Betting the exotics – like the exacta, trifecta or superfecta – is a great way to bring home big profits in the Triple Crown races. The fields are so big and the public attention is so strong that big payoffs are very possible. In order to seize those big payouts, you need to bet intelligently. That means that the way you bet exotics in the Preakness is different than the way you should do so in the Kentucky Derby. Here are five factors that make the Preakness unique for exotics bettors:
Derby winner becomes heavy public horse – The one thing you can be certain of is that the Kentucky Derby winner will be overbet in the Preakness. Whether he is a very good horse that deservedly won the biggest race in the world, or he benefited from the circumstances, the Derby winner will draw a lot of public action and will be at odds lower than he ideally should be. It’s hard to leave the Derby winner out of your betting when you are playing exotics – more than a third of Derby winners since 1978 have also won the Preakness – so that means you have to find a way to effectively deal with these low odds. When there is an absence of strong value in a thoroughbred you have to be certain that you don’t become overextended. Bettors need to be creative to minimize their investment while maximizing the potential return.
Strong Derby performance can elevate a horse – A horse that doesn’t win the Kentucky Derby can still see their public appeal rise significantly – and thanks to public attention, their odds fall – if he has a noteworthy performance. The 2012 Preakness provided a perfect example in two different cases. Bodemeister had led the Derby the whole way before getting caught by winner I’ll Have Another deep in the stretch. His speed and heart were wildly impressive, and he was installed as the Preakness favorite over the Derby winner. In that same Derby, Went the Day Well closed strong to finish fourth and seemed to have a lot left in the tank. He was installed as the third betting choice in the Preakness off that effort and was bet down heavily on Preakness day. When horses are bet down because of what they have done in the past you need to be aware of the lack of value and be careful not to bet too many combinations. There is no worse feeling for a handicapper than hitting a nice exotic and still losing money because you have bet too much.
Weak horses are easier to get into the field – The Derby is very hard to get into. All owners and trainers have Derby dreams, and only the top 20 earners can make the field. There are still some weaker horses in the race, but at least every horse entered has accomplished something significant to earn their spot. The Preakness is much easier to get into – especially if it is a year in which a lot of the Derby horses aren’t moving on. In the Derby it can be frightening to leave a lot of horses out of your exotics because any horse can be a factor – as Mine That Bird showed so dramatically. In the Preakness, though, there are frequently horses with practically no chance of being relevant or competitive in the race. Leaving those horses out of your exotics – especially in the top spots – is not only possible but usually smart.
Big gap between top and bottom – There are often two or three tiers of horses in the Preakness. There are those that were strong in the Derby and should be strong again, or the horses like Rachel Alexandra or Bernardini who are new to the Triple Crown trail but clearly elite. There are also horses that may have run disappointing races in the Derby and would need to be much better to be a factor. Lastly, there are the horses that just aren’t likely to compete. The gap between the top group and the bottom can be massive, and even the gap between the top group and the middle can be huge. Strong Preakness bettors will recognize these differences, and will craft their bets so that horses are only bet in the positions that they are likely to finish. Betting horses to finish above their likely potential is an expensive way to erode your bankroll.
Pace is less uncertain – In the Derby it is frequently unclear what the pace is likely to look like. In a race that big there is likely to be several speed horses, and the chaos of the situation can lead to a crazy early pace. All of the traffic in this Triple Crown race can make it hard for horses to run their ideal race as well. In the Preakness, however, the fields are smaller, the race is calmer, and the pace scenario is typically more obvious. Because of this it is often easier for the handicapper to imagine how the race will turn out and to craft their tickets to reflect that.