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Exacta a good bet in the 2019 Preakness

By Vance Hanson

Although the post-time favorite recently went on a long and unprecedented winning streak in the Kentucky Derby (G1) (2013-18), the Preakness (G1) is generally considered the more formful of the three Triple Crown events, at least with respect to how the race is bet.

Since 1975, the post-time favorite has won the Preakness 18 times in 44 runnings (41 percent), which is an above-average rate for winning favorites. Favorites also ran second 13 times during that span, so the public choice has finished first or second in 70 percent of the Preaknesses run since the first full year of the Ford administration.

Why arbitrarily pick 1975? That was the first year Exacta wagering was offered in the Preakness. And even with the post-time favorite playing such a predominant role, the Exacta still seems one of the better ways to make money on the race.

Occasionally, the top two betting choices both show up in the Preakness and the result is a miserly Exacta payoff. Examples include Affirmed-Alydar (even-money), Sunday Silence-Easy Goer (4-1), Summer Squall-Unbridled (5-1), Real Quiet-Victory Gallop (6-1), and I’ll Have Another-Bodemeister (8-1). Others have paid slightly better. Curlin-Street Sense paid off at 10-1, while Pleasant Colony-Bold Ego and Red Bullet-Fusaichi Pegasus were both 11-1 propositions.

However, those outcomes have been in a minority. More often when the favorite wins, a longer shot rallies to crash the Exacta. If you’re in love with the favorite on Saturday, some of these historical payouts since 1990 might whet your appetite for diving into the Exacta pool.

Year Winning Favorite Runner-up Runner-up odds Exacta payoff
2018 Justify Bravazo 15-1 $27.40
2015 American Pharoah Tale of Verve 28-1 $124.40
2009 Rachel Alexandra Mine That Bird 6-1 $39.20
2008 Big Brown Macho Again 39-1 $36.60
2005 Afleet Alex Scrappy T 13-1 $152.60
2004 Smarty Jones Rock Hard Ten 6-1 $24.60
2003 Funny Cide Midway Road 20-1 $120.60
2002 War Emblem Magic Weisner 45-1 $327.00
2001 Point Given A P Valentine 10-1 $81.40
1995 Timber Country Oliver’s Twist 25-1 $266.00
1993 Prairie Bayou Cherokee Run 9-1 $69.00
1992 Pine Bluff Alydeed 5-1 $66.80

Keep in mind some of the smaller payoffs involved odds-on favorites (e.g. Justify, Big Brown, and Smarty Jones). The expected favorite on Saturday, Improbable, is highly unlikely to be backed so heavily. Of course, if you don’t like the betting favorite at all on Saturday, the potential for a bigger payoff in the pool will be much greater.

The bottom line is that just because the betting favorite generally runs true to form in the Preakness, there’s often a double-digit odds payoff waiting to be hit in the most popular of exotics pools.

PHOTO: Justify, with Mike Smith aboard, wins the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 19, 2018 (c) Horsephotos.com/Cecilia Gustavsson

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