How To Handicap the 2017 Preakness Stakes

Posted by Michael Hunt on Wednesday,May 17, 2017 11:19, EDT in

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is the -140 favorite to win the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The last horse to win the first two legs was American Pharoah in 2015 and of course went on to win the Triple Crown. Although in 2016 it was a very different result, this year could be a lot different and we might just see another Triple Crown winner. Let’s take a look at what the Horse Betting Odds have to say for this year.

How To Handicap the 2017 Preakness Stakes

Last year we had three different horses win the Triple Crown races. Jockey Mario Gutierrez rode a magnificent race taking the favored Nyquist to the front of the pack to win the 142nd Run for the Roses in 2016. The race went as expected as the top 4 odds leaders finished in top 4 order. Alas, in the Preakness Stakes, Exaggerator and jockey Kent Desormeaux chased down, passed, and owned the final stretch as a tiring Nyquist ran out of gas after matching the early speed of Uncle Lino. Yet another horse, Creator, went on to win the Belmont.

Before that, the last Preakness winner who didn’t win the Derby was Oxbow in 2013. Sent off at 15-1 in the Preakness, the second longest shot in the field, the sixth-placed Derby finisher stunned the crowd by leading gate to wire. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Gary Stevens, Oxbow crossed the wire 1 ¾ lengths in front, while Kentucky Derby winner and race favorite Orb finished fourth.

The problem for the 2017 Preakness owners, trainers, jockeys, horses, and bettors is that the 2017 Kentucky Derby didn’t decide as much for us as in some years it does. A good part of that was due to this Derby’s heavy slop, a condition that can skew any horse race.

One of the favorites usually does win the Preakness. Since 1873, the post-time favorite has won over 50 percent of the time (45 percent since 1960), well above the 33 percent norm across all American races. If one were to put down a $2 win bet on each Preakness favorite, they would have netted a 16 percent return on their investment. Over the last 56 races, 66 percent of Preakness winners are one of the two betting favorites. Currently the second favorite is Classic Empire (+250), who was fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

In addition, since 1990 every Preakness winner has recorded a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 or higher in its career. Always Dreaming and Classic Empire are the only two in the current field to accomplish this. Classic Empire last hit the century mark in his BC Juvenile win in November. Always Dreaming marked a 102 figure in his Derby victory.

One other challenge with handicapping the Preakness is the new runners who skipped the Derby. Several horses that skipped this year’s Derby have the advantage of being rested, including Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money, Multiplier, Senior Investment and Term of Art. Lancaster Bomber, from the barn of Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, finished fourth in the English 2000 Guineas on May 6, the same day as the Derby.

Also, unlike the traffic-choked 20-horse field in the Derby, the second leg of the Triple Crown is limited to 14 horses running a shorter distance of 1 3/16 miles. Only three times in the last 27 years has the Preakness winner missed the Derby and that includes Rachel Alexandra crushing fillies in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the 2009 Derby and beating the boys 15 days later.