The Preakness is a good place to look for value in the props offered by sportsbooks — especially if you like the Derby winner. The public throws all of their money at one horse most years, so there is no value betting him in the pari-mutuel — at least not betting him straight up. Sometimes the props can offer different ways of looking at the race that can balance risk and reward more effectively. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting Preakness props on offer this year:
Which horse will finish last - I have written more than once this year that if I could bet on a horse to finish last it would definitely be Isn’t He Perfect. Now here’s my chance — and he’s not even the favorite in this prop. He is listed at +500 while Norman Asbjornson is at +450. Neither horse is any good, but Norman Asbjornson looks like Secretariat beside Isn’t He Perfect. The horse has run in three graded stakes this year, and has been totally irrelevant in each of them. It took him five tries to break his maiden last fall, and he has won just once in seven tries since then. His connections aren’t great compared to most of the other horses, either — trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal isn’t setting win records this year, and jockey Edgar Prado is a long way away from the great rider he once was. Simply put, this horse just doesn’t belong here. In my eyes this bet is a massive overlay at this price.
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Will a jockey with the letter Z in his name win — This one is a total no-brainer. Animal Kingdom is at 2/1 in the morning line, and he is likely to be lower by post time. His jockey is John Velazquez, so he certainly qualifies. The ‘yes’ in this prop pays +160. That means that for just a small added cost compared to just betting on Animal Kingdom to win you can bet on a package deal that includes him as well as Flashpoint (Velasquez), Sway Away (Gomez), Dance City (Dominguez), and Mr. Commons (Espinoza). If you like Animal Kingdom then you have to love the chance to hedge him with so many other horses at a very reasonable price compared to if you tried to hedge him yourself.
Preakness Win bet pari-mutuel payout — ‘over/under’ $22 — This one is another no-brainer in my eyes. As I see it Animal Kingdom and Mucho Macho Man are the clear class of the field, and Dialed In — if he can get the pace he needs — is next best. All three are 6/1 or less, so they will definitely pay less than $22. That means that the ‘under’ is the clear, strong choice. It only pays -130, though, so you may be able to do slightly better by placing win bets on all three horses as long as Animal Kingdom doesn’t get bet down too much from where he opens.
Will the Winning horse’s name begin with a letter from A to M? — You pay a big price for the ‘yes’ here — it’s at -450 — but you could still probably justify the bet at that price if you wanted to. There are only three horses that you are betting against if you take the ‘yes’ — Norman Asbjornson, Sway Away, and Shackleford. Norman Asbjornson is totally outclassed, and is easy to toss out. Sway Away is a nice enough horse, but seems to be over his head here. It would be an upset if he won. Shackleford has run two nice races in a row, but he’s a front runner, and being on the front is not a good thing at all in the Preakness — just one horse in the last 15 years has won the race after leading at the half mile marker. Every other horse fits in, so the chances of success here are very good.
Will Animal Kingdom win the Triple Crown? — The ‘no’ at -900 is still more than a fair price here, but if you really like Animal Kingdom then you could make a good argument that taking him at +500 is a good bet. He’s going to be no higher than 2/1 in this race. If he wins this race then the public will absolutely pound him in the Belmont — a distance he is bred to handle — and he will be at much lower odds than he is in the Preakness. If he wins this race and goes off at a very low price in the Belmont then the +500 here is better — and potentially much better — then you could get from betting on the horse here and parlaying the winnings on the Belmont. This would especially be attractive if you think that the public is going to bet Animal Kingdom down in this race to below his 2/1 morning line. If he went off at 1.8/1 in the Preakness then he’d have to go off at better than 3/2 in the Belmont to pay more than +500 on the parlay, and that just wouldn’t happen.
Doc’s Sports will have Preakness Stakes Picks for the 2011 Run for the Black-Eyed Susans on Saturday, May21. Doc has been studying the Preakness Stakes field since the Derby and we expect to bring in some very nice profits as the Preakness odds will yield great value. Preakness picks are only $20 and if you don’t show a profit Belmont Stakes picks are free!