2013 Preakness Stakes Betting Tips
by Trevor Whenham - 5/7/2013
As we get ready to bet the second jewel of this year’s Triple Crown, we need to be focused on finding the winner. These four Preakness betting tips will help you make a winning bet on May 18:
Don’t just default to the Derby winner
I want to see a Triple Crown winner more than I want to see anything else in sports. That can blind me to all horses other than the one who was just wearing roses. For many years I had a strict policy. I made just one Preakness bet no matter what — the Derby winner to win. At times that has been a profitable approach — even over longer periods — but it isn’t generally a strong approach. For every time you get to bet on a horse like Big Brown or I’ll Have Another, you also end up with a real dud like Giacomo or Monarchos.
Winning the Derby is a very tough challenge. Horses have to overcome a massive, incredibly loud crowd that can easily spook them and cause them to bolt — as it did this year for Vyjack. They have to deal with many more horses than they are used to, and those horses can act more like walls than anything else at times. This year, Will Take Charge was making a nice move down the stretch, but he ran into a rapidly-reversing Verrazano, and all momentum was lost. They have to run further than they have ever run before and further than most are really bred to handle. They also may have to deal with a strange pace scenario, like this year and the suicidal early speed of Palace Malice. Sometimes the horse that can overcome all that and win is the best horse in the field. Sometimes, though, it’s just the horse that was in the best situation to benefit from the circumstances on the day (I’m talking to you, Mine That Bird).
Before you automatically and blindly pick Orb this year, you need to evaluate just how good he really is and whether he really deserves your attention and support. His win was very impressive, and he was favored going into the race, so you can’t argue that his win was a fluke. He did benefit from some things in this race, though — that crazy early pace set the race up perfectly for a closer like Orb, the sloppy track didn’t suit a lot of horses as well as it did Orb, and Joel Rosario was able to find a perfect path through the crowd. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to bet Orb n the Preakness — just make sure that you are doing it because he is the best horse, not just because he won his last race.
A bad Derby can be overcome
Sometimes a horse with high hopes can have a truly disastrous Derby. Goldencents is a perfect example this year. He needs to be on the lead early on, so when Palace Malice ran away early on, Goldencents chased him. No horse could have held on under that strain, and Goldencents faded to 17th. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he was a horrible, overrated horse. The pace scenario doomed him. On a better day with a more honest pace, Goldencents could again be competitive. History provides plenty of examples of horses that bounce back from a bad Derby to make history in the Preakness. Point Given was horrible in Kentucky in 2001 then dominated the Preakness and the Belmont. Afleet Alex didn’t fire on Derby day in 2005 then won the last two legs. Hansel was the heavy favorite in the 1991 Derby, but he struggled badly and was 10th. He also won the last two legs. There are more, but you get the point.
I’m not saying that Goldencents or Itsmyluckyday or Will Take Charge will win their next two races. I’m just saying you can’t safely assume that they won’t.
Don’t fall in love with fresh horses
The Preakness is typically made up of a group of horses from the Derby joined by horses that are joining the Triple Crown trail at the second stop. Sometimes those new faces are exceptional runners that are clearly worthy of your attention — like Rachel Alexandra and Bernardini. This year, though, there are no great horses among the newcomers. Govenor Charlie, Departing or Titletown Five are all interesting enough to warrant some consideration. The fact is, though, that if they were good enough to contend with the top horses from the Derby then they would have been entered in the Derby. The Kentucky Derby is the biggest race on the planet, so if you have a shot to win it you usually take it. Fresh horses don’t always — or usually — mean good bets.
Forget about post position
The post positions in the Derby are a ridiculously overplayed angle. By now we have hopefully realized that there are many, many factors that are more significant in a race that long and that crazy than where they start. In the Preakness, the post positions matter even less from a handicapping perspective. You might think that the opposite would be true because of the narrower track and shorter distance, but that just hasn’t proven to be the case.
In this race don’t let the post positions turn you off of a horse or push you towards another one.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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