When it comes
time to make your picks for the Preakness, you
have a couple of choices. You can stare at the
racing form until your eyes bleed and read the
thousands of words that will be generated by
experts in the next two weeks, or you can just
be lazy, have faith that history will continue
to repeat itself, and rely on the betting angles
that have performed well in past versions of
the race. The second choice will be much simpler,
and it will leave you way more time to relax
and dream about how you are going to spend the
fortune you make betting on the Preakness. Here
are nine angles that I dug up using a spreadsheet
and the mighty Internet. Some are easier to
believe than others, but all of them are true
and have been profitable over the years:
Bet the Derby winner to win the Preakness -
Since 1979 the Derby winner has only missed
the Preakness three times. In those 24 races,
the Derby winner has won the Preakness 10 times.
If you were to bet $20 to win on each Derby
winner, you would have bet a total of $480,
but you would have collected $792. That's a
profit of $312, or a return on investment (ROI)
of 65 percent. The Bet: Barbaro.
Bet the Derby exacta straight up - In the last
20 years the Preakness exacta has been the same
as the Derby exacta four times. That means that
you would win by betting the same exacta 20
percent of the time. Pretty easy to make a profit
on that. In fact, the last time it happened
- in 1999 when Charismatic bested Menifee twice
in a row - the payout for the Preakness was
$47.60, more than enough to make you profitable
on all 20 bets. The other three wins are pure
profit. The Bet: Barbaro over Bluegrass Cat
(if the Cat comes back for the Preakness, that
Bet the Derby favorite to win the Preakness
- Since 1980, the Derby favorite has run in
the Preakness 14 times. It has been the winner
on six occasions. If you had bet $20 to win
each time you would have spent $280, but been
returned $496. That's a profit of $216 and a
ROI of 77 percent. The Bet: Sweetnorthernsaint.
Use the Derby favorite in your exotics - Of
the 14 times that the Derby favorite has run
back in the Preakness since 1980, it has been
the winner six times, been second three times
and third three times. Only Harlan's Holiday,
which finished fourth, and Excellent Meeting
which broke down, haven't hit the board in the
Preakness. That means that the Derby favorite
has been part of the exacta nine out of 14 times,
and part of the trifecta an amazing 12 out of
14 times. The Bet: Stick Sweetnorthernsaint
in your exotics.
Love the one word names - Since Swale won the
Derby in 1984 seven horses with one word names
have won the Derby and gone on to race in the
Preakness. Alysheba and Charismatic carried
their space-free names right into the winner's
circle, and Ferdinand and Unbridled both finished
second. Both a win bet and a place bet on each
single-named Derby winner would have been profitable.
The Bet: I don't see any spaces in Barbaro,
so a win and a place bet are called for.
Chestnuts have more fun - In the last ten years
there have been 111 starters in the Preakness.
Thirty four of them, or 30.6 percent, have been
chestnuts. Chestnuts have won five of the last
10 editions of the Preakness. That's 50 percent.
In other words, chestnuts are performing disproportionately
well. On the other hand, bays and dark brown
horses have made up 59.5 percent of the field,
but have only won four of the races, or 40 percent.
Gray horses have performed about as expected
- 11 percent of the runners and about 9 percent
of the wins. The message is clear - look for
the chestnuts. The Bet: Of the Derby runners
headed to Pimlico, only Lawyer Ron is a chestnut.
Blame the President - Of the last 10 horses
that have won the Derby and the Preakness, six
of them managed the feat under a Republican
President. That bodes well for Barbaro thanks
to Mr. Bush. The Prez could prove to be bad
news for Barbaro if he wins the Preakness, though.
Of the 11 Triple Crown winners, nine of them
won while a Democrat was in office. The Bet:
Jump on the undefeated Derby winner - The last
three undefeated Derby winners - Majestic Prince,
Seattle Slew and Smarty Jones - have all won
the Preakness. A $20 bet on each would have
made you a $34 profit, or a ROI of 170 percent.
Barbaro hasn't lost yet. He hasn't even come
close. The Bet: Barbaro.
Bet the favorite - If the rest of these angles
seem too complicated, just wait until Preakness
post time and bet on the favorite. That plan
hasn't failed in the last five years. $20 bets
would add up to $100, but have returned a healthy
profit of $220. The Bet: It would take a miracle
for Barbaro not to be the favorite.
--By T.O. Whenham.
Doc Sports is a documented member of The Professional
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