The Preakness is going to be a very top-heavy race. American Pharoah will be a strong favorite, probably at less than even money by post time. Firing Line and Dortmund are also going to be popular with bettors and should both be at less than 5/1. The rest of the field is going to be far less popular. In fact, there is at least a chance that all of the rest of the horses will be at least 20/1.
When a race is so top-heavy I can't help but look at the underdogs to see if there is any value. It doesn't always turn out well, and it's particularly tough in a race like this where the top three are so easy to respect. This is not a race that is likely to fall apart - the best horses are too good. There are still a couple of live long shots, maybe even three - at least in terms of being used in the bottom part of exotic bets. There are also a couple of horses easy to ignore - Bodhisattva and Grand Bili if he is entered are the definition of also-rans despite their fat prices. That leaves three ( odds to win the race are from Bovada):
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Danzig Moon (18/1): I like a whole lot about this horse, though there is a good possibility that he will grow into himself later in the season. That is to say that he might not be good enough to win here, but he could be near the top of the division by the end of the year. His fifth-place effort in the Kentucky Derby was more than solid, and he looked solid in the stretch despite have a rough trip earlier on.
Things could set up better for him here, though, because of how the race shapes up from a pace perspective. Danzig Moon is the only pure closer in the field. The three favorites will all be on the pace or close to it, and there is a good chance that some of the little-or-no-hopers in the field will get aggressive early to try to blow the race up.
In the Derby Dortmund was able to set a modest early pace, and that made it all but impossible for any horse to mess with the class of the field. Forcing those horses to work too hard too early could be the only chance the lesser horses have here.
If the early pace is indeed aggressive then that sets things up well for one horse - the closer, Danzig Moon. Because of that alone Danzig Moon is worth a bet in exotics at this price - and we have the added bonus that he has solid connections and strong breeding.
Divining Rod (20/1): Again, this seems like a horse that will be better in the fall than now, but he is at least worth a look in this one. He was solid-but-not-overwhelming in two races in Tampa Bay earlier in the spring, and that essentially ended his quest for the Derby. He headed to the Lexington Stakes instead and won it with by far the most professional race of his career. He proved in that race that he can rate nicely. If he can sit just off the pace here and things get crazy up front he could, like Danzig Moon, be in a position to pick up the pieces.
This is a big step up in class, but his breeding is solid, he has trained well, and he is moving in the right direction. Good enough to win? Not without a whole lot of help. Certainly good enough to be a factor in the superfecta, though.
Tale of Verve (50/1): With the potential to have three horses at 50/1 or better, I can't help but look to see if any are worth a gamble. After all, with three horses at low odds that I like as much as I do, there would be nothing better than a 50/1 shot to improve the payoff of a superfecta.
The other two are easy to ignore. This horse is still deservedly a major long shot but somewhat more attractive. I really don't like that he needed six tries to break his maiden, or that he has never run in anything but a maiden special weight.
There are a couple of things to like, though. First, he is clearly improving, and his win last time out was over the same distance as this race. Second, I have a reasonable amount of faith in his connections. This is the second Triple Crown race they have tried to enter him in. If they see some reason to do that then maybe he has more to offer than seems apparent from the outside. I would say that I am cautiously intrigued.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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