Preakness - Big Payoff Even if Big Brown Wins?


Hey boys, anybody out there ready to talk some Preakness?

After the week that racing fans had to endure, I know I am. Let's get right to it.

With only a week left until the second leg of the Triple Crown, the obvious question is: Can anyone challenge Big Brown? As it looks now, the Derby champ should have 11 challengers, maybe as many as 12. After the draw on Wednesday we'll break down each contender, but for now, let's tackle this from a purely betting standpoint.

As we all know, the Preakness isn't nearly as good a betting race as the Derby. Shorter fields and smaller pools are the obvious reasons. But after doing some research, I was surprised to find out that over the last 20 years, only eight Preakness favorites have won, and the $2 exacta has paid at least $65 eleven times. There is money to be made.

Of the 12 Preakness favorites who were beat, three of them were odds-on - Easy Goer (1989), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and, of course, Barbaro in 2006. I think we all agree that Big Brown will be an odds-on favorite next week and may go off as low as 2-5.

Can he get beat? Yes, obviously anything can happen in racing. But it is not likely to happen - not in a year in where the competition in relatively weak and not after seeing how dominating Big Brown was in the Derby.

There are some saying that he could bounce, considering he is lightly-raced and he will not have the benefit of training like he has in his other four starts. Personally, I don't think it will matter. He is just too talented and the rest of the field is too suspect. If he gets beat, it will most likely be in the Belmont.

So, if you agree Big Brown wins - at odds of 2-5 or lower - how do you play the race? Do you hammer him to win? Play a $100 cold exacta? Or, play the trifectas and supers, hoping a bomb or two take money?

Luckily, there will probably be at least 12 horses running. Only six times in the last 20 years has a field of 12 or more gone to post, meaning there is a decent chance that we can score a sizable tri or super even if Big Brown wins.

In 1995 when Timber Country won at less than 2-1, the tri still paid over $900. In 2001 when Point Given won as the favorite and four of the top five choices came in, the super still returned over $700. And as recently as 2005, when Afleet Alex won as the favorite, the super paid more than $10,000. So as you see, there is still hope of catching a nice ticket.

And if Big Brown somehow does lose, well, the word ‘IRS' comes to mind.

The question is, who is most likely to beat him?

** BTW - I guess everyone saw Casino Drive's performance in the Peter Pan? Wow. Looks like Mr. UPS could have a legitimate challenger in the Belmont after all.

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