The Ringling Brothers, Baffert & Medina Circus is coming to Baltimore.
The $1 million Grade 1 Preakness Stakes is this Saturday.
The second leg of the Triple Crown, takes place just two weeks after the fabled showdown under the twin spires at Churchill Downs, but what a difference two weeks makes in how horseplayers approach handicapping the two races.
The Kentucky Derby is typically dissected from every angle, with bettors pouring over tons of historical data to identify the most likely Winner.
In contrast, the Preakness receives considerably less attention from a trends and angles perspective.
The historical data is instead overshadowed by a single burning question: will the Kentucky Derby Winner come back to take the Preakness, setting up a shot at the Triple Crown?
There is, of course, a lot more going on this year; with a distinct possibility that MEDINA SPIRIT could Win the Preakness, but be disqualified from his Derby Victory. Thereby eradicating his chance at a Triple Crown.
All this doesn’t mean historical data is irrelevant in the Preakness.
To the contrary, the race tends to produce similar results year after year, and reviewing the recent history of the Preakness can help guide us toward logical contenders.
Respect Pacesetters And Speed Horses: As a general rule, it’s wise to bet on horses with tactical speed. Four of the last 12 Preakness Winners prevailed in gate-to-wire fashion, including Triple Crown Winners AMERICAN PHAROAH and JUSTIFY. Six others Winners were racing within 3 1/2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile.
By contrast, only one horse in the last 12 years has rallied from the back half of the Preakness field to get the Win. That horse was the mud-loving EXAGGERATOR, who benefited from chasing a fast pace over a sloppy, tiring track to close from 8th place and Win easily in 2016.
Favor Horses Exiting The Kentucky Derby And Kentucky Oaks: Over the last 20 years, horses that have raced in the Kentucky Derby have dominated the Preakness, visiting the Winner’s Circle 16 times.
Two others, fillies RACHEL ALEXANDRA and SWISS SKYDIVER used the Kentucky Oaks as their springboard to glory at Pimlico, leaving only BERNADINI and CLOUD COMPUTING as the only Preakness Winners since 2001 who didn’t prep in the Derby or Oaks.
Bet Kentucky Derby Winners Trained By Bob Baffert: Putting everything else aside, and thinking strictly from a wagering standpoint; Baffert has Won the Preakness a record seven times. All seven of his Winners came out of the Kentucky Derby, including five who prevailed in the Run For The Roses.
Avoid Playing Major Longshots: It’s not uncommon for mid-range longshots to reach the Preakness wire first. In the last 15 years, BERNADINI (2006), SHACKLEFORD (2011), OXBOW (2013), and CLOUD COMPUTING (2017) have all prevailed at odds between 12-1 and 15-1.
That’s a testament to the (generally) predictable nature of the Preakness– that these four upset Winners rank among the 11 highest-priced Winners in Preakness history.
Although the race has been contested 145 times, only four Winners have ever started at higher than 15-1, with the surprise Victory of 23-1 MASTER DERBY in 1975 standing as the record for a longshot Winner.
Support Proven Graded Stakes Winners: It’s rare for horses unproven against Graded Stakes company to Win the Preakness.
In fact, 18 of the last 20 Preakness Winners had previously Won a Graded Stakes, with 14 proving their worth at the Grade 1 level prior to prevailing at Pimlico.
The lone exceptions to the Graded Stakes trend were SHACKLEFORD (2011) and CLOUD COMPUTING (2017), though both had placed 2nd at the Graded Stakes level. SHACKLEFORD most notably coming up a head short of Victory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.
On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a look at the field of ten for this year’s edition of the Preakness Stakes. So stop back and see who we like.