By Kevin Martin

The Kentucky Derby is where bettors cast a wide net and hope to catch a longshot or two to juice their multi-horse bets. The Preakness, with a shorter field and historically formful result, is where you need to narrow your focus and avoid hedging at the betting window.

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Nyquist will be the short priced and well deserving favorite in the Preakness. The second choice in the race, Exaggerator, has finished behind Nyquist four times in his ten race career. He finished second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby. Prior to that, Exaggerator won the Santa Anita Derby over a sloppy track in California. With heavy rains predicted in Baltimore for Saturday, the Preakness seems an opportune time for Exaggerator to finally turn the tables on Nyquist. However, there is nothing in Nyquist’s pedigree or past performances indicating that a wet track will slow him down. Exaggerator is a really good horse but Nyquist has shown that he is a potentially great one.

In looking at the field outside the top two, there is a profound drop off in talent. The only other colt exiting the Derby, Lani, finished ten lengths behind the top pair in Kentucky. The so-called “new shooters” were not good enough to qualify for the big race at Churchill Downs. The buzz horse from that group, Stradivari, has won his last two races by a combined twenty-five lengths but has only made three career starts and the Preakness will be his first attempt against stakes horses. A move up into stakes company is difficult enough, Stradivari has the unfortunate circumstance of jumping into the deep end against the most accomplished 3-year-old in the country.

The $100 Bet

The most probable result for this Saturday’s Preakness is a repeat of the Derby and there will be value in playing the top two in an exacta (the multi-horse bet where you pick the first and second place horses). In the last ten editions of the Preakness the exacta has never paid less than $18.20 on a $2 bet. It is likely that a Nyquist over Exaggerator exacta would pay less than that, but with the volume of money bet on the Preakness it won’t be much less. That is why my primary bet will be an $80 straight exacta bet.

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I’ll take the remaining $20 of my $100 bankroll and play a trifecta with the same top two and Fellowship in the third position. Fellowship is a late running longshot who should be passing tired horses in the stretch. He’s an intriguing play to get third place money at long odds.

How To Place The Bet

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When it comes to placing the wagers proposed here, it requires some knowledge in the language of betting on horse races. When placing a bet with a live teller at a racetrack or at an off-track betting facility, you need to use the track name, race number, type and amount of the bet, and the program number(s) for the horse(s) you are playing.

The $80 exacta with Nyquist finishing first and Exaggerator second would go like this:

“Pimlico race 13, $80 exacta 3 over the 5.” (The Preakness Stakes is the 13th race at Pimlico on Saturday)

The $20 trifecta adding Fellowship in the third position under the top two is bet as follows:

“Pimlico race 13, $20 straight trifecta 3, 5, 10.”

Good luck!

Of course, it’s more fun to make your own picks. You can learn how to do that at Hello Race Fans. They also have a cheat sheet with a rundown of all the Preakness starters as well as a look at payouts for bets on the Preakness Stakes since 1990

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Kevin Martin is the founder of the thoroughbred racing history site Colin’s Ghost and a contributing editor at Hello Race Fans