If the recent Kentucky Derby was all about breaking the infamous “Curse of Apollo,” the upcoming 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes – as it always has – will be focused on the Triple Crown chase.
Justify backed up his favorite status at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, sloshing through the sloppy track to win the Run for the Roses by 2.5 lengths. In doing so, the Bob Baffert-trained colt became the first Derby champion since Apollo in 1882 to win on horse racing’s grand stage without having raced as a two-year old.
That put Justify at a perfect 4-0 in his career – and with the Preakness Stakes scheduled for a rainy Saturday at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course – the accomplished mudder is a heavy favorite once again at (-225) at online sportsbook Bovada.
After drawing Post #7 for the second straight race, legendary trainer Baffert told reporters that he was comfortable with his horse atop the betting board:
“I like being the favorite. I don’t like being 50-1. I like knowing I have a chance to win it.
When you come in thinking that you’re going to need the Stanford marching band to interfere with it, you don’t feel that well.
When you know there’s a chance to pull this off … that’s what it’s all about.”
What Baffert is attempting to pull off is, of course, leading Justify to victory in the Preakness – and giving his team a chance to win the elusive Triple Crown.
Baffert famously broke a 37-year Triple Crown drought back in 2015 with American Pharoah, and if Justify can pull off the win tomorrow, he’ll have a chance to turn the trick twice in a four-year span. Per the latest Bovada odds, Justify is a (+150) underdog to do so, with the “No Triple Crown Winner” wager favored at (-200).
Standing in Justify’s way will be a field of seven other thoroughbreds, one topped by Good Magic at (+300) running out of Post #5. After finishing as the runner-up in the Derby, the colt benefits from being trained by Chad Power – who led Cloud Computing to the win in last year’s Preakness.
Good Magic has compiled a 6-2-3-1 record over his career, and he’s the lone horse in the field to have proven that they can keep pace with Justify.
Bettors looking for a longshot with a legitimate chance to pull off the upset would be well-served to follow the advice of legendary handicapper Hank Goldberg.
Last year, “Hammerin’ Hank” chatted with Power ahead of the Preakness, hearing enough encouraging signs to back the (+1400) underdog to win. Goldberg even put Cloud Computing atop exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagers, a system that returned a whopping 220 to 1 on his money.
This time around, Goldberg is using his position as racing analyst for CBS to tout Lone Sailor, a (+2000) longshot that finished in eighth place out of the 20-horse Derby field.
But as Goldberg told CBS Sportsline, that seemingly poor performance was nothing but a mirage, thanks in large part to throwing a shoe on the sloppy course:
“He ran well in the Derby. Lone Sailor was making up ground and closing down the stretch. He ran well in Louisiana too.
He threw a shoe in the Derby and got blocked when following Justify, but if he had run a clean Derby, he might have been in the money.
He’s training great heading into the 2018 Preakness and will run from the No. 2 post.”
For a full rundown of the odds on all eight horses in the field for the 2018 Preakness Stakes, see the table below:
2018 Preakness Stakes Winner Odds on Bovada
|Pole Position||Horse (Jockey)||Preakness Stakes Win Odds on 5/18|
|1||Quip (Florent Geroux)||+1400 (14 to 1)|
|2||Lone Sailor (Irad Ortiz Jr.)||+2000 (20 to 1)|
|3||Sporting Chance (Luiz Contreras)||+3300 (33 to 1)|
|4||Diamond King (Javier Castellan)||+2000 (20 to 1)|
|5||Good Magic (Jose Ortiz)||+300 (3 to 1)|
|6||Tenfold (Victor Espinoza)||+3300 (33 to 1)|
|7||Justify (Mike Smith)||-225 (4 to 9)|
|8||Bravazo (Luis Saez)||+1800 (18 to 1)|