Value Play

With a handful of unknown 3-year-olds running a mile and a quarter for the first time in their lives, the payout for the Kentucky Derby sometimes breaks the board at Churchill Downs on that wonderful first Saturday in May.

It doesn’t usually work that way at the Preakness.

The favorite wins. You collect $4.80 from a $2 bet. Everyone moves on to the Belmont.

This year looks a little different.

Following the defection of Nehro on Tuesday morning, the full field of 14 isn’t exactly the finest in the history of the Preakness. Then again, a questionable field usually produces a wonderful betting race.

Animal Kingdom will likely go off as the favorite around 3-1. That’s a slight value for a horse we know can run the distance. By no means is he a slam dunk to win the Preakness Stakes.

Dialed In will follow as the second choice, likely in the 5-1 or 6-1 range. Squeezed at the start of the Derby and having to fight through rush hour traffic at Churchill, Dialed In did a nice job to finish eight. There’s no “congrats on your 8th place finish” ribbon, so Nick Zito points the horse to Pimlico. For the record, he’s my pick.

Dance City enters the Preakness with only four career starts and lands on the board 100% of the time. Sure to act as a “wise guy” selection, the Todd Pletcher trained horse has improved with every race. Can he break through in Maryland’s most important two minutes of the spring?

Mucho Macho Man belongs in your trifecta – just not on the top line. Taking three races to breaks his maiden, triple M likes to win a race on the lead. That’s tough for a distance race these horses aren’t used to running. Don’t overlook the finish in the Derby. Triple M flat-out drove to the finish line three lengths behind Animal Kingdom.

Keep in mind one golden rule if and when you go to the window on Saturday. It’s a horse race. Anyone can win.

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