EDITOR'S NOTE: First Mission was scratched Friday morning from the Preakness on advice of veterinarians taking one of the top contenders out of the Triple Crown race 36 hours before post time. The removal of First Mission leaves seven horses in the field for the $1.65 million race. At the time this article was published, First Mission was the second choice at odds of 5-2.
The second jewel of horse racing's triple crown, the Preakness Stakes, highlights an afternoon of racing on the NBC family of networks. Coverage from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland kicks off at 1:00pm on CNBC before shifting to NBC at 4:30pm.
The field is highlighted by Kentucky Derby winner Mage, who is looking to become the first horse since Justify in 2018 to win both the Derby and the Preakness. His biggest challenger is First Mission, an inexperienced horse who did not develop quickly enough to make it into the Derby but comes into this race in great form.
Those two horses are the clear standouts, but I do not see a win bet on either of them providing much value. I am going to have to get creative here to get enough bang for my buck, so let's dive deeper:
148TH PREAKNESS STAKES
RACE 13, PIMLICO
SATURDAY MAY 20, POST TIME 7:01PM ET
As I mentioned above, #3 Mage and #8 First Mission are the clear standouts in this field, but I do not think a win bet on either horse will provide enough value for my liking. As a result, I am going to get creative by “wheeling” longshots underneath in the trifecta and superfecta.
I am electing to toss both #1 National Treasure and #7 Blazing Sevens from my wagers. Some bettors will gravitate towards National Treasure as he is trained by the famed Bob Baffert, but I am firmly against him in this spot. Baffert has a record-tying seven wins in the Preakness, but each of those seven horses ran in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier. National Treasure did not run in the Derby, and Baffert's Preakness record with horses that did not compete in the Run for the Roses is an abysmal 0-for-6 with a best finish of 5th. I think National Treasure continues that streak and finishes in the back half of the field.
(Read More: Mage's Routine at Pimlico)
Some might see Blazing Sevens, who skipped the Derby despite having enough points to enter, as a good alternative to the top-3 choices. After all, trainer Chad Brown's two Preakness winners – Cloud Computing in 2017 and Early Voting last year – both skipped the Derby as well. But those two horses are far more talented than Blazing Sevens, and this colt tends to throw in some clunkers, as evidenced by his 8th place finish in March's Fountain of Youth. I am leaving him off my tickets and, for the sake of my wager, hope he throws in another clunker in the Preakness.
(Read More: Post Positions and Odds for the Preakness Field)
That leaves 4 longshots: #2 Chase the Chaos, #4 Coffeewithchris, #5 Red Route One, and #6 Perform. I am going to “part-wheel” these four underneath Mage and First Mission who will be “keyed” in the top-two places. I do not often recommend “wheeling” horses as it can make your tickets get very expensive very quickly, but I have decided this gives me more bang for my buck than a simple “win” bet on either of the two favorites. Also, exactas including the top-2 choices often produce underlay payoffs, so I am sticking to the trifecta and superfecta.
In the simplest terms, I need two things to happen– Mage and First Mission to finish 1-2 in either order, and for both National Treasure and Blazing Sevens to finish outside the top-4.
TRIFECTA: 3,8 / 3,8 / 2,4,5,6
SUPERFECTA: 3,8 / 3,8 / 2,4,5,6 / 2,4,5,6
Enjoy the Preakness on NBC and enjoy the sweat along with me.