from 8/1 on Alwaysmining, Anothertwistafate, and Bourbon War, who would have been more appropriate running at Churchill Downs, to Laughing Fox at 20/1.
We’ll take a more detailed look at the odds and the race handicap for the Preakness next week after the post positions are drawn, but it is never a bad idea to get an early look at the field.
Improbable was one of the favorites that I faded in the Kentucky Derby. The Bob Baffert colt shook off the elements to have a decent run with a fifth-place finish, but it certainly wasn’t the result that jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. expected. There was a ton of jockey movement in the lead-up to the race and it’s fair to wonder if Baffert would have preferred somebody else, though Ortiz’s trip wasn’t the problem.
There were actually a lot of horses bunched together within five or six lengths of the eventual winner and Improbable was among them 3.5 lengths back. With top three finishers Country House, Code of Honor, and Tacitus out, it makes perfect sense that Improbable would be the favorite and should close the favorite also.
That hasn’t stopped Baffert from reuniting with old friend Mike Smith, who was in the irons on Cutting Humor for the Derby. That is sure to drive some betting action.
Win Win Win is a possibility for the Preakness, though he was not listed on the odds board at BetOnline as of May 8.
War of Will may be the colt to watch in this one. He finished seventh in the Derby at 15/1, but was saddled, pardon the pun, with the innermost post for the race. All things considered, it was still a pretty good trip for Mark Casse’s colt. It was also a scary race for jockey Tyler Gaffalione, as War of Will got obstructed by Maximum Security.
The fact that Casse and Gaffalione are considering going right back out there means that the horse is in good condition and is ready to run. The November transition from turf to dirt, coupled with a ninth in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the seventh at the Kentucky Derby, do make it hard to bet on this horse and a lot will likely stay away. Better odds should be had closer to post time.
Bourbon War is 8/1 and ran fourth to Maximum Security, Bodexpress, and Code of Honor in the Florida Derby. Considering Maximum Security and Code of Honor both hit the board, maybe that says something about Bourbon War. Also, he was second to Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream earlier in March. With Irad Ortiz Jr. freed up from Baffert’s decision to go with Smith, Mark Hennig should be reunited with the jockey that was on Bourbon War in those two races. He knows the horse. That cannot be understated.
The son of Tapit probably won’t be 8/1 on race day, so you could get a little bit of surplus value by tying up your money early.
Bodexpress probably won’t be 16/1 on race day with a weaker field and a good showing in the Florida Derby. That’s another one where you can grab a price right now. He also had a decent run in the Kentucky Derby, but was greatly affected by Maximum Security’s block on the inside lanes. Jockey Chris Landeros really pulled him back at that point. I would think a little bit of money comes in on him, simply because of the name recognition from the Derby. He’ll probably be somewhere in the 12/1 range, so there may be some value in pouncing early.
We’ll give you more of an update next week, but that’s some food for thought for now. Here are the odds as of May 8 from BetOnline:
106 Improbable +200
103 War of Will +300
109 Alwaysmining +800
107 Anothertwistafate +800
113 Bourbon War +800
108 Mr Money +1000
112 Owendale +1200
110 Signalman +1400
115 Bodexpress +1600
114 Laughing Fox +2000