The 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes will take place at the Pimlico track in Baltimore, as it always does, and we can expect conditions that may be even worse than what we saw at the Kentucky Derby a couple of weeks ago. As you are all well aware by now, it was Justify who romped through the mud in the Run for the Roses, taking the lead form the off and never relinquishing it. The performance that Justify put in at the Derby drew rave reviews, and deservedly so, but as we have seen in the past, winning the first jewel in the Triple Crown is no guarantee of future success. Only 12 horses have ever completed that feat, and only 23 in total have won the Derby and the Preakness. So for this Preakness Stakes, I imagine that you all have a winner picked out already, so let’s instead focus on the exacta wagering.
— Preakness Stakes (@PreaknessStakes) May 17, 2018
Playing a Basic Exacta at the Preakness Stakes
A lot of casual bettors skip the exotic bets because they feel that they are out of their betting range. This is not true at all, as you can get an exacta play on for as little as $1. In this case, you would be looking at trying to pick the exact order of finish of the top 2 horses. If you are all about Justify here, as so many of you probably are, then what you need to figure out is who is going to come in second.
The obvious choice for the second place spot would be Good Magic, who finished second to Justify in the Kentucky Derby. We are likely going to be looking at the same sloppy track as we got a couple of weeks back when Justify and Good Magic ran 1-2. It’s a shorter distance here, too, so the chances of a repeat look pretty good. If they do match the order of finish, the payout is not going to be great on a $1 wager, but you will still be in profit.
Hedging Your Exacta Bets at the Preakness Stakes
Even with a small field, there are still many things that can go wrong on a sloppy track. With that in mind, you may not necessarily want to go all in on Justify. Also, you may not want to take a shot at picking a straight exacta, as it is still tough to get right, even when you only have 8 horses running on Saturday.
There are several ways in which you can hedge your bets, the easiest of which is an exacta box. When playing a boxed exacta, I usually pick 3 horses. The top 2 can come from any of those 3 in any order to cash a winning ticket. The cost of a 3-horse exacta box would be just $6 on a $1 stake. My other pick here would be Quip. He has speed and the rail, which is always a very dangerous combination.
If you are still determined to take Justify on top but are concerned that one of those longshots might just thrive on the off track, I would suggest playing Justify (#7) on top with the rest of the field. That way, you win if Justify ends up victorious, no matter who finished second. Your ticket would be 7 with all and would cost you $7 on a $1 stake.