2012 Preakness Stakes Betting Tips
by Trevor Whenham - 5/8/2012
As we move beyond the Kentucky Derby, won by I’ll Have Another, and look towards the Preakness our focus is on only one thing — finding the winner. To help in that pursuit here are four 2012 Preakness Stakes betting tips to guide you:
Don’t crown the Derby winner because you want the Belmont to matter
I’m more guilty of this than anyone. I have a poster on my wall beside my desk that shows every Triple Crown winner. That thing taunts me. Every year I look at it, count the time that has passed since the last winner in 1978, and hope against hope that this is finally the year.
For a long time I had a very firm rule — I could only make one bet on the Preakness, and that was on the Derby winner to win. I gave that up because it wasn’t leading to a Triple Crown, and because betting on horses like Giacomo or Monarchos just wasn’t that appealing.
No matter how desperate you are to see a Triple Crown winner you have to objectively look at whether the Derby horse is really likely to win, and whether he is deserving of the favorite status he will secure most years.
There are some horses that win the Derby because they are special, and they exert their speed, stamina and class on racing’s biggest stage. As often, though, the Derby is won by the horse that is in the right place at the right time. The Derby is crowded, chaotic and unpredictable. If the pace is strange, the track conditions are less than ideal, or the favorites don’t perform then anything can happen in this race. A horse that can take advantage of those circumstances can win the Derby, but unless things work out just right for him again he won’t be able to win again.
This raises a tough situation for this year. I’ll Have Another was not a fluke winner. He got to run his race, and he got a flawless ride, but he gets credit for a strong performance. There is no doubt, though, that Bodemeister was even more impressive in defeat as he held on following a suicidal early pace. The case for the winner is far from clear cut. In that way it’s as if we are looking at last year with Animal Kingdom all over again.
A bad Derby doesn’t necessarily eliminate a horse
There are several horses heading into the Preakness on the heels of a lousy Derby performance. The Derby is the longest race most of those horses will run in, and it is certainly the biggest field and the craziest crowd they will see. There are a lot of legitimate reasons why a good horse can have a very bad day in the Derby.
The ultimate example here is the great Point Given in 2001. He had a terrible run in the Derby and was hugely disappointing — and expensive — for many bettors. He bounced back from that to dominate the Preakness, run the fourth-fastest Belmont ever, and cap it all off by winning two more one million dollar races in the summer.
There are a couple of horses that stand out here if they do make the trip to the Preakness. Two year old champion Hansen is likely to be in the race, while Union Rags is less likely but still possible. Both horses have obvious talent, but neither showed any real spark in the Derby. They are both more than capable of winning the Preakness if they run like they can and not like they did at Churchill.
Don’t be too tempted by fresh horses
Times have changed in the Derby in recent years. Now if a horse has the earnings to make the Derby they more than likely run in the race. That means that new entrants on the Triple Crown trail likely couldn’t have run in the Derby, and that in turn means that they weren’t competitive enough on the spring prep circuit.
In other words, most horses that join the trail in the Preakness just aren’t good enough to win.
There are obvious exceptions — great horses like Bernardini and Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness without running in the Derby. They are clearly the exception, though — and there certainly aren’t any new entrants this year that share anything other than a species with those greats. These new invaders need to be considered in exotic bets — especially in the lower positions — but you have to have a very good reason to embrace one as a likely winner.
Post position isn’t worth a lot of worry
The track is narrower and the race is shorter, so you would think that post position would matter more in the Preakness than it does in the Derby. That just hasn’t proven to be the case, though.
We’ve seen horses in the last decade win from outside, inside, or the middle. What matters more in this race is which horse is the best — not where they will be starting. Overthinking the post position will just distract you from what really matters.
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