2018 Preakness Stakes Betting Odds & Free Picks

Last Updated: 2018-05-16

Twenty-three horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Will Justify become the 24th? The three-year-old colt is the favorite to take down the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, as a field of eight horses is expected to take on what should be a mucky and muddy track in state of Maryland. Of those 23 horses that have won the first two races, 12 have gone on to make history. We’ll have to wait and see if Justify has a chance at history in the Belmont Stakes next month, but he certainly should if this race plays out as expected.

The Preakness Stakes is the short race, so this is one that is all about power. It isn’t about endurance like the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont Stakes, the longest of the three Triple Crown races. While this is certainly longer than a sprint at 1 3/16 miles, or 9.5 furlongs, this race certainly takes less endurance. We’ll get some kind of idea about the track on Friday with a full card that includes the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.

Since American Pharoah made history as the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, we’ve had a different winner for the Preakness than we had for the Belmont. Cloud Computing won last year’s Preakness after Always Dreaming won the Derby and Exaggerator won the Preakness in 2016 after Nyquist won the Derby. California Chrome won the first two legs in 2014, but Tonalist was the winner at Belmont Park to deny history.

Posts were drawn on Wednesday evening and the odds were updated, so here is a look at the horses that will be running the 2018 Preakness Stakes:

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Quip F. Geroux R. Brisset 12/1
2 Lone Sailor I. Ortiz Jr. T. Amoss 15/1
3 Sporting Chance L. Contreras D. Wayne Lukas 30/1
4 Diamond King J. Castellano J. Servis 30/1
5 Good Magic J. Ortiz C. Brown 3/1
6 Tenfold V. Espinoza S. Asmussen 20/1
7 Justify M. Smith B. Baffert 1/2
8 Bravazo L. Saez D. Wayne Lukas 20/1

This is a star-studded field of jockeys and trainers, but there are only two stars with four legs based on the odds. Justify, the winner of the Kentucky Derby by 2.5 lengths, became the first horse since 1882 to win the first leg of the Triple Crown without racing as a two-year-old. The Curse of Apollo is no more, well, unless it is another 136 years until a horse accomplishes that feat. Justify had no issues with the muddy track at Churchill Downs and may get another chance to run in the mud this week. Justify was the favorite throughout Derby week and showcased why with the impressive run.

The list of Preakness winners for trainer Bob Baffert is something. His first one was Silver Charm in 1997, followed by Real Quiet in 1998, Point Given in 2001, War Emblem in 2002, Lookin At Lucky in 2010, and then American Pharoah in 2015. Fifty-two-year-old jockey Mike Smith ended a 12-year Kentucky Derby drought with this year’s win. His lone Preakness win came all the way back in 1993 and was probably his biggest win until he won the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Prairie Bayou was the name of that horse, who was second in the Kentucky Derby and then 13th in the Belmont. Justify is certainly ahead of the pack, as the odds would suggest, and it would be a stunner if he failed to hit the board. A win is obviously likely as well. The 1/2 price isn’t expected to be around long, as many believe Justify closes in the 1/5 range.

Good Magic was one of my favorite picks for the Derby, but he came up 2.5 lengths short. That solid second-place run has vaulted Good Magic into the second favorite at 3/1 this week. Good Magic’s sire, Curlin, won the Preakness back in 2007. Good Magic has certainly blazed a path of his own, with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year and a win in the Blue Grass Stakes, one of the races prior to the Kentucky Derby.

Jockey Jose Ortiz doesn’t have a win in the Preakness, but trainer Chad Brown does and it came last year. Brown is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the Preakness since Baffert did it in 2001 and 2002. He did that for the first time in 1997 and 1998. D. Wayne Lukas, who has two horses in the field, did it in 1994 and 1995 and Tom Bohannon did it in 1992 and 1993, so it isn’t all that rare, but it has still been quite a while. To see Good Magic run as well as he did in the muck and mud last time out is a good omen for this race. Considering the long drop in odds between Good Magic and the third favorite, he, like Justify, should hit the board.

Behind the favorites, there are a lot of interesting horses. Many haven’t proven a whole lot in Grade 1 races, which is why they are viewed as long shots, but we have some strong jockeys, like Javier Castellano atop 30/1 shot Diamond King and Victor Espinoza on 20/1 shot Tenfold. Diamond King just hasn’t run enough big races, but Castellano did win last year on Cloud Computing, a horse that was second in the Gotham Stakes, third in the Wood Memorial, and hasn’t finished higher than fourth in a graded race since the Preakness. Tenfold, a Steve Asmussen colt, also sired by Curlin, was fifth in the Arkansas Derby, hence the long odds here. Some will probably want to back Espinoza, but winning the Preakness with American Pharoah, California Chrome, and War Emblem isn’t exactly shocking.

Quip drew a tough post position as the third favorite at 12/1. American Pharoah won from the rail, but he was clearly one of the most spectacular horses in the history of the sport. The last winner from the first spot prior to American Pharoah was Tabasco Cat in 1994. Before that, we have to go all the way back to Bally Ache in 1960. This is really not the draw that Florent Geroux and Rodolphe Brisset wanted to see. Quip has some serious potential, despite the bad draw. He was second in the Arkansas Derby to Magnum Moon and sat out the Kentucky Derby. A win in the Tampa Bay Derby had some wondering if the colt would be at Churchill, but sights were set on the shortest of the Triple Crown races.

Bravazo is a pretty interesting colt in this race. Bravazo could very well ride the line created by Justify to get inside the field and has a decent jockey in Luis Saez that should be able to pounce if that opportunity comes. Bravazo is one of four horses that also ran the Kentucky Derby, with Justify, Good Magic, and Lone Sailor as the others. Bravazo ran fairly well in sixth, but never really had a good chance to challenge. If you’re looking to spice up an exacta or a trifecta, Bravazo may have some value.

With rain in the forecast basically all week at Pimlico, this 141st running of the Preakness Stakes may end up being pretty cut and dry. If you’ll recall, the 2015 Preakness was basically run in a downpour and the field was no match for the best horse in American Pharoah. With how well Good Magic ran in the mud at Churchill, those two finishing 1-2 makes a ton of sense. The other horse to hit the board is an interesting question. Because Bravazo had a decent run in the mud in the Derby and can ride Justify’s tail to the inside, it wouldn’t be a bad gamble to back Bravazo to slide up into the top three.

It doesn’t look like it will be a big day on the payout board, but we should get to see Justify take a run at history at Belmont Park in three weeks with some rested colts looking to prevent exactly that.

 

-END OF 2018 PREVIEW-

 

Legendary trainer Todd Pletcher spent his career always dreaming of a Triple Crown winner. Well, now he’s got one race down and he’s got his sights set on this week’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, which serves as the second leg of the Triple Crown. This will be the 142nd edition of the race in Baltimore, Maryland and features the top three-year-olds in racing.

It’s always interesting to see the field for the Preakness because some the Kentucky Derby participants store up their resources for the Belmont Stakes next month at Belmont Park. Always Dreaming will have some stiff competition from Classic Empire, Lookin At Lee, and Gunnevera, who all ran at Churchill Downs. Classic Empire finished just off the board in fourth place, but helped out for those that bet the superfectas. Lookin At Lee was a surprise place finisher and Gunnevera finished seventh, as the top contender for Antonio Sano got caught up in the crowd.

The Desormeaux brothers, Kent and Keith, took down this race last year with Exaggerator. Exaggerator was among the favorites in the Kentucky Derby, which was won by Nyquist, so that killed any chance of getting a Triple Crown winner in back-to-back years.

With post positions drawn, here are the initial lines as of May 17:

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Multiplier J. Rosario B. Walsh 30/1
2 Cloud Computing J. Castellano C. Brown 12/1
3 Hence F. Geroux S. Asmussen 20/1
4 Always Dreaming J. Velazquez T. Pletcher 4/5
5 Classic Empire J. Leparoux M. Casse 3/1
6 Gunnevera M. Smith A. Sano 15/1
7 Term of Art J. Ortiz D. O’Neill 30/1
8 Senior Investment C. Hall K. McPeek 30/1
9 Lookin At Lee C. Lanerie S. Asmussen 10/1
10 Conquest Mo Money J. Carreno M. Hernandez 15/1

Always Dreaming is the clear favorite at 4/5 coming off of his win in the Kentucky Derby. That was trainer Todd Pletcher’s second career win in the Kentucky Derby. His first came with Super Saver in 2010. Super Saver went on to finish eighth in the Preakness with jockey Calvin Borel. The hope is that things will go better for Always Dreaming, who is a foal of Bodemeister, who was the runner-up in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. It was a very wet and muddy track that Always Dreaming won on in Louisville and really pulled away from the field late for his fourth career win in six races.

We’ll have to see how jockey John Velazquez plays it in the shortest of the three Triple Crown races. His win at the Kentucky Derby was his second, with the first coming on Animal Kingdom in 2011. Always Dreaming’s time was pretty comparable to those of other recent winners, in spite of the muddy conditions. Velazquez has two previous wins at the Belmont, but has not won this race in his career.

A very disappointing effort from Classic Empire in the muck and mud at Churchill Downs wouldn’t be erased with a big performance here, but it would certainly ease the pain for Mark Casse and Julien Leparoux. Classic Empire came into his three-year-old season with a lot of expectations after winning the Breeders’ Cup Futurity Stakes and also the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. There’s no denying the strength and bloodline of this colt, as the offspring of Pioneerofthe Nile, who was the sire of American Pharoah, which is probably the most dominant horse most of us have seen in our lifetimes.

It was a really tough trip for Classic Empire at Churchill, as conditions and the fight for the rail took a toll on him. He had some swelling that limited his vision coming out of the race. The price is still going to be low on a horse with such a spectacular pedigree and a talented rider, so you’ll have to weigh your own risk-reward here. A much smaller field takes some of the volatility out of the race and it’s hard to say that Classic Empire is an underdog to any horse based on his accolades and pedigree. His price is 3/1 and he’s the only other horse in single digits.

Was Lookin At Lee’s run a perfectly-timed anomaly or did people overlook the three-year-old colt? Corey Lanerie has orchestrated some great rides in his time and that was one of them for trainer Steve Asmussen. The question is whether or not he can have as strong of a trip without as many conditions going in his favor. Judging by the opening odds for this race at 10/1, the linemakers are pretty skeptical. It’s pretty easy to see why, considering he wasn’t considered much of a factor coming into the Derby and hadn’t had the most impressive Road to the Kentucky Derby performance.

We’re rooting for whichever horse(s) will make us money, but it’s hard not to be pulling for Gunnevera at 15/1 this weekend. The made-for-TV movie that has been the life of trainer Antonio Sano, who was kidnapped not once, but twice in his native Venezuela, deserves a storybook run in a Triple Crown race. Jockey Mike Smith didn’t get off to a good run as a 15/1 shot in the Derby. Neither did McCraken, Gormley, and Irish War Cry, who finished eighth, ninth, and 10th, respectively. None of them are racing this weekend, but Sano is taking another shot with Gunnevera, who won the Fountain of Youth Stakes during the Road to the Kentucky Derby and ran third in the Florida Derby.

It is a bit surprising to not see Victor Espinoza’s name on the list this week. He won the 2014 Preakness on California Chrome and the 2015 Preakness on American Pharoah. It’s also a bit surprising to not see a Bob Baffert horse in the race. Baffert has six career wins in this race and only trails R. Wyndham Walden from the 1800s in terms of the most career wins in this race. D. Wayne Lukas, who also has six career wins, is not represented either, though he is 81 years old now.

We’ve covered those that ran in the Derby, except for Hence, who doesn’t have much of a shot in this race. Who has a shot among those that did not run at Churchill? Those horses are Lancaster Bomber, Term of Art, Multiplier, Senior Investment, Cloud Computing, and Conquest Mo Money. The most popular pick will be Conquest Mo Money, one of the foals of Uncle Mo. Royal Mo was forced into retirement with an injury, so Conquest Mo Money heads into the field for Miguel Hernandez. CMM was second at the Arkansas Derby to Classic Empire, one spot ahead of Lookin At Lee. At the Sunland Derby, a Grade 3 race, he finished second to Hence. Consistency certainly appears to be a problem, but there’s a bloodline and some decent results here. This will be the fifth race of 2017 for Conquest Mo Money, though, which is reason for some pause. At 15/1, he’ll have to come from the outside.

The other newcomer with a decent chance is Cloud Computing at 12/1. The Chad C. Brown colt will be ridden by Javier Castellano, a past winner of the Preakness atop Bernardini in 2006. Cloud Computing ran a strong third at the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last month and finished behind Irish War Cry and Battalion Runner. He was second in the Gotham Stakes behind J Boys Echo, who ran in the Derby. There will be some long odds on this horse, though.

It looks like this will be a chalk-heavy race, with a head-to-head duel between Always Dreaming and Classic Empire. However you set your bets up for this race, make sure you have those two hitting the board in some capacity, likely with Guennevera or Conquest Mo Money. Lookin At Lee didn’t grade as well as several horses in the race and seemed to be a little fortunate with the track conditions and the early start that interrupted some of the big contenders.

 

 

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