By Kevin Martin

It has been less than a year since a heavily favored Kentucky Derby winner flopped in the Preakness. To some (myself included), a win for Orb in last year’s Preakness, and a subsequent Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes, seemed a foregone conclusion. After an impressive win over a wet track in the Kentucky Derby, Orb looked ordinary in the Preakness and finished fourth, to the disappointment of many race fans.

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This year, California Chrome enters the Preakness with the same buzz as Orb last year. Could a similar fate await Chrome in the second leg of the Triple Crown? Of course it could. Anyone who knows horse racing wouldn’t be shocked if he gets beat — as they say, “Anything can happen in a horse race.” However, from a betting perspective he is the obvious choice in trying to build a winning ticket. California Chrome will offer no value in the win pool at odds of 3-5 or lower. That is why exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagers (the exotic bets) are the best place to invest in this year’s Preakness.

With a $100 bankroll, and the possibility of relatively short exotic payouts if California Chrome wins, it will not pay to hedge. That is why I will focus on just two other colts and play only two tickets.

Get Tickets To The Preakness Here.

Ride on Curlin had a terrible trip in the Kentucky Derby and still managed a respectable seventh place. Most importantly, he was among just a handful of colts still running hard in the stretch of the mile and a quarter race. His sire, Curlin, won the Preakness in 2007 so he has the class in his pedigree to perform well here. He has raced ten times in his career and has been solid in six graded stakes attempts against respectable competition. While California Chrome looks the best, Ride on Curlin is the best of the rest.

Kid Cruz will be making a huge jump in class entering the Preakness but his late running style makes him an intriguing longshot to use on trifecta and superfecta tickets. He won his last start over the Pimlico track last month after trailing by eight lengths early. He will likely leave the gate with the longest odds on the board so he would certainly enhance the payouts should he finish in the top four.

The second choice on the morning line, Social Inclusion, has only three career races and is a committed front runner in a race that will likely have a fast early pace. While he appears to be a colt with a bright future ahead, the Preakness is a tall order considering his lack of experience and a pace scenario that will not be in his favor.

Preview: California Chrome Headlines Preakness Stakes

The $100 Bet

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I will take my $100 bankroll and place two bets. The first is simple: I will put California Chrome over Ride on Curlin in an exacta for $80. To cash that bet, California Chrome will need to finish first and Ride on Curlin will need to come in second.

The second bet is a $10 trifecta: California Chrome keyed in the win position with Ride on Curlin and Kid Cruz boxed in the second and third positions. To cash this one, California Chrome needs to win and Ride on Curlin and Kid Cruz need to finish second and third in either order. It is a $10 bet but includes two possible outcomes so the total bet will be $20.

Here is a summary of the bet with program numbers:

  • $80 exacta: California Chrome (3) with Ride on Curlin (10)
  • $10 trifecta: California Chrome (3) with Ride on Curlin (10) and Kid Cruz (7) = $20


That’s it…we’ll keep it simple and root for California Chrome to take the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Of course, its more fun to make your own picks, you can learn do that at Hello Race Fans. You can also see a rundown of all the starters with their annual Preakness Cheat Sheet.

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

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