Horse Racing

How to bet the 144th Preakness: Liam Durbin handicaps the second leg of the Triple Crown

The Kentucky Derby winner is usually the favorite in the Preakness. However, this year neither the horse that crossed the finish line first nor the horse awarded the win via disqualification are in the field for the Preakness. It would seem an ideal opportunity to make a statement about the controversial finish, but the horses’ handlers have other plans so we will have to wait to see how the rest of that story plays out.

War of Will was involved in the fracas in the Derby, mixing it up with Maximum Security before throwing in the towel and fading to eighth before being awarded seventh. Sadly for him, that is almost the exact same outcome he saw in the Louisiana Derby where he was sent off as a short-priced favorite. I expected a strong race from War of Will in the Derby and he had one until he found trouble in the stretch. With so few Derby horses in the Preakness field, he looks a reasonable second choice.


Improbable ran an even, respectable race in the Derby. He was never far out of it, but could get no closer than fifth at the wire. This decent outcome is consistent with his recent form, second only to Omaha Beach in a thrilling Arkansas Derby. Crossing fifth out of 19 horses, given all the traffic that unfolded late in the Derby, could have been much better with a clear shot. There is every reason to expect him to turn in another solid effort, and on paper he is the indicated horse.

It is hard not to notice Alwaysmining, who enters the race on a six-race win streak, culminating with the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park. The Federico Tesio has produced some Preakness winners and even more that hit the board. Not only did he win the Federico Tesio, but he won it by 11½ lengths at five cents on the dollar odds. The field was small that day but this is still an impressive win. Today is a step up in class, but he seems ready to take on the big league. He will probably be bet down below his morning-line odds, based on his win streak.


For some value, Anothertwistafate has finished first or second in five straight races. His two most recent efforts, the Sunland Derby and the Lexington, were both Grade 3 events, and good sized fields. In both of those, he overcame traffic problems and still just missed. He has the potential to improve Saturday.

War of Will and Improbable are the class of the race and should be in it to the end. War of Will takes a bit more of a leap of faith, since he has found trouble in two straight races. But Saturday’s field is smaller and his odds should stay above 4-1 right up to post time.

Win bet: War of Will

Exacta bet: Box War of Will, Improbable, Anothertwistafate and Bourbon War

Trifecta bet: Box War of Will, Improbable, Anothertwistafate and Bourbon War