The 2018 edition of the Kentucky Derby was shaping up to be one of the more wide-open fields in recent memory, but in the end, the chalk held firm with pre-race favorite Justify winning the 144th Run for the Roses.
While the favorite did win, we saw a few of the other horses tipped to challenge for the Derby falter in the rainy and muddy conditions at Churchill Downs. Bolt d’Oro (8-1) and Mendelssohn (6-1), who were each trendy pre-race betting picks, finished just 12th and 20th, respectively. The top-10 featured some longshots such as Good Magic (9-1), Bravazo (69-1), Hofburg (25-1) and Instilled Regard (99-1).
We don’t yet know how the field for the second leg of the Triple Crown will shape up. Justify will obviously be there to continue his own Triple Crown hunt, and one would imagine the colt will enter the race as a heavier favorite than he was in Kentucky. Bravazo, who finished sixth at the Derby, and Sporting Chance, who went fourth in the Pat Day Mile, are expected to join Justify at Pimlico.
Quip and Diamond King are a couple of other horses considered probable to run the race on May 19.
With his win at the Derby, it’s unlikely that bettors will be able to get Justify at as favorable a price as we saw before he dominated the field at Churchill Downs. Justify went into the race as a 3-1 favorite, but early numbers suggest he could enter the Preakness as heavy as a 1-2 favorite to make it back-to-back wins.
Here are the top sites we recommend for betting on the 2018 Preakness Stakes:
Can Justify do the Double?
Last year, Always Dreaming was in Justify’s position. Todd Pletcher’s colt breezed through the Kentucky Derby and entered the Preakness as a massive favorite, as expected. Unfortunately, his performance fell off a cliff at Pimlico, and Always Dreaming staggered to an eighth-place finish in the 10-horse field.
Obviously, Justify will be looking to put forth a stronger effort than that of his predecessor. Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has an excellent track record at Pimlico with Derby winners. A victory at this year’s Preakness would tie Baffert for the most wins by a trainer at the event with 7. Each of Baffert’s previous 4 Derby-winning horses – Silver Charm, Real Quiet, War Emblem and American Pharoah – went on to with the ensuing Preakness. So, there’s some pressure on Justify.
On Monday, Baffert told reporters that Justify is suffering from some irritation on his hind left foot. Apparently, it’s some sort of rash that can occur whenever horses have to run on a wet track, which was certainly the case on Saturday during the downpour in Louisville.
Fortunately, the ailment isn’t expected to put Justify’s status for the Preakness into question. Baffert said that his condition has improved in each of the 2 days since the race and that he is responding well to treatment. Justify and his team are expected to stay in Kentucky before traveling to Pimlico in the middle of next week.
Of the 143 previous horses to have won the Kentucky Derby, just 23 have gone on to win the Preakness immediately afterward. The last to accomplish the feat was Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015, though it’s happened fairly often since 1997. Since ‘97, 9 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
As it stands, there are plenty of numbers that favor Justify.
As it stands, it looks as though the field for the Preakness will be rather different from the one Justify blew through to win the Derby. Todd Pletcher has long held a stance that he does not like to race horses after having just 2 weeks off, so we may see the Preakness go on without any of his 4 Derby entrants – Audible, Vino Rosso, Noble Indy and Magnum Moon. That’s significant, especially considering Audible was one of Justify’s chief challengers at Churchill Downs, where he finished third.
As for Good Magic, who finished second, 2 ½ lengths adrift of Justify, his status for the Preakness is uncertain. Trainer Chad Brown told the media, “I don’t know” when asked whether we’ll see Good Magic seek a rematch with Justify at Pimlico. Brown wants to observe how the horse recovers from the Derby.
He said, “The horse is sound. He looks good, but I just have to observe him. I want to get the horse back home and evaluate his energy level. We’ve just got to go from there.”
Brown trained last year’s long shot Preakness winner, Cloud Computing, so he knows what it takes to succeed at Pimlico. Good Magic’s sire, Curlin, won the Preakness back in 2007 after finishing third at the Kentucky Derby, which was won by Street Sense.
Of the 29 horses that have run the Preakness in the last 3 years, just 12 also ran at Churchill Downs. Those without Triple Crown aspirations certainly don’t have as much impetus to push their horses twice in the span of 3 weeks. While the field typically looks vastly different, those that have run both races have enjoyed success at Pimlico. In the last 34 years, there have been just 4 Preakness winners that did not also run at the Kentucky Derby.
My Boy Jack (fifth at the Derby) and Bolt d’Oro (12th) are both headed back to California to train. Neither will participate in the Preakness, but both are possibilities for the Belmont Stakes on June 9. Mendelssohn, who was a pre-race favorite that floundered to a disappointing last-place finish in Kentucky, is heading back to Ireland.
As it stands, Justify may have a fairly easy road at Pimlico with most of his biggest rivals bowing out.
Popular Preakness Stakes Bets
The Preakness doesn’t draw nearly as much national attention as the Kentucky Derby does, but it’s still one of the premier horse racing events in North America on an annual basis. Most of the interest stems from whether the Derby winner can continue in his Triple Crown pursuit, but there are certainly more ways to bet on the Preakness than by just picking the winner.
Of course, picking the winner is the most popular Preakness bet. You can also place a “straight wager” on whether a horse will win, place or show if you’re less risk tolerant. If you do so, you’re simply wagering on your horse to finish first, second or third. It doesn’t matter where among the top-3 spots they finish. If the horse lands in the top-3, the bet is a winner.
If you’re feeling lucky, you can raise the stakes by placing an exacta, trifecta or superfecta bet. In an exacta bet, you’re betting on which two horses will finish first and second in the correct order. A trifecta is the top-3, while a superfecta is the top-4.
In the 2018 Kentucky Derby, a winning $2 exacta bet paid off $69.60. A $1 trifecta paid out $141.40, while a correct $1 superfecta bet dished out a whopping $19,618.20. Because the prizes get bigger with each additional horse on your ticket, nailing an exacta, trifecta or superfecta at the Preakness certainly has massive payday potential.
You can bet on which horses will win consecutive races. If you want to pick 2 consecutive winners, you’ll place a Daily Double bet. 3 is called a Pick 3, while 4 consecutive race winners would be a Pick 4.
A woman from Austin, Texas, placed an $18 Pick 5 bet on the Kentucky Derby that wound up paying out $1.2 million. Considering how many races the bettor has at their disposal and how much money is there to be won on the day of the Preakness, it makes all the sense in the world to get some exposure to the fun on race day.