Saturday, May 17, 2008

Preakness Thoughts

On a normal race day, without the hype surrounding a triple crown race, a horse like Big Brown, a standout in a large field, would most likely be either even money or perhaps 4-5. Granted, Big Brown is quite a standout, but at the same time there are horses everyday that tower over their competition and go off at much higher odds than the current 1-10 price Big Brown offers. Needless to say, when a horse's win odds offer about as much value as a nice yielding stock, it probably isn't the best bet. In fact, because of the minus pool (which basically insures that a winning bet pays a minimum of $2.10 for every $2 bet), it probably makes a lot more sense to bet Big Brown to show, and take your $2.10 instead of your $2.20 if he wins. It is amazing that both Pimlico and Magna Entertainment, who owns Pimlico, face the very real possibility of having to cover a large minus pool on the one day where a lot of money is bet on Pimlico races.

Ultimately, this just is not a great race to bet. If you are a fan of the sport, I would consider betting on a few other horses to win, with the hedge being that if Big Brown beats you, then you know you have a chance to witness history in three weeks at Belmont. If a horse like a Gayego were to run back to his Arkansas Derby, or horses like Macho Again and Kentucky Bear continue to improve, they would be within a couple of lengths of Big Brown's races. Remember, these are horses, and absolutely nothing is a sure thing. Two months ago, War Pass was 1-20 running in the Tampa Bay Derby, towering over his rivals on paper even more than Big Brown today, and he finished last without any real excuse. Barbaro was 1-2 two years ago at the Preakness, and of course we will never know what would have happened had he not broke down, but at the very least Bernardini would have given him a run for his money.

When I thought about this race earlier, I felt that even money or better would be a good price for Big Brown, which I knew would never happen because of the hype surrounding his Derby win. My feeling was he would be around 1/2, making this race a no play. At 1/10, the only play is to try to figure out who could win if Big Brown doesn't pick his feet up today. My list includes-

Macho Again
Tres Borrachos
Racecar Rhapsody
Kentucky Bear

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