Bobby Zen

Bettors were able to lock in some juicy prices in the two futures pools for this year’s GI Preakness S., but banking on which horses would even enter the middle jewel of the Triple Crown ended up being almost as tough a task as choosing a winner.

Consider yourself a pretty decent Preakness prognosticator if, in Pool 1 that closed back on Mar. 2, you nabbed 30-1 advance odds on subsequent GI Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (Goldencents); 19-1 on likely Preakness favorite and ‘TDN Rising StarMuth (Good Magic), or 70-1 on Catching Freedom (Constitution), the Derby’s eventual fourth-place finisher.

Yet for a select few to be able to hold tickets on those gaudy overlays, there were a lot Preakness futures players whose hopes were dashed long before the crab cakes started cooking in Baltimore.

Of the 39 individual betting interests offered in Pool 1, those are the only three colts expected to be entered when the Preakness is drawn on Monday.

Most bettors who choose to wade in to futures pools know there is inherent risk involved in trying to chase higher-odds rewards, because if your horse doesn’t end up starting, you lose.

But Pool 1 of the Preakness futures pool took that concept to the extreme this year, with only 7.5% of the entire slate of individual entrants still in contention less than one week before the race. The “field” option of all other 3-year-olds closed at 5-1.

Further contributing to the Pool 1 odds imbalance, so many would-be wiseguys loaded up on ‘TDN Rising StarNysos (Nyquist) two months ago that his price plummeted to 5-2.

The “wisdom” of the crowd at that point in the Triple Crown season was that because Churchill Downs had banned Nysos’s trainer, Bob Baffert, the colt (who at the time was ranked No. 1 on both TDN’s Sophomore Top 12 list and the NTRA’s poll of 3-year-olds), would automatically be targeting the Preakness.

But Nysos’s connections had never made any such public declaration way back in late winter, and 10 days after Preakness futures Pool 1 closed, he was taken out of training with what Baffert described at the time as a “minor” setback.

Nysos has not had a published workout since. But the Baffert-trained Muth subsequently won the Mar. 30 GI Arkansas Derby.

And because Mystik Dan ran a non-threatening third behind Muth at Oaklawn, his price drifted even higher, to 45-1, in Pool 2 of the Preakness futures, which closed approximately one hour before the Kentucky Derby went off on May 4.

Muth, by contrast, went off at 7-2 odds in Pool 2. Bettors by that time were armed with the knowledge that he was being pointed for Baltimore on May 18. All things considered, that’s still a pretty fair mutuel considering he projects to go off much lower on Preakness Day.

Pool 2 reflected a much more likely lineup of Preakness starters. Yet because ‘TDN Rising StarFierceness (City of Light) took the brunt of the action at 9-2 and then stamped himself as a no-go for the Preakness with a 15th-place finish in the Derby, there was still decent value spread among seven other likely Preakness starters.

Those overlays include Catching Freedom at 14-1 (far lower than his Pool 1 price but better odds than you will get on Saturday); Imagination (Into Mischief) and Tuscan Gold (Medaglia d’Oro), both at 17-1; Seize the Grey (Arrogate) at 25-1; Just Steel (Justify) at 35-1; Copper Tax (Copper Bullet) at 50-1 and Uncle Heavy (Social Inclusion) at 133-1.

The “all others” proposition went off at 12-1 in Pool 2. But among the 10 likely entrants at deadline for this column, the only horse that field bet would cover is Mugatu (Blofeld), who figures to be at least three times that price on Saturday.

Lucky Sevens

It’s only early May, but already we have two horses tied atop the North American leaderboard with seven wins apiece in 2024. Both won races at smaller tracks on Kentucky Derby Day to break a three-way tie among six-time winners this season.

Epicurean (Speightster), a 6-year-old mare, scored in a starter/optional claimer at Thistledown to run her record to 7-for-8 through only a little more than four months of racing this year. She’s 12-for-42 lifetime, and prior to her second win at Thistle this spring had previously hit the winner’s circle during the winter months at Mahoning Valley for owner/trainer Nestor Rivera.

Tennessee Moon (Ransom the Moon), a 4-year-old filly, won the $25,000 Swihart Memorial S. at Fonner Park to compile the same 7-for-8 mark this year with victories at both Fonner and Delta Downs. She’s 12-for-22 lifetime for owner/trainer Mark Hibdon.

Oddly enough, the gelding right behind them in the standings with six wins, Inside Stunt (Greenpointcrusader), is a stablemate of Epicurean’s in Rivera’s barn.

Deja vu All Over Again

Here’s another oddity: Last June 4, I wrote an article for TDN titled “Deja vu at Atokad” that detailed how the same set of four Nebraska-bred Thoroughbreds, competing in one-furlong races on back-to-back days at Atokad Downs, finished 1-2-3-4 on both afternoons. The mare who won two races within 24 hours was P R Girlfriend (Gold Schleiger).

The unusual result was the product of the South Sioux City track’s ownership, Ho-Chunk, Inc., needing to conduct at least one day of live racing to maintain Nebraska licensure as an active racetrack, a status that Ho-Chunk, for nearly a decade now, has been perpetuating in an oft-delayed attempt to eventually develop a racino.

This year’s two-day festival at Atokad was conducted Friday and Saturday. As in recent years, it consisted of three one-furlong races per day, limited to four starters each, with multiple horses entered on back-to-back days. The sprints for Thoroughbreds took place over a straightaway with a J-shaped gallop-out that is part of what remains of the five-furlong oval where the otherwise demolished Atokad previously conducted more traditional race meets from 1956 through 2012.

P R Girlfriend, now age six, had gone five starts over the last 11 months without being able to win at two other Nebraska tracks, Columbus and Fonner. But she proved she is a one-furlong specialist and horse-for-the-course at Atokad, winning again on Friday and dead-heating for another victory on Saturday.

On Friday, P R Girlfriend went off as the 2-1 second choice (yes, these contests had betting–about $2,300 in win, place, exactas and doubles for that race), scoring by a head in :12.40 despite breaking last in a one-furlong sprint.

On Saturday, just 21 hours and 33 minutes later, P R Girlfriend again was sent off as the second choice in a four-horse field. This time she broke third, put away the favorite, then got hooked on even terms at the wire by a fresh closer for the dead-heat win, matching Friday’s :12.40 clocking.

And P R Girlfriend wasn’t the only horse at Atokad to win two races in two days this past weekend. The 9-year-old gelding Pickeljuice (Holiday Justice), who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years, also managed the feat.

Ho-Chunk business operations manager Marshall Bass told KCAU-TV there is no firm timetable for the new racino, but the hope is to break ground in the next year.

“We will continue the races going forward,” Bass told KCAU. “This might be the last year, we might have another one here next year. But in the grand scheme, the big plan at the end is to have these races in a full track at our new facility here in South Sioux City.”

The post The Week In Review: Juicy Preakness Future-Bet Prices, Provided You Guessed Who’d Show Up appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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