Preakness 2014: Betting Guide to Favorites and Dark Horses

Jessica Paquette@jmpaquetteFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2014

Preakness 2014: Betting Guide to Favorites and Dark Horses

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Betting on horse racing can be a difficult task. Actually winning a wager is even more difficult. 

    This Saturday's Preakness Stakes has shaped up to be a competitive field. California Chrome, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, will try to take a further step toward the history books and take the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown. While he will be a heavy favorite, there could still be some money to be made in the Preakness.

    Read on for some basic betting tips and wagering strategies, with advice for the beginners and the more seasoned horseplayer. You can impress your friends with your handicapping prowess and with a little luck, even cash a ticket. 

    Odds courtesy of the Official Preakness website. 

Betting 101: The Basics

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Sometimes the best advice is to keep it simple. Straight Win, Place or Show bets allow you to focus your attention on one horse and hope for the best.


    Exactly what it sounds like. You can wager any denomination of your choosing, but the horse you select must finish first for you to cash in.


    Place is the runner-up position. When you place a wager on a horse to place, you will win the amount paid out in the second position if the horse finishes first or second.


    Show wagering is a safety bet. With this wager, you will walk away with some cash if your horse finishes first, second or third. Like with the place wager, you would win the amount in the third-place position.

Betting 101: Betting Exotics

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Exotic wagers can offer significantly more of a return on investment than a simple wager. Because of the high potential for reward, they also come with varying degrees of difficulty. 


    Also known as a "perfecta," this wager involves picking the horses that will finish first or second. To better your chances, you can also "box" the wager and you will win if the two you select finish in either order.


    Thought an exacta sounded too easy? In a trifecta, you must select the horses that will finish first, second and third. To better your odds, you can also box this bet, though that does increase the overall price of the wager.


    To further up the difficulty, financial reward and bragging rights, you could try to hit a superfecta. To do so, you must select the top four finishers. This is another wager that can be boxed to dramatically help your chances. 

Betting 101: Multi-Race Wagers

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Now you've mastered the win bet and are hitting trifectas like a pro. The next step is to tackle a multi-race wager. As if figuring out one race was not difficult enough, with the multi-race wagers you can add two, three, even six races into the fray.


    A double is a preselected series of two races. To win, you must select the winner of both.

    Pick Three

    To win a pick three, you must pick the winner of three consecutive races. A pick three will begin at various points during a race card.

    Pick Four

    Like a pick three, only with an additional race to conquer. The more races in the wager, the higher likelihood of a lucrative payoff. 

    Pick Six

    Possibly the most coveted score of a true horseplayer. There is no wager that truly tests a handicappers knowledge and strategy like a Pick Six. You must pick the winner of six races (as if one wasn't hard enough) and hope for a couple of long shots to drive up the overall payout.

Dark-Horse Contender: Ring Weekend

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    Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

    Ring Weekend has taken the road less traveled to the Triple Crown. After making his final race prior to the Kentucky Derby on turf, the Tampa Bay Derby winner was beginning to generate some hype heading toward the big race. Then, a minor illness knocked him to the sidelines.

    Fast forward to the Preakness and here he is, with six weeks rest and ready for his crack at the top horses. Trainer H. Graham Motion is an absolute master of the game and is one of the best at getting a horse to a peak effort off of an unconventional route. 

    The greatest example of Motion's mastery is of course, Animal Kingdom. Plagued by injuries, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner proved his triumph in the Run for the Roses was not a fluke and went on to run second in the Breeders' Cup Mile and win the Dubai World Cup.

    Ring Weekend is likely to be a big price, but could surprise.

    Odds: 20-1

Dark-Horse Contender: Dynamic Impact

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Dynamic Impact is a true dark horse. At this point, there is no real telling how good this colt may or may not actually be.

    He is reminiscent of his sire, Tiznow, in that he appears to be a slow-developing, late-blooming colt. He was born in April, and because all Thoroughbreds officially turn a year older January 1 regardless of their birthdays, he is on the younger side compared to some of his peers born earlier in the year. 

    He stepped up to stakes company in the Illinois Derby and did pass the test against that company with a game victory. However, he apparently beat a very suspect group of rivals and will get a stiffer test in the Preakness.

    That being said, until he proves otherwise, he may be a rising star with long-shot potential. 

    Odds: 12-1

Dark-Horse Contender: Kid Cruz

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Now, saying Kid Cruz has a legitimate chance to upset California Chrome may be stretching it, but this may be one of those instances where a show bet could prove profitable, or he could provide the ideal companion to California Chrome on an exotic ticket.

    Kid Cruz is stepping up to the big leagues for the first time after winning the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico. He has home-track advantage but more than that, he has the running style to capitalize on what could be a hotly contested pace.

    Is he good enough to win? Probably not, but he may be able to pick up some pieces at a price.

    Odds: 20-1

The Favorite: California Chrome

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    Garry Jones/Associated Press

    California Chrome, even at a very short price, is a formidable threat heading into the starting gate of the Preakness Stakes. He will have a big target on his back, as everyone will be trying to dethrone the reigning Kentucky Derby king.

    "Anytime I ride the favorite, or for any jockey not just me, there is pressure," California Chrome jockey Victor Espinoza told Michael Compton of "Everyone is trying to beat you. California Chrome can handle it. I can handle it, too."

    The challengers will have their work cut out for them. California Chrome dusted them in the Kentucky Derby, and while some of the new shooters are interesting, none seem quite up to the task of beating the West Coast star. As my colleague Tom Weir wrote, they're "not exactly an imposing cast."

    The Derby winner has proven to be a significant cut above his peers and will be poised for another dominant victory.

    Odds: 3-5 

Preakness Betting Tips

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    Here are my selections for the big race.

    Win: California Chrome

    Exacta: California Chrome over Ring Weekend

    Trifecta: California Chrome over Ring Weekend and Kid Cruz