2020 Preakness - Fearless Rick's Picks

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2020 Preakness Stakes

All times Eastern

Third Leg of Triple Crown is Anyone's Game

With the 145th running of the Preakness being run this afternoon as the third leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing instead as being the usual "middle jewel," the stage is set for a wild ride over the mile and 3/16ths that 11 horses will traverse.

The race is scheduled for 5:45 pm Eastern Time at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore, Maryland and the weather couldn't be more perfect, sunny and in the low to mid 60s at post time.

What makes for this event to be an outstanding wagering opportunity is the absence of Belmont Stakes winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up, Tiz the Law, who is skipping the Preakness in preparation for the Breeders' Cup in a month's time.

With him, out, the horse who beat him in the Derby, #9, Authentic, would figure to have an easy time winning the race and wearing a garland of Black Eyed Susans in the winner's circle, but that wouldn't be any fun, now would it?

Authentic will likely go off as the post time favorite, but that's not without some doubt, thanks to the element of speed possessed by a number of other horses in the race which may prevent him from getting to the lead as he did in the Derby and in each of his four other wins.

No less than five other horses could be gunning from the start, which would seriously compromise Authentic's chances. His lone defeat was when he was just off the lead in the Santa Anita Derby, suffering a nearly three-length loss to Honor A.P. He needs to be on or fighting for the lead to win and his connections, Bob Baffert, probably knows that.

Horses that may want a piece of the front end action include #3, Art Collector, #4 Swiss Skydiver, #5 Thousand Words, #6 Jesus' Team, and #7 Ny Traffic. What is worse for Authentic is all these speedy types are to his inside, but the one most likely to get the jump is the five horse, Thousand Words. The addition of blinkers for this race probably means the trainer and jockey have strategized that if they can get the lead, they can keep it. Thousand Words was sired by Pioneerof the Nile, a wickedly strong distance breeding by Empire Maker. Florent Geroux will ride.

The kicker is that Thousand Words is trained by, yep, Bob Baffert, trainer of Authentic. Since Baffert owes a duty to both of the owners of these magnificent steeds, he can't just kill one with the other. The likely plan is to have Thousand Words put on the lead with Authentic flanking him to the outside and let the two of them figure it out in the stretch. Baffert would like nothing more than to see his two go around the track in Affirmed-Alydar fashion, ending in a dead heat for the win.

That's unlikely.

Let's cut to the quick. Of the 11 entries, six of them have a legitimate shot at winning it. For various reasons, mostly because their Beyer numbers and running styles don't match up well enough, I'm throwing out #1 Excession, #6 Jesus' Team, #7 Ny Traffic, #10, Pneumatic, and #11 Liveyourbeastlife.

That leaves the 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 or a six horse box for either the exacta, which is $30 for a dollar box, $60 for a 50 cent trifecta box, or $36 for a 10 cent superfecta box. I'm going to opt out of the trifecta and play the exacta and superfecta that way, a $66 wager. Then I'll put $2 to win on the three longest odds of those six and $5 to show on the same, making my total wager $87. Depending on how I've done with previous races, I may not play the superfecta, dropping my wager down to a total of $56.

With all the speed entered, it sets up for the closers, #2 Mr. Big News, who was third in the Derby, #8 Max Player, who was 5th. Also, the 3 and 4 horses, Art Collector and Swiss Skydiver, will likely end up stalking the pace and they deserve a hard look.

If I have any luck at all, I'll come back a winner of more than $100 net. Looking for an exacta of $50 or more for a dollar because I don't think the favorite, Authentic is going to survive. His stablemate, Thousand Words, may be rounding into form at the right time.

Good luck to everyone. Enjoy the show. You can watch the video below if you like:

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