The Kentucky Derby didn’t disappoint, both on the track and in the bank account, as three of the top 3-year-olds tangled throughout before American Pharoah lived up to the hype with a hard-earned victory. We cashed on the winner, exacta, trifecta and superfecta, and hope you did, too.
I love that all three colts are wheeling back for the Preakness, as we could be in store for another thrilling stretch run. With only eight horses signed on, let’s dig in and see if we can create some value in this short field.
▪ No. 1 American Pharoah (4/5 ML): Nothing to knock on the Derby champion, other than the draw. Rail could be tricky, and I hope jockey Victor Espinoza doesn’t get cute and just sends AP to the lead. I think his best chance to win is to use his big speed and wire the field. If Espinoza is passive early, it may cost him.
▪ No. 2 Dortmund (7-2): Just like in the Derby, I’m going to side against the big beast. Just past the midpoint of the Derby, when he was on the lead through soft fractions, I thought he was gone. He couldn’t close the deal there and this time he’s sandwiched between AP and volatile long shot Mr. Z. Respect, but not on top.
▪ No. 3 Mr. Z (20-1): This quirky colt could play a huge factor in who wins the Preakness. Named after Ahmed Zayat, owner of AP, he was sold this week by Zayat. With a new owner who isn’t concerned with AP’s Triple Crown aspirations, he is expected to gun to the lead and mess with the two favorites on the inside.
▪ No. 4 Danzig Moon (15-1): Finished a credible fifth in the Derby but never threatened the Top 3. Has caught the eyes of many clockers in the mornings before and after the Derby, but he’s a clear cut below on talent. That said, with plenty of speed in the race and the possible chaos that Mr. Z could cause, he’s the one closer that could pick up the pieces late. I’ll use in the bottom of the exotic wagers.
▪ No. 5 Tale of Verve (30-1): Impossible long shot. He’s a closer, but if he finishes in the Top 4 I’d be shocked.
▪ No. 6 Bodhisattva (20-1): If the winner of the Preakness was determined by the horse’s name, this guy would be the clear winner. Makes me want to pop in my “Point Break” DVD. With that being irrelevant, this long shot would have to improve a ton to hit the board here. To his credit, he owns a victory on the track, so I can see using at the bottom of the superfecta.
▪ No. 7 Divining Rod (12-1): This lightly raced colt was impressive winning the Lexington last out, and was pointed immediately for this race. The competition he beat that day was suspect, but showed a new dimension by stalking the pace and pulling away in the stretch. If there’s one horse outside the Big 3 that could win, this would be the one. That said, I’m siding against but will be an exotic anchor for me.
▪ No. 8 Firing Line (4-1): I was ultra-impressed by his second-place effort in the Derby. I’ve watched the replay over and over, and jockey Gary Stevens was not happy getting nipped late by AP. This colt was the big winner in the draw, getting the outside post while his main competition is jammed inside. Stevens will decide where he wants to go, and I think he’s sitting on his best race yet.
I see two scenarios happening here: 1, American Pharoah gets aggressive and wires the field in impressive fashion, setting up another memorable Belmont. 2, Firing Line capitalizes on his draw, improves off his big Derby effort and runs the race of his life to win.
▪ Win: 8 (as long as Firing Line stays 3-1 or higher)
▪ Show: 7
▪ Exacta box: 1-8
▪ Superfecta: 1-8 over 1-8 over 2-7 over 2-4-6-7
▪ Superfecta box: 1-2-7-8
▪ “Break the bank” superfecta: 7 over 1-2-8 over 1-2-8 over ALL
Good luck and see you in three weeks for the Belmont!
Exacta Kenny is The Bee’s handicapper. Have a question, comment or hot tip, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The field for Saturday’s 140th Preakness Stakes, with post position, horse’s name, jockey’s name and odds. Post time is about 3:18 p.m. (KSEE, Ch. 24.1).
1. American Pharoah
3. Mr. Z
4. Danzig Moon
5. Tale of Verve
7. Divining Rod
8. Firing Line