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Preakness Stakes Betting News and Notes

Preakness Stakes Betting News and Notes

Capping the Preakness Stakes Top Betting Favorites

As we get ready for the second leg of the Triple Crown, here is a look at the likely top three Preakness favorites:

California Chrome (-150)

What do we really need to say about this horse? He was the dominating winner of the Kentucky Derby and the clear and likely very overwhelming favorite here. You can’t question that he’s by far the best horse in this field. The challenge, though, is to question whether there is any betting value in what will be a very low price.

The biggest reason for concern is the pace scenario. He likes to sit just off the early pace - pressing it without setting it. In the Derby, that early pace was ridiculously and surprisingly slow for a race of that caliber, so the favorite was able to relax and conserve his energy. By the time he made his move there was no stopping him.

In the Preakness, though, he will face a much more aggressive early pace. Social Inclusion, Bayern and Pablo Del Monte will all be pushing the pace and the top two have the ability to be very fast. If California Chrome can’t relax in the face of that attack there could be issues. He’s clearly the best horse, he’s probably going to win, but our inclination is to look for ways to beat him in my handicapping.

Social Inclusion (+600)

This horse has only raced three times, but it was his second outing that has captured the imaginations of race fans. In an allowance field at Gulfstream with a solid, talented field he absolutely exploded around the final turn to win by 10 lengths.

He jumped up in class next time out to make his stakes debut in the Wood Memorial. He wound up third behind Derby entrants Wicked Strong and Samraat, but it was a tough race and one that this horse could easily move forward from.

If the horse had made the Kentucky Derby field, he would have been bet to win, so he’s an obvious factor in this one - clearly second best. I’m a little concerned about the early pace he could face, but he is training well and is rested, and should be ready for the test. Head-to-head the favorite is likely better, but this is the horse California Chrome should fear most.

Bayern (+1,000)

The similarities between the stories of Bayern and Social Inclusion are striking. Both rose to national attention on the strength of a stunning allowance win second time out - a 15 length romp at Santa Anita in this case. Both came back to finish third in their stakes debut - the Arkansas Derby here. Both are fast and very talented, but immature and inexperienced, and haven’t put it all together yet when it matters.

Bayern has had another race, though. When it looked like the Derby wasn’t going to work for him, trainer Bob Baffert instead entered him in the Derby Trial at CHurchill Downs. He won that race by a nose, but was placed second after a lousy ride from jockey Rosie Napravnik that earned her a three day suspension.

This horse is a touch behind Social Inclusion and the odds reflect that, but he has been working exceptionally well and will have benefitted from the extra race. The distance and an early pace are concerns, but if the horse does go off at or near this price then you’d have to factor him prominently in your exotic bets.

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Three live long-shot bets for the 2014 Preakness Stakes

California Chrome is going to be an overwhelming Preakness favorite. If you don’t like betting for such small returns then you might want to look for long shots. Here are three Preakness live long shots worth a look:

Kid Cruz (+1,500)

One of the most challenging factors about handicapping the Preakness is that it is quite rare for a horse to have seen the track before. Pimlico is a backwater in the racing world outside of the third Saturday in May, so prominent horses and trainers don’t typically race there - especially not before Triple Crown season.

This horse, then, has a nice advantage - not only has he raced at Pimlico, but he has won impressively. That result came in the Federico Tesio Stakes. That’s far from a top level prep for three year olds, but it did produce 2011 Belmont winner Ruler on Ice in 2011.

This horse is facing a massive jump up in class, but he’s talented and, beyond the certain comfort with the track, he has another advantage. He likes to run off the pace. Given both the amount of speed and the quality of that speed in this race, things could potentially really set up well for a horse off the pace if things blow up in front. I’d like this horse a lot better at 20/1 or better, but he’s intriguing.

General A Rod (+2,000)

I liked this horse going into the Kentucky Derby, but he had a rough day and finished 11th. Despite that frustration, there are a few reasons to take a look at the horse again here.

For starters, he was not initially pointed to this race, but the decision was made at the end of the first week between the races to enter him. That means that he came out of the Derby particularly well and is looking good.

Second, and most significantly, be willing to toss the Derby result right out. He’s a horse that likes to be contesting the early pace in his races. For some reason, though, jockey Joel Rosario was very passive early in the Kentucky Derby, holding to the back of the field. Perhaps it was to avoid the pace duel that should have emerged but didn’t, but the decision really didn’t work for the horse. He looked uncomfortable, and though he was moving forward at the end he never really recovered.

It was a lost race, but not one that took a lot out of him. He has a new jockey here. With a better strategy and a better race he could be a factor here. This price is too high.

Ria Antonia (+3,200)

Sometimes things makes so little sense that you almost start to believe that there could be some wisdom behind them.

This filly was a non-factor in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby. In recent years, the great Rachel Alexandra and Rags To Riches have come out of that race to win Triple Crown races, but the only thing Ria Antonia has in common with those two is her gender.

This filly has her name engraved on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies trophy, but she only finished second and was moved up because of a disqualification. She was disappointing next time out and her owner took her from trainer Jeremy Englehart and put her with Bob Baffert.

After the Oaks, Baffert reportedly thought the Preakness was a bad idea, but the owner was determined, so the horse moved again - this time to the stable of Tom Amoss. That soap opera can’t help the horse, and she seems to be about eight or ten lengths too slow to be a factor here.

Still, there is talent and the crazy determination of the owner could come from a place of faith and knowledge instead of idiocy. She’s very unlikely to be a factor, but she’s like a train wreck - I just can’t look away.

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2014 Preakness Stakes Handicapping Tips

Now that the Preakness Stakes nearly here, before you wonder about which horse to take to win the second leg of the Triple Crown, here are some tips to help you with your choice. The Preakness takes place two weeks after the Kentucky Derby at Pimlico race course in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Preakness Stakes is the key race to determine whether there is a chance at a Triple Crown winner. Of course, chances are that there won't be a Triple Crown winner since there hasn't been one since 1978 when Affirmed outdueled rival Alydar to win the Belmont, Preakness and Kentucky Derby.

Differences between the Preakness and other other two Triple Crown races?

What makes the Preakness different than the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont is the size of the field, the distance and there other factors that you have to look at when handicapping the Preakness. 

Size of the Field

The Kentucky Derby field is capped at 20 horses while the Preakness has just 14 and this year might be less than that. Having six fewer (or more) horses is significant because the outside horses don't have to start nearly as far from the rail. There are also fewer horses looking for each piece of real estate around the track. In the Preakness, there is less traffic than the Derby. Trouble trips are almost guaranteed in a Derby and that's less of a concern at Pimlico.

Distance is an Issue

The Preakness is 9.5 furlongs, while the Kentucky Derby is 10 furlongs. It takes a horse about 12 seconds to run a furlong, so one-sixteenth of a mile is about six seconds of running time. A lot of horses are bred for speed over stamina and the Derby distance is just too much for many of them. In fact, many horses can't handle the distance. At the end of the Derby, the horses are physically spent. That's not the case in the Preakness where the distance is much shorter. In the Derby, if there is a horse with stamina concerns, you might not want to consider him, but in the Preakness, stamina is not an issue.

Horses can overcome a bad Derby 

Horses that had a poor Kentucky Derby trip can overcome it and perform well in the Preakness Stakes. A horse that is distracted by the distance, the weather conditions or pace, could come back and have a great trip at Pimlico. There are several examples of horses that bounce back from a bad Derby to win the Preakness. Point Given finished a disappointing fifth in the Kentucky Derby and then dominated the Preakness and the Belmont. Afleet Alex was one of the favorites in the 2005 Kentucky Derby and finished third by a length. He ended up winning the last two legs of the Triple Crown. Hansel was the favorite of the 1991 Kentucky Derby but finished 10th. He also won the Belmont and Kentucky Derby.

In 2013, Oxbow broke fifth and maintained his position near the front, and at the top of the homestretch passed the tired-out speed horses to lead the race for a sixteenth of a mile. However, he then faded and finished in sixth place, six lengths behind winner Orb. Two weeks later, Oxbow went on to win the Preakness Stakes.

Horses that don't run in the Derby normally don't fare well

From 1986 to 2013, 23 of 28 winners of the Preakness had previously run in the Kentucky Derby. Rachel Alexandra was an example of a horse that ran in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby, while Benardini and Red Bullet are the exceptions. Most of the newcomers are usually not worthy of picking as a winner. If they were great, they would have run in the Derby. Fresh horses don't usually mean good bets.

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What the past performances won’t tell you about Saturday’s Preakness Stakes
By: Mike Wilkening

With a victory in Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, California Chrome will become the 10th horse in 25 tries since 1989 to win the first two events of horse racing’s Triple Crown series (see chart below).

The 3-to-5 morning-line favorite, California Chrome is one of 10 entrants in the Preakness, which will be run at a mile-and-three-sixteenths on dirt.

Post time is 6:18 p.m. ET, with NBC beginning its coverage at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Below is a look at the Preakness field. The horses are listed in order of the number each will wear on Saturday, not their odds:

No. 1: Dynamic Impact (morning-line odds: 12-to-1)

Trainer: Mark Casse

Jockey: Miguel Mena

Assessment: This colt has started to show improvement with age and in longer races. Along with General a Rod, California Chrome and Social Inclusion, Dynamic Impact is one four Preakness entrants to have run a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 or greater in his career, earning a 102 Beyer in a nose victory in the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby on April 19. The No. 1 post could pose a challenge for Dynamic Impact — according to the Daily Racing Form, horses breaking from posts No. 1 or 2 are 0-of-34 at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles in the last 10 years at Pimlico. Also, as of May 14, only one horse had won rallying up the rail at Pimlico this month, according to The Form. Dynamic Impact looks likely to be no closer than mid-pack when the horses settle in for the run up the backstretch.

No. 2: General a Rod (morning-line odds: 15-to-1)

Trainer: Michael Maker

Jockey: Javier Castellano (won 2006 Preakness on Bernardini)

Assessment: Of the 18 horses defeated by California Chrome two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, only General a Rod (11th) and Ride On Curlin (seventh) have returned to face the Kentucky Derby winner in Baltimore. General a Rod had far from an ideal trip in the Derby — he was well back in the field, had to deal with dirt in his face and was in tight quarters in deep stretch. He has shown a little less early speed as the races have grown longer, and like Dynamic Impact, he has to work out a trip from an inside draw. However, 13 of the last 25 Preakness winners were coming off Kentucky Derby losses.

No. 3: California Chrome (morning-line odds: 3-to-5)

Trainer: Art Sherman

Jockey: Victor Espinoza (won 2002 Preakness on War Emblem)

Assessment: Rolled to a 1 3/4-length victory in the Kentucky Derby and was not even asked for his best when the outcome was no longer in doubt inside the sixteenth-pole. He has special tactical speed — he’s fast enough to go to the lead if needed, as he showed in a brilliant performance in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 8. In the Derby, though, California Chrome sat third, took over around the quarter pole and left his challengers behind.

California Chrome has been dealing with a throat blister and coughed a little on Thursday, but assistant trainer Alan Sherman has indicated all is well with the colt, who has won five races in a row and does not face the second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place Derby finishers in Baltimore.

“The horse is completely fine,” Sherman said. “His blood work came back perfect. He coughed about four times today and we got him checked out right away. The blister isn’t going to affect him at all; the vet said there were absolutely no other problems, nothing else going on.”

In perhaps another positive sign regarding his fitness, California Chrome has gained 35 pounds after the Derby, Sherman estimated this week, according to Pimlico’s media notes.

No. 4: Ring Weekend (morning-line odds: 20-to-1)

Trainer: Graham Motion

Jockey: Alan Garcia

Assessment: Ring Weekend’s biggest win came in the March 8 Tampa Bay Derby, when he was sent to the lead, kicked away and held safe for a three-length triumph. However, he was a disappointing second, beaten 9 ¾ lengths, in the April 8 Calder Derby. Ring Weekend was removed from Kentucky Derby consideration because of a fever, but he returned to work three-quarters of a mile on May 10. Trainer Motion has had 2-of-5 Preakness starters hit the board (Animal Kingdom in 2011, Icabad Crane in 2008). Ring Weekend would be the first gelding to win the Preakness since the famous Funny Cide in 2003.

No. 5: Bayern (morning-line odds: 10-to-1)

Trainer: Bob Baffert (won 1997 Preakness with Silver Charm, 1998 Preakness with Real Quiet, 2001 Preakness with Real Quiet, 2002 Preakness with War Emblem and 2010 Preakness with Lookin At Lucky)

Jockey: Rosie Napravnik

Assessment: Baffert has been outstanding in the Preakness, with 7-of-14 starters hitting the board and five winning outright. However, all seven of those horses had contested the Kentucky Derby as well, whereas Bayern last raced in the April 26 Derby Trial. Though Bayern finished first in the Derby Trial, he was disqualified to second after drifting toward the middle of the track. Baffert will remove the blinkers for this start, which seems a sound move; Bayern has good early speed, but it all comes down to how far he can carry it. Bayern has never won beyond a distance of a mile, and his worst finish (third, beaten 5 ¼ lengths) came in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby on April 12.

No. 6: Ria Antonia (morning-line odds: 30-to-1)

Trainer: Tom Amoss

Jockey: Calvin Borel (won 2009 Preakness on Rachel Alexandra)

Assessment: The only filly in the race, Ria Antonia was moved from Baffert to Amoss after a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. Ria Antonia will run without blinkers in the Preakness, and she gets the services of Borel, who’s known for his work on late runners, so she could be farther back than in other races. Ria Antonia will carry 121 pounds, five less than the nine male horses in the race. Amoss has had two Preakness starters, and both ran respectably, with Mylute finishing third in 2013 and Hot Wells running fourth in 1998. Five fillies out of 53 starters have won the Preakness, including Rachel Alexandra five years ago.

No. 7: Kid Cruz (morning-line odds: 20-to-1)

Trainer: Linda Rice

Jockey: Julian Pimentel

Assessment: Looking for a closer? This is your horse. Looking for a horse with a win at Pimlico to his credit? Kid Cruz also fits the bill. However, this is Kid Cruz’s first graded-stakes race, and his propensity to lag behind early could leave him in a challenging position if the pace is slow, leaving those close to the lead with more late energy. Note that Pimentel is the only jockey in the race who has regularly ridden at Pimlico this spring.

No. 8: Social Inclusion (morning-line odds: 5-to-1)

Trainer: Manuel Azpurua

Jockey: Luis Contreras

Assessment: Social Inclusion emerged as a three-year-old to watch with a 10-length win at Gulfstream Park in March, earning a 110 Beyer, the career-best of any horse in the Preakness field. In the Wood Memorial on April 5, Social Inclusion had the lead in the stretch but was passed by Wicked Strong (fourth in the Derby) and Samraat (fifth in the Derby), losing by 3½ lengths as the 8-to-5 favorite. Social Inclusion scratched out of a small stakes race on May 3 at Gulfstream with a foot issue. However, he soon resumed training and drilled a half-mile in a quick 47 seconds at Pimlico on May 12. Social Inclusion figures to be on or near the pace, and his early speed and outside post position could give him a nice clean trip. The question is, how will he fare in the final three-sixteenths?

No. 9: Pablo Del Monte (morning-line odds: 20-to-1)

Trainer: Wesley Ward

Jockey: Jeffrey Sanchez

Assessment: Finished a solid third in the April 12 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, beaten 3½ lengths and finishing behind Dance With Fate (sixth in Kentucky Derby) and Medal Count (eighth in Derby). Like multiple runners in the race, he has shown he has the speed to be near the pace. Has never won on dirt or at a distance of longer than 6½ furlongs, and Ward’s previous two Preakness entrants finished no better than 11th.

No. 10: Ride On Curlin (morning-line odds: 10-to-1)

Trainer: William Gowan

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Assessment: Finished seventh, beaten 6 ¾ lengths, in the Kentucky Derby. Had one of the more memorable trips of a Derby also-ran of recent years, diving to the rail to begin the race, getting caught in traffic when making a nice run up the inside with a quarter mile left in the journey, then finishing the race widest of any horse in the field. After all of that, Ride On Curlin has a new rider for the Derby, with Rosario replacing Borel. Ride On Curlin is an honest, try-hard sort who’s been competitive throughout his three-year-old campaign, but he has yet to win a stakes race.

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Preakness Stakes Breakdown
By Anthony Stabile

The second leg of the "Triple Crown" takes place this Saturday as California Chrome will square off against nine other horses from Pimlico Race Course.

Below is my complete breakdown for the 139th Preakness Stakes!

1 - Dynamic Impact 12/1 Miguel Mena (Debut) Mark Casse (Debut)

Notes: The first of seven runners that didn’t try to topple California Chrome in Louisville that will in Baltimore. Won the Illinois Derby last out which is now used as more of a Preakness prep than as one for the Derby since it offers no points for the Derby. He gutted out a win from his rail draw that day over Derby prep vet Midnight Hawk in just his first start since breaking his maiden, which took him five tries. My problem is Midnight Hawk didn’t have the best trip that day and is probably a miler at best. He received gaudy speed figs all around but to me he’s more filler than thriller in here.

2 - General a Rod 15/1 Javier Castellano (1-2) Mike Maker (Debut)

Only one of two coming back to take another crack at the Derby winner from the Run for the Roses, his connections actually waited several days before announcing their intentions to run here. Like almost every Derby starter, he did encounter some traffic trouble but that’s because the wicked early pace we all expected never materialized and he wound up battling with eight horses for a spot most thought three would be vying for. Save the minor trouble, he raced evenly and never made a serious run. Reunited with Castellano, who was aboard for his second place finish in the Fountain of Youth and won this in 2006 with Bernardini. I guess this is a logical spot for him because I’m not sure what you’d do with him otherwise. Honestly, though, is that the reason you want to give for liking a horse in an American classic? It’s not one I’d want to admit to. I’m passing on him.

3 - California Chrome 3/5 Victor Espinoza (1-5) Art Sherman (Debut)

Gutsy job, making him 3-5 on the morning line but that’s about the price he’ll be. Amazingly, he worked out another perfect trip in the Derby and parlayed it into a fairly easy score, with Espinoza pulling him up in the latter stages to presumably save something for Baltimore. Well, he’s been in Baltimore for a bit, seems to be training well but didn’t work between races. His connections keep talking about how the running back in two weeks isn’t ideal. No kidding, genius, it’s the Triple Crown. This isn’t supposed to be easy but it’s been this way for decades. No one is springing this on you at the last minute. I do not like how they keep bringing it up which leads me to believe they don’t think he can do it and, more importantly, there is a reason he can’t do it. And, at some point, doesn’t his run of great luck HAVE to run out? It may have at the draw as he’s posted inside all of the other real speed horses. I’m curious as to whether they try to protect the rail or lets the speed go and cross over in front of him. Either way, it looks like he’s destined for a less than ideal trip. I haven’t liked him all season. Why start now? He can certainly win but if he does I won’t be cashing. I will use him underneath in my gimmick wagers, however, just not on top.

4 - Ring Weekend 20/1 Alan Garcia (0-2) Graham Motion (0-5)

Was all set to do battle in the Derby before spiking a fever and coming down with a slight infection the week before the race. His scratch enabled fellow West Point runner Commanding Curve into the Derby and he rewarded the team with a lights-out performance to be second at a huge price. As for this guy, he looked great wiring the Tampa Bay Derby field then had a wild trip in the Calder Derby, getting off slow and almost run into off of the far turn. Motion kept him at fair Hill as long as he could and didn’t’ arrive at Pimlico until the last possible day, Thursday. M biggest problem with him is that I think he wants the lead and he can’t get it under any circumstance in here. I’m passing.

5 - Bayern 10/1 Rosie Napravnik (0-1) Bob Baffert (5-14)

I’ve mentioned it a dozen times already but it’s worth mentioning again just to prove how fragile these horses can be. Baffert, at one point or another, had New Year’s Day, Midnight Hawk, Tap It Rich, Indianapolis, The Admiral, Bayern, and Hoppertunity on the Triple Crown trail and wound up running just Chitu in the Derby. Perhaps, Bayern is his best and he better hope he is because he seems to be all that’s left in the cupboard. Controversially DQed in the Derby Trial when he herded the second runner (he NEVER comes down in NY) a week before the Derby, which all but crushed his hopes at a run for the roses. Talent doesn’t appear to be a question but he does lack a touch of seasoning and I’m starting to think he has some distance limitations. Baffert, who seemingly owns this race with five wins, chooses Napravnik over guys like Mike Smith and Gary Stevens and I think it’s a good move considering Rosie will likely get this horse to settle off the pace the best of the three (Did I really just say that?). Not sure about the win end but I wouldn’t be stunned if he’s part of the trifecta or superfecta.

6 - Ria Antonia 30/1 Calvin Borel (1-3) Tom Amoss (0-2)

At first glance it seems ridiculous her connections are running her here. She hasn’t crossed the wire first since the middle of last year and her biggest career score came via DQ in the B.C. Juvenile Fillies. On top of that, she’s winless in three tries this year including an off the board finish in the Kentucky Oaks behind Untapable last out. Her owner says Untapable is the best sophomore in the land and that he’d rather try the boys than her again. I sort of see where he is coming from. This filly is a one paced type of horse that is going to run the same race regardless of the company she keeps, in my opinion. I guess he’d rather run third or fourth here then second or third in the Acorn or Mother Goose. That convoluted logic makes some sense to me. He gets Borel, who won this aboard the fabulous filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Keep in mind that Amoss is her FOURTH trainer in less than a year. I get the logic but don’t agree with the assessment. I’m tossing her out.

7 - Kid Cruz 20/1 Julian Pimentel (0-1) Linda Rice (Debut)

When I break down these big races, there always seems to be certain categories I like to cover. There is the “horse for the course,” “the money burner,” “the wild card” and the dreaded “wiseguy” horse. This guy is definitely the wild card. There is plenty of pace signed up in here for him to properly utilize his late kick. His jock knows the track better than anyone and he owns a win in the local prep for this. No horse that’s won that prep, the Tesio, has come back to win the Preakness in 31 years since Deputed Testimony did it in 1983 and while I’m not sure he’s good enough to do it a piece of the pie isn’t out of the question.

8 - Social Inclusion 5/1 Luis Contreras (Debut) Manny Azpurua (Debut)

When we turn the calendar to 2015 in less than eight months and look back on this crop of three-year-olds there is a very good chance the answer to the “who was the best?” question will be this guy In just three races he’s shown he’s fast in his debut, can carry his speed over a distance with a track record performance in start two and overcame a bad post and not having things his own way when a game third in the Wood Memorial against a far more accomplished and seasoned bunch. He didn’t have enough Derby points to run in Louisville, which at the time appeared to be a blessing in disguise. But if you’d have told me they would go a :47 and change half mile and you’d have let me bet on this colt, I wouldn’t have saved money for socks. He had been battling a minor foot bruise but that looks to be behind him. He’s drawn beautifully, should love this course which has historically been kind to speedier types if not anything else and is fresh as a daisy. The Preakness pick.

9 - Pablo Del Monte 20/1 Jeffrey Sanchez (Debut) Wesley Ward (0-2)

So they enter this guy in the Derby knowing he’ll be an AE, he draws in and they scratch anyway not wanting to run from post 20. Did they think this was old harness racing rules and that they’d get the post of the scratched horse? Knuckleheads!! I have no idea what this horse is doing here. His conventional dirt form is decent at best and I don’t think he wants a step past a mile against good horses. He can throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing, however, if he’s just gunned out of there and tries to make the lead at all costs. I sure hope that’s not the plan. Complete toss out.

10 - Ride On Curlin 10/1 Joel Rosario (0-2) Billy Gowan (Debut)

He got seriously “Boreled” in the Derby, immediately taken back to last and dropped over to the inside in anticipation of making one big run from the back of the back with Calvin hootin’ and hollerin’ in some nonsensical tongue that only he understands. The problem is those weren’t the instructions. The horse hates running inside of horses. Borel is Borel though – a one trick pony – so that’s the ride you get. But now he gets the master, Mr. Rosario. After a year of crazy trips I’m sure he’ll get a beautiful one in the Preakness. He’s drawn outside, there is plenty of speed and he should be running as they approach the far turn. A serious contender I’m using him on all of my tickets and Pick 4s.

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Re: Preakness Stakes Betting News and Notes

Preakness Stakes Betting: Horse-by-Horse Preview and Picks
By Bill Cloutier

If California Chrome could save time in a bottle, the first thing he'd probably do would be to fire the clockers at Churchill Downs. The Chromie's time was one of the slowest ever for a Kentucky Derby winner a couple of weeks ago.

But, despite the pedestrian time of 2:03.66 (slowest winning time on a fast track since 1974) we're still pretty high on California Chrome's chances to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed pulled off the hat trick in 1978. That's mainly because the rest of the three-year-old class is mediocre, save for the filly Untapable, who remains steadfast against running against the males.

Here's a look at the 10-horse field for the 139th running of the Preakness at Pimlico Saturday:

1. Dynamic Impact (jockey-M. Mena, odds-12-1): Broke his maiden in March and then came back to win the Illinois Derby posting a Beyer number of 102. He's quick and improving but seems easily outclassed here.

2. General a Rod (J. Castellano, 15-1): Endured a troubled-trip in the Kentucky Derby, the first time in his six career starts that he didn't hit the board. Jockey Joel Rosario opted to take the mount on Ride On Curlin, which shows you which horse he likes better.

3. California Chrome (V. Espinoza, 3-5): The California-bred carries a five-race winning streak into the second jewel of the Triple Crown and looms the clear choice. The key will be how Espinoza rates him as there is plenty of early speed in the race and CC likes to be near the front. Five Kentucky Derby winners have won the Preakness in the past dozen years.

4. Ring Weekend (A. Garcia, 20-1): Once a favorite in the Kentucky Derby futures pools, this colt figured to be one of the top contenders for the Run for the Roses after his win in the Tampa Bay Derby. That's when things went downhill as he was routed in the Calder Derby by nine lengths as the heavy chalk and then came down with a fever. Well-bred, but would be a surprise.

5. Bayern (R. Naparavnik, 10-1): Disappointed as the 8/5 favorite in the Arkansas Derby after setting an easy pace. In his next start, he won the Derby Trial, albeit against a soft field, but was disqualified for drifting out in the stretch. Trainer Bob Baffert is taking the blinkers off his colt again looking to get this one to run straight. Has good early speed.

6. Ria Antonia (C. Borel, 30-1): Here's one filly unafraid to run with the boys. Took sixth in the Kentucky Oaks but could hardly see the winner (Untapable) at the finish. Best run was a second at the Santa Anita Oaks and is a decided long shot with little hope of becoming the sixth filly to win the Preakness.

7. Kid Cruz (J. Pimentel, 20-1): Only runner in the field to have raced at Pimlico and it was a win in the Tesio Stakes in mid-April. Trainer Linda Rice, a favorite of horseplayers at Saratoga in the summer, is just the 15th female to saddle a Preakness entry. His highest speed figures, however, pales in comparison to the contenders.

8. Social Inclusion (L. Contreras, 5-1): The speed gurus rate this lightly-raced colt strongly but a bruised foot could hamper his chances. Still, he was third in the Wood setting the pace as the 8/5 favorite and was beaten only by well-meant Kentucky Derby runners Wicked Strong and Samraat. If he's healthy he should be fresh and he set the track record at Gulfstream for 1 1/16th miles in March. A true threat.

9. Pablo Del Monte (J. Sanchez, 20-1): Drew into the Kentucky Derby when Hoppertunity was scratched but trainer Wesley Ward decided against running him especially when he was going to have to start from Post 20. Took third in the Bluegrass Stakes and has good early speed but his speed figures are not impressive.

10. Ride On Curlin (J. Rosario, 10-1): Could be the wise guy's choice after a troubled second in the Arkansas Derby and even more problems in the Kentucky Derby where he finished a hard-charging seventh by just six lengths after an inexcusable rail ride by Calvin Borel. One of just three horses in the field to come back after running in the Derby and he has had valid excuses.

Picks: California Chrome, Social Inclusion, Ride on Curlin, General a Rod

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Re: Preakness Stakes Betting News and Notes

2014 Preakness Stakes Weather Update: Rain likely to hold off   
By Anthony Rome      

BALTIMORE, MD (The Spread) - Following a rain-soaked Friday in the Baltimore, Maryland area, the 2014 Preakness Stakes is scheduled to see good weather.

Steady rain hit Maryland around midnight on Friday and torrential storms were scheduled to hit the area throughout the day and leading up to Saturday's race at Pimlico. But according to, it looks like rain-free weather is forecasted today and the Preakness' track will be unaffected by the conditions.

Two inches of rain did soak the area on Friday, which should have caught the attention of bettors. Rain and wind can have an adverse affect on horse racing and had a storm hit Maryland ahead of today's Preakness, then the field could have been leveled due to a muddy track. But as things stand now, the dirt should be dry and the track should run fast.

With post time set for 6:20PM ET today, the forecasted weather is 67 degrees and partly cloudy. While wind could still be a factor, the race should play true and thus, the odds for today's race are unlikely to be affected.

According to oddsmakers from online sports book BetDSI, California Chrome remains the favorite to win today's Preakness at 5/9 odds. He's coming off a win at the Kentucky Derby and has now won five straight starts. Social Inclusion has the next-best odds at 13/2, while Bayern is 12/1.

Bet the 2014 Preakness Stakes

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Re: Preakness Stakes Betting News and Notes

Preakness Picks – Three Handicappers Offer Selections
By: The Linemakers

California Chrome, with morning line odds of 3-to-5, is the overwhelming favorite to win the 139th Preakness Stakes and keep his Triple Crown bid alive. If he gets the job done on Saturday, he’ll become the 13th horse since 1978 to take the first two legs of the Triple Crown. No horse since Affirmed in 1978, though, has been able to complete the sweep with a win at the Belmont Stakes.

There’ll be plenty of folks – including the books in Las Vegas – cheering for California Chrome, as a Triple Crown bid heading into the Belmont has a tremendous impact on the interest in horse racing. But if betting an odds-on favorite isn’t your thing and your money is elsewhere on Saturday, you'll be in a different camp.

We’ve asked three horse racing writers for their Preakness picks, and two of them are taking shots against California Chrome.

Here are their selections …

Richard Eng, Las Vegas Review-Journal

California Chrome is the best horse in the race and will win the Preakness, Richard writes in the Review-Journal. If California Chrome grinds out his own fractions to the top of the stretch and stays in the clear, his late kick should get the job done.

General a Rod was hit hard at the beginning of the Derby and pretty much lost all chance early on. But this is a pretty good race horse who ran well in the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth – a classy animal.

Social Inclusion didn’t compete in the Derby and new shooters tend not to fare well in the Preakness, but sometimes you get a diamond. He set a track record in winning an allowance race at Gulfstream Park, and he was third in the Wood Memorial. He’s very fast and he could spring an upset.

Ride On Curlin had a tough journey in the Kentucky Derby. Calvin Borel took him over to the rail, and he had trouble getting some racing room. When he finally got him free at the top of the stretch, he gained a lot of ground, but it was too late.

Brad Telias, Sporting News contributor

Social Inclusion has shown an ability to run as fast, perhaps faster, than many of his peers, including the Derby champ. He skipped Louisville for the shorter middle jewel, and his connections expect top Canadian rider Luis Contreras to take the morning-line second choice wire-to-wire.

Bayern is another speedball looking to go right to the front and stay there. The colt missed the Derby with a sore hoof. But five-time Preakness winning trainer Bob Baffert has him finely-tuned coming back. Hometown Baltimore favorite Rosie Napravnik will ride, which shouldn't hurt a bit.

California Chrome has clearly demonstrated an ability to beat this year's crop of sophomores but faces a different scenario against some speedy newcomers in the top two that will leave jockey Victor Espinoza looking for another dimension. Add the short two-week turn around, along with the recent recurrence of a blistered throat, and there are legitimate concerns.

Mike Wilkening, The Linemakers contributor

Bayern. Baffert will remove the blinkers for this start, which seems a sound move. Bayern has good early speed, and can carry it gate-to-wire.

California Chrome was not even asked for his best when the outcome was no longer in doubt inside the sixteenth-pole. He has special tactical speed — he’s fast enough to go to the lead if needed, as he showed in a brilliant performance in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 8. In the Derby, though, Chrome came from just off the pace.

General a Rod had far from an ideal trip in the Derby — he was well back in the field, had to deal with dirt in his face and was in tight quarters in deep stretch

Kid Cruz fits the bill if you're looking for a closer or for a horse with a win over the Pimlico track. Julian Pimentel is the only jockey in the race who has regularly ridden at Pimlico this spring.

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