2018 Preakness Stakes Long Shots: Advice and Expert Betting Tips for Value
Let's be honest. The Preakness Stakes isn't shaping up to be a great spot for long shot hunting this year. As I write this on Monday it looks like there are going to be eight starters barring a surprise. The 10,000-ton gorilla is Derby winner Justify. He currently sits at -250 at Bovada to win the Preakness, and strong indications are that he will be at no better than 3/5 on the morning line once entries and post positions are drawn on Wednesday afternoon. He's dominant , and it seems like we are heading to an off track for the race, which only helps him more - he has won twice on off tracks, including in the wettest Derby in history. And as if he isn't good enough by himself, the reigning two-year-old champion Good Magic, who was a solid second in the Derby, is back for more, too. He's at +350 now and should be about 5/2 in the morning line. So, the best two-year-old last year joins the best three-year-old this year, and both are in top form and should like the track conditions. It hardly feels like a race that is begging for us to pick an upset. But we can try anyway - long shot betting keeps us young. So, in that spirit, here are four Preakness live long shots that could be worth a look on some level:
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Diamond King (+1600): This horse will wear the mantle as the local hero in this race as he won the Federico Tesio, the only specific Preakness prep race. That race was moved to Laurel from Pimlico in recent years, though, so this local choice has never actually run at Pimlico. He's also never performed at his best in graded stakes company - he didn't finish the race in his first try and was a somewhat underwhelming third in his second try. But entering his three-year-old year a key change was made. The colt was moved to the barn of John Servis. He's a very strong regional trainer mostly in Pennsylvania, but he breaks through nationally at times. Most notably, he was at the helm when Smarty Jones won the Derby and Preakness. Servis won the Preakness in his only appearance to date in the race, so there is a streak on the line if you believe in such things. The colt has clearly improved under new leadership, and he is training well up to this race. I don't believe he can challenge the top two if they are on their game, but he could be a useful piece of exotics.
Quip (+1600): This colt earned a spot in the Derby, but ultimately his connections didn't claim it, opting for this race instead. It's probably a better fit overall, but this is a tough spot. There is some good intrigue here - two of the partners in this colt are also partners in Justify, and a third owner of this colt owns breeding rights to the Derby champ. That could make for a very sad celebration party if this colt wins. While there probably isn't a lot of risk of that, he did win the Tampa Bay Derby and was second in the Arkansas Derby, so he has been a solid runner. His biggest issues are that he ideally runs a style of race that will have him eye-to-eye with Justify early on, which isn't good, and he has done well in races with slower fractions than we are likely to see here. But if things go sideways for the favorite then this colt could find himself well positioned to pick up the pieces.
Bravazo (+2000): After winning the Risen Star against a solid field, the horse was truly lousy in the Louisiana Derby. He bounced back reasonably well in the Kentucky Derby, though, finishing sixth and looking like he handled the off track reasonably well. He's at his best when he is closer to the pace, which might not be a horrible place to be in this race. He's among the best of the rest - for what that's worth this year.
Lone Sailor (+2500): His eighth-place finish in the Derby wasn't great, but he ran into traffic and couldn't deal with it. That will be much less of an issue in this race. He has won on an off track, so if that's what the weather gods deal us he'll be ready. And he runs a closing style, so if you believe that Justify is going to run himself and everyone around him into the ground then someone coming from off the pace could be attractive. He got nipped at the wire by Noble Indy in the Louisiana Derby, but he still showed a lot in that race. He's a factor.
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