(NOTE: To download Liam's full cheat sheet for all of Saturday's races, click here. Following is his analysis on the Preakness Stakes.)
There are always lots of hard luck stories in the Kentucky Derby, and some of those hard luck horses come to the Preakness looking to set the record straight. Several of those guys are here to take on Orb. And a handful more Derby grumblers are skipping the Preakness to set their sights on the Belmont. However, recent history shows that the Derby winner tends to back up the Derby win and beat most if not all of those Derby finishers again. Orb should follow suit and run well in the Preakness. Orb’s win was no fluke. He dominated the Derby. He had a lot to overcome in the Derby, and did so impressively, so there is no reason to bail on him now.
Of the hard luck Derby horses, Will Take Charge had the biggest helping of bad luck two weeks ago. He made a bold move alongside Orb but hit traffic and lost his momentum. He could certainly have hit the board, and some think he could have won. Oxbow and Goldencents were part of the hot Derby pace, and both come to the Preakness expecting a more favorable, reasonable pace. Of these two, Oxbow ran a better race in the Derby. He was forwardly placed early, and still held on to be a respectable sixth. Goldencents will likely try to wire the race, but will do so at the most reasonable pace possible. There is not a lot of speed in the race, but he will still struggle with the Preakness distance. Mylute took advantage of the fast pace in the Derby to close well late. He should take the same approach.
Of the newcomers, Govenor Charlie and Departing both come to the Preakness with just one loss. Both have a classic stalking style, which should give them no excuses. They should be able to stay close to an honest but reasonable pace.
What to bet
Orb is the indicated horse to win. He has given no reason to bet around him other than the fact that he will be a heavy favorite. His post position should not be a problem since he will gladly concede the early lead. If the front runners dish out a softer pace than he saw in the Derby, that should be no problem either. He has the ability to lay closer to the pace than he did in the Derby. Finding value will have to come from place and show positions.
In recent years, the Preakness trifecta has had lots of Derby starters in it. This year should be no exception. This year’s newcomers will get lots of betting, but they have not proven themselves against top horses, as many of the Derby starters have. The horses that finished up the track in the Derby will be good value. Bet Orb to win. Key 1 over 2,5,7,9 in exacta and trifecta wagers. Wheel 1 over 2,7 over 2,5,7,9 over 2,5,7,9 in superfecta wagers.
Will Take Charge will be most overlooked in the betting because his eighth-place finish in the Derby looks worse than it actually was. Orb should finish ahead of him again, but he has a shot at reversing the outcome with a great trip and another strong finish. His odds may stay near 12:1 due to the newcomers drawing some bets. At that price, he’s a good value.
Liam Durbin is owner/handicapper for e-ponies.com.