SNIDER: Preakness triple easy as 7-5-4

Rick Snider
May 18, 2018 - 1:00 am

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


The hardest part of picking Saturday’s 143rd Preakness Stakes is not the winner or even the runner-up. This is an easy Justify-Good Magic exacta.

The exacta may not pay much more than $5, though. The triple is the only chance of cashing even something remotely worth the risk. History says take a local – Diamond King.

The seven-horse field at Pimlico Race Course lacks much drama. Good Magic was the only respectable Derby loser to try winner Justify once more. The rest are long shots hoping for a piece of the $1.5 million purse.

Justify will become the second Derby-Preakness winner since 2015 heading to New York on June 9 seeking to become a Triple Crown champion. While it seems crazy to think the sport could have two in four years, remember three were crowned in the 1940s and ‘70s with 1977-78 seeing consecutive champions. But Belmont Stakes talk is for another day.

The Preakness loves frontrunning speed more than the Triple Crown’s other two legs. It’s so much harder to run down the leader in the lane at Pimlico, especially in the expected mud.

Justify’s impressive Derby win comes from a suicidal early pace that should have compromised him late. While the colt staggered home in the second slowest Derby final quarter mile in 28 years, Good Magic didn’t gain one inch on him in the lane. Translation: the old track expression “Time only counts in prison” is exactly right about the Derby finish.

Justify should control the pace leaving the first turn at the latest. This time, the opening half-mile should be slower as the field hopes to turn the stretch into a sprint race. That would be a mistake because Justify can outrun them there, too.

Good Magic has won 2 of 6 with three seconds and one third. He’s classy, just not enough. Good Magic will probably come closer to Justify this time, just not enough. Still, he’s your best option is betting against a probable 2-5 favorite, especially when remembering Good Magic’s sire Curlin won the 2007 Preakness over a wet track as the second choice.

Third is where it gets messy, but local outfits have an edge. Trainer John Servis won twice with Diamond King at nearby Laurel Race Course since December. The Preakness is a big deal for locals and often hit the board.

The payoff isn’t enough to box combinations. Let one wager rule your risk – 7-5-4.


Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks