Hard to get past Orb in Preakness

The Preakness is rarely if ever the wagering opportunity the Kentucky Derby is.

The field is half the size, and the public has relevant information staring it in the face, namely the Derby result.

From a betting perspective, my favorite Preakness' are when I don't like the Derby winner. That is not the case this year.

Orb looked much the best in Louisville, and the only way I can see beating him in Baltimore is to play him to bounce coming back in two weeks off a big effort. In that backup scenario, the fresh horse Departing will be my play.

Departing is an improving horse, and he encountered traffic in his only loss when 3rd in the Louisiana Derby. He also may have bled that day, as he got first-time Lasix in his next start when winning the Illinois Derby in solid fashion. It would be sweet irony if the Illinois Derby winner won the Preakness in the year that Churchill Downs Inc. inexplicably excluded the Illinois Derby from the Kentucky Derby qualifying system.

In addition to being my longshot upset pick, Departing is going to be my key underneath Orb in the vertical exotics. I think the Preakness, like the Derby, will set up well for off-the-pace types.

My other opinion going into Saturday's card at Pimlico is that Howe Great could be live at 12-1 in Race 11 the Dixie (G2). I really liked this Hat Trick (Jpn) colt early in his 3yo campaign. His development stalled out in the latter half of last year, but I thought his victory in a tough allowance race at Keeneland last month could signify a forward move in his development. I'll play him to hit the board and key him in the multi-race wagers.


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