139th Preakness Stakes Picks – May 17th

The 139th running of the Preakness at Pimlico will be dramatic for one reason; can anyone knock off California Chrome? He went off as a prohibitive favorite at the Kentucky Derby and he goes into the gates today as an even more overwhelming pick to take the second leg of the Triple Crown.

There’s nothing daring or bold about writing about and wagering on the overwhelming favorite, but there’s also nothing really redeeming about tossing money away either. SO is there another horse in this field worth taking a flyer on? Or is the only value in pairing Cali Chrome in a multi-horse wager like a trifecta or even boxing him with two or three other solid colts?

Keep in mind the Preakness has been the most predictable of the Triple Crown Races historically, with the favorite winning 70 of 139 times. California Chrome isn’t just the favorite; he’s the overwhelming favorite.

SO let’s take a look at today’s field, as well as a few other horses and jockeys to keep an eye on today.

The 139th Preakness Stakes – Best Bets:


California Chrome (3:5) – We’ve talked a lot about this horse already today, as well as in the Derby Preview, but there’s good reason. In the last three stakes races California Chrome has won by a combined 14 ¾ lengths. That’s dominance and there isn’t any real reason to think otherwise will occur today. I’m not trying to outsmart the room on this pick. Just take the favorite and look for some good value in the place and show departments.

Social Inclusion (9:1) – This is a fast horse, but foot problems led to a new scratches and failing to accumulate the necessary points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. His trainers say all is well and the horse is ready today, but with a fast field, I’m not real wild about relatively slim odds on a horse that’s had some injury issues.

General A Rod (15:1) – This horse was a nice sleeper heading into the Derby but his 11th place finish took much of the shine off his perception. However, this is a horse that had never finished out of the money prior to Kentucky. He got behind the pack early and had trouble breaking loose, falling as far back as 16th, however in the end he only finished 8 ½ lengths off the winning pace. With a less-crowded field, he could make a push to the top three.

Bayern (10:1) – This horse has been seeing the second-most action behind California Chrome, but I’d be surprised if he is able to overtake the favorite today. He is trained by legendary trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Preakness five times, so that may be partially responsible for the narrowing line. Bayern was the pacesetter at the Arkansas Derby by lost steam and finished behind Danza and Ride on Curlin. I can envision the same thing happening today as the speed of the field overtakes him.

Longer Shots:

Look, let’s face it, any horse not named “California Chrome” is a longshot today, but these are some true long shots with decent value to crash the top three.

Kid Cruz (20:1) – I like this horse as an overlooked speedster who could benefit from a fast pace today. His odds have risen as high as 20:1 and could be a nice pick to amp up the value on some trifecta wagers. I like his getting in the mix and making some noise today. Cruz hasn’t been as well tested as some of the other horses in the field, but he has a good late kick that he used to recently win the Federica Cup.

Ride on Curlin (10:1) – His last four starts have been disappointing, but I still like the potential speed of this Calvin Borel mounted horse. Much like General A Rod, Ride on Curlin got lost in the pack at the crowded Kentucky Derby. I like him to fare better today and to sneak into the superfecta considerations.

My Pick:

It’s a pretty evenly matched field outside of California Chrome, so there is some good value in the more exotic and combination wagers today. I’m not getting cute and going away from the favorite, but I do like a few longer-odd horses to factor in the mix. Here’s my betting card for today – good luck and enjoy the race!!

Win: California Chrome (3:5)

Place: Kid Cruz (20:1)

Show: Ride on Curlin (10:1)

4th Place: General A Rod (15:1)

Chris Scheeren / Author