2015 Preakness Stakes Expert Betting Advice: Tips on Maximizing Wagers
by Trevor Whenham - 5/12/2015
One of the things that makes the Preakness interesting from a betting perspective is that it is always different from year to year. You always have the Kentucky Derby winner to contend with, but how impressive that winner is, how strong the rest of the Derby field was, who is coming back to face him again, and what new horses are joining the mix all give the Preakness a different betting look each year. Last year, for example, California Chrome faced a bigger field of 10 horses, but there were no horses that were close to his level — unlike American Pharoah, who faces Dortmund and Firing Line. With each different type of Preakness you have to adjust how you bet the race accordingly. Here, then, is my advice and tips for how to bet the Preakness in 2015:
With American Pharoah or against him?: This is the question you have to ask every time there is a strong favorite — as if often the case in this race if the Derby winner was both popular and impressive. American Pharoah sits at 5/8 to win the race at Bovada as I write this and is likely to go off at or below even money by post time. When a horse offers prices that low you are very limited in how you can use him and still make money. It’s a waste of time, for example, to bet him across the board because if he finishes second you will win the place and show bets but still likely lose money overall. You also can’t afford to use him and several other horses atop an exotic bet — like an exacta box, for example — because if he wins the payoffs will be low enough that you are unlucky to recover the cost of your lost bets. In this case, then, what you have to do is decide whether you think he is going to win or lose and bet accordingly. If you think he will win then you can bet him to win and key him on top of exotics. If you expect him to get beat, though, then you have to ignore him entirely in any kind of race win scenario and go with the other horses. One approach or the other is the best way to maximize your profits if you are right. Any blend of the two approaches will just lead to losses for you regardless of how the race turns out.
So, how do you figure out if you think he will win or not? It is never easy — it wouldn’t be fun if it was, but there are several questions to ask. How impressed were you by his Derby win? Do you think the horses behind him have room to improve? How much did that race take out of him? Will the shorter distance be a factor here? How? Will the pace set up as favorably as it did in the Derby? Will it matter?
Throw horses out ruthlessly: The field is small here — no more than eight horses are expected to enter the Preakness. The top end is excellent — American Pharoah and Dortmund are proven superstars, Firing Line could be at their level, and Danzig Moon has impressed. Divining Rod seems to have some things going for him, too. Behind them, though, things get sketchy. Bodhisattva is a local with some mild success, but those horses rarely shine in the Preakness. Tale of the Verve is lightly-raced and hasn’t had the success yet that makes us really believe he belongs. He looks like a seasoned veteran next to potential entrant Grand Bili, though. That horse has raced only twice, has never seen stakes competition, and seems like just a waste of space in the gate.
It can be tempting to throw these horses in your exotic bets because of their massive potential payoffs. They are real long shots for a reason, though — they just aren’t good enough. With a top end in this race that is so talented, and that will be bet so heavily, you have to accept that you can’t afford to bet every horse and that you won’t be missing out on much or adding much additional risk to your day by excluding some. You want to diversify your bets to some extent to give yourself several chances to win, but don’t over-diversify and rob yourself of a chance of profits. That means that you need to look at what your bets could potentially pay and make sure that you are betting less than the payout of your most likely outcomes.
Get exotic: When you have a field as top-heavy as this one is you have the luxury of getting aggressive in your exotics. For example, the superfecta could be attractive here — the top three horses seem very strong, and there is a clear second tier behind them. You have a chance in this race to take a shot at some of the typically tougher exotic bets at a reasonable price. Remember, though — you can’t get too carried away because the payoffs won’t be as high with these horses as they typically are in other races if things turn out as expected.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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