The 137th Preakness Stakes is less than two days away, and by now you either have your mind made up about who you think should win or at the very least have a short list of probable winners.
The $1 million Preakness will be the 11th race on a 13-race card that begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. Post time for the Preakness is listed as 6:18 p.m. ET, and it will be televised live by NBC as part of a two-hour telecast beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Just two weeks after the exciting rundown of Bodemeister by I'll Have Another at the Kentucky Derby, we'll get a second chance to do it all over again and watch one of the most anticipated rematches in recent years.
When you talk to the horse racing fans, it seems like the Derby winner was Bodemeister and not I'll Have Another. It's not often that we see the Derby runner-up praised more on defeat than the actual winner.
Justified? Not from my point of view. Bodemeister's effort was a remarkable one and worthy of praise, but that is the way horse racing is, and I'll Have Another was the best then and should have been praised as such.
Bodemeister is the favorite heading into the Preakness, and, certainly, he has everything going his way. There is virtually no speed challenge for him, and considering how he disposed of the opposition at the Arkansas Derby when he slowed the pace down, it looks like he will win on a runaway.
There are some other runners not named I'll Have Another that have as much chance, though. So before you make your bet on Saturday, take a look at the following betting guide to the favorites and contenders for Saturday's Preakness Stakes.
Morning Line Odds: Teeth of the Dog at 15/1; Zetterholm at 20/1; Cozzetti, Optimizer, Pretension and Tiger Walk all at 30/1.
These horses are the outsiders looking in on this race. They all certainly have not shown to this date that they are at the same level as the top five contenders in the race.
They all have flashed moments of brilliance but have not beaten top-tier competition, and their Beyer figures need some improvement if they are to win.
But only death and taxes are certain in life, so by no means is it impossible that any of them could win on Saturday.
The one that I see with the best chance is Cozzetti at 30/1. His final odds might be a bit lower since his work on Monday of :58.4 for five furlongs at Churchill opened some eyes. Still, he is an unproven horse that might give you a nice betting payoff if you include him on the exotics.
From the others, Teeth of the Dog sounds interesting, but at 15/1 he is under-priced. His third at the Wood was not validated after Gemologist and Alpha under-performed at the Derby. Look for him on the exotics if he is at 25/1 or higher.
Morning Line Odds: 12/1
Jockey: Julien R. Leparoux
Trainer: Steven M. Asmussen
When he arrived to Churchill Downs, he was the winner of two straight G3 stakes races and the one horse that caught the eye of the people on the track every morning he worked.
He was the only horse to have run and won twice at a distance of nine furlongs, which made him a logical horse to have a big race on him. He did have some trouble, but it was late and non-factoring on his finish.
The 14/1 at the Derby was because of the potential he showed, but he should get bigger odds here.
The big question on him comes regarding his dirt surface potential. He has done far better on turf, and maybe the surface at Churchill was not to his liking. But as for me, I wonder if the Derby was just a negative fluke.
The colt gets his regular rider, Julien Leparoux, back for this race. But at 12/1, you might like to wait and see if he gets odds of 20/1 for the race and at least include him in the trifectas.
Morning Line Odds: 6/1
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Mike Harrington
This horse will be in the mix at the end—that is just the nature of this warrior workhorse.
Before the Derby he had never been beaten by more than a length and had never finished lower than third place.
During the Derby, jockey Joel Rosario took him back to 10th place early and tried to keep him in the clear outside during the backstretch. When he started his move during the far turn behind I'll Have Another, he had to take an eight-wide trip and couldn't keep up with the eventual winner.
He finished fifth, beaten a mere three lengths.
He got some play at 11.90/1 odds in the Derby and is at 6/1 morning line now. After all is said and done, I expect him to fall down to 10/1, or at least 8/1.
If you ask me, these are good odds for somebody who has already run down favorite Bodemeister once and almost did the same to Derby winner I'll Have Another in the Santa Anita.
The distance and much less traffic will suit him well. He just has to improve slightly to win here, and at any odds this horse is a must on any combination bet.
Morning Line Odds: 6/1
Jockey: John R. Velazquez
Trainer: H. Graham Motion
This is the wild-card horse here. He is still an improving horse that keeps getting better and better with every race and is looking good in the mornings after his troubled Derby.
I keep recapping his Derby race, as people must realize all the trouble he had. He was squeezed just after the start, had to check twice before he reached the first turn, took a trip seven-wide in the final turn, entered the stretch ninth 10.5 lengths behind and rallied to finish fourth just 2.5 lengths behind.
It's true he was passing mostly tired horses, but he wasn't supposed to be running from so far behind, and he still finished stronger than any other horse.
You realize this was either a huge run even with all the trouble or just think he was passing tired horses.
The fact that his morning line is just 6/1 after being 30/1 at the Derby shows you he has opened some eyes with his run.
He is my favorite to win the race. But I would like to have some better odds from him, and considering how much tote play the favorites will have, he might slip down to 10/1.
Even if you don't share my thought of him winning, he is a lock to be in the top three on this race; include him on all combinations at any odds.
Morning Line Odds: 5/2
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Trainer: Doug O'Neill
The Derby winner still gets no respect. He had everything going his way on the Derby and won it, right? Bodemeister was just going too fast, and that was the only reason why I'll Have Another caught him in the final half-furlong.
That's why he won, right? Not quite.
Horse racing is just that—the horse has to be the best that day, overcome the pace, traffic, bad post position and be in great shape to do it. In the Derby, all those come into play more than almost any other race in the U.S.
I'll Have Another did all that.
Bodemeister seems to have everything going his way, but this horse has the tools to be the first Derby winner to repeat at the Preakness since Big Brown in 2007.
This is a stalker horse that has deceptive speed, and he can be close to Bodemeister's expected slower pace and get to him.
Bodemeister will definitely be the favorite, and I'll Have Another will be second choice. At this moment he has a 5/2 morning line, but he has beaten his odds on all three wins this year and could do the same again.
Expect him to go at maybe 4/1 come post time. And at those odds, a Derby winner being a second betting choice is a good play to win.
Morning Line Odds: 8/5
Jockey: Mike E. Smith
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Bodemeister is the morning line favorite and understandably so. You can even win any argument when you ask if that status is justified.
His jockey and trainer are Hall of Famers. He is the only true speed in the race, and Pimlico's sharper turns and shorter track only play to his favor. It all points to a repeat of his performance at the Arkansas Derby, where he slowed the splits and crushed the opposition.
All this could happen, and it looks like it's the common thought that he will win in a runaway.
My concern with him is that this will be his third big race in just five weeks and his sixth this year. So far he looks great, and trainer Bob Baffert has him here again, so he must really expect Bodemeister to win here.
Baffert has won this race five times, so he has an idea or two of how to win it.
But to me the line has to be drawn at some point, and for an 8/5 morning line that should be lower come post time, I prefer to bet against him based on my concern about him.
Truth be told, for him to lose, his contenders must come to get him. And in a race as big as this, you just don't run for second best—you just go get it, and I expect Went the Day Well, I'll Have Another and Creative Cause to do just that.