Justify may not provide a big payoff for his backers as the odds-on race favorite, but he will provide a box-car payoff for his owners if he gets his nose under the wire prior to any of the other seven competitors in the Preakness field.
The purse for the second jewel of the Triple Crown is a robust $1.5 million, and the payoffs break down to $900,000 going to the winner, $300,000 to the second-place finisher, $165,000 for the third-place horse, $90,000 for fourth and $45,000 for fifth place, according to topbet.eu.
Those figures are the same payoffs that the 2017 Preakness field received.
With the race just a little more than 24 hours away, the likelihood is that the Preakness will be run in the rain, just as the Kentucky Derby was on the first Saturday in May.
It is expected to rain through the end of the day on Friday, and thunderstorms are predicted for Saturday in Baltimore, according to the Weather Channel, which estimates the likelihood of precipitation at 90 percent.
Justify has proved he can win and dominate in the rain, while second choice Good Magic has shown that he can run a strong race in wet weather.
Justify comes into the race with odds of minus-225, while Good Magic is plus-325. The other six horses in the race are all longshots, with Quip serving as the third choice at plus-1400
Preakness Stakes Horses, Jockeys, Odds and Win-Bet Payouts
(All payouts are based on $2 win bets at morning-line odds)
1 — Quip (Florent Geroux): +1400, $30
2 — Lone Sailor (Irad Ortiz): +2000, $42
3 — Sporting Chance (Luis Contreras) +4000, $82
4 — Diamond King (Javier Castellano): +2000, $42
5 — Good Magic (Jose Ortiz): +325, $8.50
6 — Tenfold (Ricardo Santana Jr.): +3300, $68
7 — Justify (Mike Smith): -225, $2.80
8 — Bravazo (Luis Saez): +1800, $38
Betting lines are courtesy of OddsShark.
The powerful three-year-old colt has shown he can win running with a number of different styles, but he is probably at his best when he is close to the lead and then hits full speed after the race reaches the halfway point.
That's the style he used in the Derby, when Justify got out of the gate quickly and tucked in right behind early leader Promises Fulfilled.
Justify was able to avoid the traffic that comes with a 20-horse field and took the lead prior to reaching the one-mile mark.
While he is not likely to have traffic problems in the Preakness, getting close to the front is a comfortable style for the Bob Baffert-trained horse, and it is clearly one that jockey Mike Smith is capable of executing.
Good Magic ran a hard race in the Kentucky Derby and was in fifth place after six furlongs and came back to challenge Justify at the top of the stretch before having to settle for second place.
Trainer Chad Brown thought his horse might not be in a position to challenge Justify in the Preakness, but the trainer has been impressed with his charge's preparation.
"I would think that after a hard race like the Kentucky Derby in those kind of conditions, it would have been a bit of a long shot to do all that and have him look the way I wanted him to look," Brown said, per Alicia Wincze Hughes in Blood Horse Daily. "And, lo and behold, he looked terrific coming out of the race, just a week removed. That was remarkable. I was very taken aback by how well the horse came out of the race and how strong he galloped at Belmont."
Quip is also a runner that likes to get to the front, and he may have chance to do that if the rail is not too deep on race day.
However, even if he can get there, it seems too much to ask him to hold off Justify throughout the 1 3/16-mile race.
Longshot Bravazo may be in a position to make a late run if the early runners engage in a speed duel and tire each other out. Bravazo is a come-from-behind runner and has three victories, and he has hit the board seven times in nine career races.