When it comes to gambling, $25 can go fast at a casino or even at the track. But if you’re craving some betting action that’ll last you the whole day for $25, our friends at StableDuel have got just what you’re looking for.
A first-of-its kind platform for daily live horse racing contests, StableDuel has scheduled its biggest contest ever for this Saturday: The $10,000 Preakness Stakes Challenge. The winner of the contest will take home an estimated $5,000 (and potentially even more) and, yes, it only costs $25 to enter.
Think of StableDuel the same way you’d think of any fantasy sports platform. To win, you have to create the best roster of horses — a stable — just as you would select football players for a fantasy team. The better each horse performs, the more points you rack up. The top horses in each race (based on morning-line odds) are assigned the highest salaries. Since each team has a salary cap, teams can’t consist of all “favorites” and inevitably require players to identify winning “longshots” or sleeper picks that can be added to a stable for lower salaries.
Saturday’s big contest at StableDuel requires the standard selection of 10 horses per team. Each stable assembled must stay within a $50,000 virtual salary cap. The horses available for selection in the contest are the runners from all 12 races that are scheduled to be run at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday (the Preakness Stakes is race 11 on the card).
ABR’s Dan Tordjman is an avid StableDuel player and our resident expert when it comes to racing in Maryland. He has assembled his own team for the $10,000 Preakness Challenge. Here’s how Dan constructed his team.
Dan’s $10,000 Preakness Challenge Stable Duel Roster
Race 4 (SLEEPER PICK)
Horse: #3 Caravel
Reasoning: She’s a perfect 3-for-3 in her young career. After winning her first two races on the turf, she captured her most recent victory on an all-weather surface at Presque Isle Downs. In a race that looks wide open, Caravel has early speed and is perfectly drawn to take them a long way on the front end in this race. She’s impossible to pass up at the price. Even if she doesn’t win, she’ll earn your stable some points with a second- or third-place finish.
Horse: #1 Ain’t No Elmers
Reasoning: To me, this looked like a two-horse race between Ain’t No Elmers and Mundaye Call. The latter option’s price tag was $9,600. Mundaye Call is probably the fastest horse in this race and should bounce back after getting caught up in a pace duel and fading in her most recent start. But Ain’t No Elmers should be able to stick close enough to her. If horses like Fly On Angel and Wicked Whisper can put early pressure on Mundaye Call, that could set things up perfectly for Ain’t No Elmers.
Race 6 (MUST START)
Horse: #6 Doctor Mounty
Reasoning: The favorite in this race Factor This ($10,000) is a really nice horse, but I think he’s vulnerable. He seems destined for a pace duel with Somelikeithotbrown. Although Doctor Mounty won his most recent race in wire-to-wire fashion, he’s run some big races while closing from off the pace. Trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Forest Boyce also connect at a spectacular 32% clip when they team up in turf races. At a salary of just $6,000, this looks like one of the better buys of the day.
Horse: #5 Landeskog
Reasoning: Since the format of StableDuel contests allows for an average spend of $5,000 per horse (10 horses within a $50,000 salary cap), you’ve gotta be sure when you pick a horse in this price range. When it comes to Landeskog, I’m pretty sure he’s a whole lot faster than the rest of these and they’re going to have a hard time keeping up with him. If somehow he doesn’t break well and ends up facing pressure from a horse like Laki or Krsto Skye, a logical closer with some back class to consider at a very reasonable price is Nitrous ($1,000).
Horse: #8 Hidden Enemy
Reasoning: I came up just a few bucks short of being able to afford my top choice in this race Pivotal Mission ($8,000), but I was more than happy to settle for this really promising son of Galileo making just his third career start. While he’s yet to win, he posted a race-best last-out Equibase Speed Figure of 91. In that race, Hidden Enemy was forced to make an early move to stay within range of a pacesetter who was allowed to absolutely crawl on the lead. Despite the early move, Hidden Enemy still kicked on and held well for second while finishing nearly five lengths clear of the horse in third.
Horse: #1 Chocolate Bar
Reasoning: There were lots of potential sleeper picks I could’ve gone with in this race, but I thought the upside I was getting with Chocolate Bar was well worth the $5,000 investment. After earning his first career victory, he came back and nearly won in a nice allowance spot last out despite a horrendous trip from start to finish. There will be plenty of early speed backing up late in this race. Chocolate Bar should finish strong and win if he can avoid traffic. If you’re looking to save some salary in this race, other viable options are Jolting Joe ($500), So Street ($500), Jack the Umpire ($500), Reconvene ($1,000) and Vanzzy ($3,000)
Horse: #5 Bonny South
Reasoning: Again, if you’re going to spend this much on a horse, you’ve got to be confident in what you’re getting. To my eyes, Bonny South looks like one of the biggest standouts on the Preakness Day card. She comes out of a runner-up finish in the Alabama Stakes to Swiss Skydiver, a horse who’ll be one of the favorites in the Preakness Stakes. Not only does she get class relief here, she seems like she’ll benefit from a nice pace setup, too. She’ll be hard to beat.
Race 10 (SLEEPER PICK)
Horse: #2 Truth Hurts
Reasoning: This is really an all-or-nothing pick for me. Truth Hurts is a horse that I’m confident won’t be used by any more than 3% of players in the Preakness contest. But rewatching the way she finished and galloped out in her most recent start, as well as how well she ran off a long layoff at Ellis Park two races ago, I do see a lot of potential here. She’s a daughter of Tonalist and looks like she can run all day. I’m not convinced more than handful of these other horses even want to go this mile-and-an-eighth distance. I think she’ll be in the mix late. If she can somehow finish in the top three, she would’ve been a steal at this salary.
Race 11 (MUST START)
Horse: #5 Thousand Words
Reasoning: Bob Baffert has simply owned the Preakness Stakes. While all eyes are on his Derby winner Authentic, I’ve gravitated to Baffert’s other starter. After Thousand Words flipped in the paddock before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and was scratched out of that race, you might’ve expected them to perhaps send the horse home to California to regroup — after all, they should be confident enough in their Preakness prospects with Authentic wheeling back after his Derby win. But it seems to me that Thousand Words’ connections must feel that he’s sitting on a big race here and that he’s perhaps rediscovered the winter form that saw him win back-to-back graded stakes. I’m also projecting a faster and more hotly-contested pace in this race than in the Derby, which works to the detriment of Authentic and to the benefit of Thousand Words.
Race 11 (SLEEPER PICK)
Horse: #10 Pneumatic
Reasoning: Here’s an opportunity for players to take advantage of a 20-1 morning line that isn’t very likely to reflect the final odds of the horse in question, making Pneumatic a massive overlay at $250 on StableDuel. By the time the gates spring open for the Preakness, Pneumatic will likely be closer to 6-1, which would mean his actual value on StableDuel is closer to $5,000. Additionally, I think Pneumatic has a legitimate shot at actually winning this race. He comes off a dominant score in the Pegasus Stakes last out at Monmouth and looks like another one who’d benefit from an early pace scrum.