• The beat goes on among a common refrain

    POSTED May 17, 2013

    The Triple Crown Insider Preakness preview echoes how many feel about this year's race.

    After waxing poetic about many of Orb's eight foes, Joel Cunningham finally gets the question point blank from Jon Siegel, "Does Orb win the Preakness?"

    "I think Orb wins, Jon; he just keeps getting better."

    There are reasons why any of the nine horses in this year's Preakness could win, but there's little disagreement among racing's cognoscenti that Orb is the most likely to do so. I pegged his fair odds of winning at even money (50/50, a coin flip), and I'd play him to win at 6-to-5 or better.

    Unfortunately, I think he'll be 4-to-5, which means no win bet, but a projected underlay in one pool doesn't mean there won't be opportunities elsewhere. The $1.5-million guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4, for instance, features competitive races in which I expect at least one race to produce a $20+ payout.

    The 2004 Preakness Pick 4 paid 751-to-1 with 7-to-10 Smarty Jones completing a sequence of two second choices and the $24.80 Mr. O'Brien. Even if you had spent $250 singling Smarty Jones to get there, you still managed to turn 7-to-10 into 2-to-1, and a similar situation could occur on Saturday with Orb. (Plus TwinSpires.com players have a shot at an extra $10,000).

    Vertically speaking things get tough. Wheeling Orb in the exacta doesn't make a lot of sense because only Titletown Five will provide the possibility of a rainmaker. $8 to win on Orb is likely to pay $14-$16, and several of the $1 exactas will pay less than that. However, if you're willing to toss a few (as I am) then you could do OK. I'll watch the board, but if any horse not named Departing or Titletown Five is paying $20+ underneath Orb then that will be a bet for me. $6 to win on Orb is in the $10-$11 range, so taking that six and trying to get $20 (but maybe even settling for $15) seems fair value to me.

    The other side of all this is that if Orb is an underlay in the win pool then there is likely an overlay or two as well--especially since both Departing, Mylute, Oxbow, and Titletown Five are likely underlays as well. Part of my strategy with singling Orb in most multi-race plays will be to leverage overlays in the Preakness win pools. I.e., I think a horse like Mylute will be more overbet in the win pool than other pools.

    This approach inhibits the chance at a BIG SCORE, but with only 9 horses in the race, few total throwouts, and a legitimate favorite the chance for a BIG SCORE was mitigated, anyway. I'm happy to grind a profit and be ready with guns blazing for the Triple Crown try in three weeks. 

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