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Photo of Orb courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

So you like Orb to win the Preakness? You don’t say! Everybody is picking Orb, and why shouldn’t they? Not only was that race in the Kentucky Derby spectacular, but it’s only right for the public to back the Derby winner in the Preakness and root for a Triple Crown.

The problem is that the odds on Orb will be pounded down to worse than even money. So the question is: how do we make any money betting on Orb?

I’ve discussed on this website some ways to bet favorites other than betting them to win. However, this Saturday I don’t plan to play any exacta or trifecta keys with Orb on top. They just won’t pay enough in a field this small.

I’m going to take my chances on the $1.5 million guaranteed Pick 4 instead.
To win the Pick 4, you need to pick the winner of four races in a row. In this case you need to pick the winners of races nine through 12, ending with the Preakness. These “horizontal” bets, or multi-race wagers, can get pretty expensive the more horses you throw at them. But we have one thing working for us on Saturday – we’re going to single Orb in the Preakness.

If you can narrow the number of horses you like in one of the legs of the race down to one, you can increase the number of horses you take in other legs without worrying about the ticket getting too expensive. And this Saturday the bet has a 50-cent minimum, so you can really go nuts.

Chances are most of the Pick 4 tickets with Orb in the 12th race will be hammered pretty hard and won’t pay a whole lot. The trick is to find some live longshots in the other legs that few others will have on their tickets, then cross your fingers and holler them horses home.

I took a look at the card, and I’m sharing some of my longshot picks with you here. I didn’t get a chance to see any morning-line odds, so I had to make some assumptions. Chances are, every horse I picked here could end up a big favorite and a ticket with them on it won’t pay Jack Taco.

But if you can get a nice price on some of these, consider including them on your Pick 4 ticket just in case.

For my part, I’ll probably have some of the favorites on my ticket at $2 as a safety, but some of these longer-priced horses are worth a $.50 ticket for sure. Let’s take a look at the Preakness undercard.

In the Dixie Stakes right before the Preakness, Optimizer figures to be the favorite for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. But he’s more beatable than Orb. Two horses to consider: Skyring, a horse with the same owner and trainer as Optimizer, and Forte Dei Marmi.

Ordinarily when two horses come from the same owner and trainer, they are coupled together as a single betting entry. For the Dixie, the two horses will race as individual betting interests.

Lukas has to believe that Skyring is capable of giving Optimizer a good race if he entered both horses here.

Another longshot play is Forte Dei Marmi (GB). This horse didn’t even finish his last race, having been pulled up and vanned off the track. But he’s put up some massive figures back at his home track in Canada, and he was back there Wednesday working for this race and posted a bullet workout. I like playing the British horses in the grass stakes because somebody once told me they are better bred for the long, grass races than American horses. That isn’t always true, but this horse ran here once before, in this same race in 2012, and he closed like a beast from last to finish third. He’s seven years old and built for this kind of race.

The tenth race is the Maryland Sprint Handicap, a six-furlong race with a Beyer Speed Figure par of 104. That means that this race usually runs really fast. Sage Valley is coming off of three wins in a row, two of them with triple-digit speed figures, so he’s likely to be overbet. All three of those races came last year and he’s making a return off of a huge layoff. Two of his last three were on wet tracks. If he’s the favorite, chances are there’s a horse or two in this race that are offering a better price than they should.

One place to look for value would be the two closers, Candyman E and Laurie’s Rocket. Candyman E started off this year with a huge race, getting beat at the wire in a fast finish. His two races since then both had good excuses (muddy track, synthetic surface), so perhaps this is the race to get back to top form. Laurie’s Rocket is a proven closer who has plenty of experience in races like this one.

In the first leg of the Pick 4, the Gallorette Handicap, you’re going to need to go deep as it’s a 10-horse field that any of these female horses could end up winning. The two foreign-bred horses, Samitar (GB) and Old Tune (Brz) should be the top betting choices. But take a look at Silver Screamer as a sleeper pick, especially at long odds. She’s coming off a long layoff, which sometimes means the horse “needs a race” before returning to top form; but sometimes it means a horse is ready to go off. She also has a graded stakes win under her belt, which is more than the other horses (save for the two previously mentioned) can say. Her trainer has a good record in graded stakes so far this year. Perhaps he knows when a horse is ready to step up.

So there you have it. Some interesting options on the Preakness undercard in some very competitive graded stakes races. If you want to find a way to make some good money on an Orb victory, throw $20 or $30 at some Pick 4 tickets with Orb singled in the last leg. If you’re still alive come Preakness post time, you’ll have a much more exciting sweat on the Derby champ than anyone holding a win or an exacta bet, that’s for sure.

If you bet on any of these horses and lose, take solace in the fact that I lost, too, and that I’m probably going to be watching the race from the infield, so you’re probably in better shape. Then put whatever you have left on Will Take Charge.

See you at Old Hilltop.

Preakness Overhead -Hill

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

2013 Preakness Stakes

Saturday, Pimlico Race Course, 6:20 p.m. ET

1 3/16 miles, 3-year-olds

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Orb Shug McGaughey Joel Rosario 1-1
2 Goldencents Doug O'Neill Kevin Krigger 8-1
3 Titletown Five D. Wayne Lukas Julien Leparoux 30-1
4 Departing Al Stall Brian Hernandez Jr 6-1
5 Mylute Tom Amoss Rosie Napravnik 5-1
6 Oxbow D. Wayne Lukas Gary Stevens 15-1
7 Will Take Charge D. Wayne Lukas Mike Smith 12-1
8 Govenor Charlie Bob Baffert Martin Garcia 12-1
9 Itsmyluckyday Eddie Plesa Jr. John Velazquez 9-1
Image Description

David Hill

David Hill is a writer and gambler who grew up in the shadow of the Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. He has written for a number of publications and is currently writing his first book. You can read more at davidhillonline.com

Image Description

David Hill

David Hill is a writer and gambler who grew up in the shadow of the Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. He has written for a number of publications and is currently writing his first book. You can read more at davidhillonline.com

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