Noel’s Weekend Winners: Picks for Preakness Preps at Laurel and Oaklawn

Weekend Winners handicapping horseplayers betting exacta Oaklawn Park Laurel Bath House Row Stakes Federico Tesio Stakes Preakness Steve Asmussen Joel Rosario Maximus Magic Imperial Gun Circle P Lat Long Copper Tax
Racing at Oaklawn Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Welcome to Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners, the place to go for weekend best bets and spot plays from veteran handicapper and tournament-play pioneer Noel Michaels. Check back every week for a couple of highlighted selections designed to help you cash a few bets and make some money.

Noel's selections have been featured just about everywhere horse racing picks can be found, including in print in the Daily Racing Form, The HorsePlayer Magazine and American Turf Monthly, online at, and, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA's SatuTalking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.

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Six Beginner Betting Tools

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  4. Betting on horse racing can be intimidating. Team ABR put together some Dos and Don’ts for the new fan getting started betting on racing.
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The Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep season is complete, and the field for the run for the roses is taking shape just two weeks out from the first Saturday in May. However, that doesn’t mean that this is a meaningless weekend on the Triple Crown trail. This Saturday will feature two “win and you’re in” races for the Preakness Stakes May 18 at Pimlico, with automatic berths into the second jewel of the Triple Crown going to the winners of both the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park and the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

For this weekend’s winners, let’s take a look at Saturday’s pair of Preakness qualifying races. Both events have drawn competitive fields and should be good betting races. Best of luck.

Saturday, April 20

Laurel Park, Race 10, $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes, post time 5:05 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Friday, April 19: 1-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday, April 20: 1-7:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Sunday, April 21: 1-5 p.m. on FS2; 5-6 p.m. on FS1; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel has drawn a field of 11 3-year-olds set to go 1 1/8 miles with an automatic qualifying berth into the Preakness Stakes awarded to the winner. Six of the horses in the Federico Tesio exit Laurel’s prior 3-year-old stakes, the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes, including the top five finishers from that race. The Private Terms winner, #11 Copper Tax, prevailed by a neck in a close three-horse finish and now must overcome the far outside post position while also facing some live invaders, but the post is not a great concern for Copper Tax who is a closer that drops far back in the field and hopes to reel in the tired frontrunners. That was the scenario that won Copper Tax the Private Terms, and it could be the running style that helps him win the Federico Tesio as well. The Tesio field contains plenty of speed horses that should ensure a fast pace, giving the late runners an advantage. Another in the field who would benefit from a fast pace would be likely post-time favorite #7 Lat Long, who figures to be stalking the pace on Saturday. Lat Long was in tough when ninth in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes last time out, but he should improve in his second race off a 2 ½-month layoff and will appreciate the class relief against this much easier brand of competition. If you are searching for a price horse or a horse that can bump-up the value of your exotic wagers, #3 Circle P is worth your consideration. Circle P’s speed figures show a good improving pattern in every race back to last October. He is a late runner who could benefit the most out of all these horses from a stretchout in distance to 1 1/8 miles.

The Play: Bet to win on #3 Circle P (8-1). Play three-horse exacta and trifecta boxes along with #7 Lat Long (5-2) and #11 Copper Tax (7-2).

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $200,000 Bath House Row Stakes, post time 5:32 p.m. ET

The $200,000 Bath House Row Stakes is another race offering an automatic berth into the Preakness Stakes. The race has drawn an eight-horse field set to go 1 1/8 miles Saturday at Oaklawn. This race is made up entirely of non-winners of two races with the exception of #2 Maximus Magic, a horse that has won twice at this meet including a wire-to-wire win last time out. Maximus Magic controlled the pace last time, and when confronted by the runner-up, #8 Count Dracula, he never let that rival get by and wasn’t going to. Maximus Magic could control the pace in the Bath House Row and should once again prove to be a tough customer. The logical exacta partner along with Maximus Magic will be #3 Imperial Gun, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Joel Rosario. He exits a loss in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby where, as you may remember, he drew post 10 and got wiped out by an errant rival on the first turn to lose all chance in the race. Imperial Gun was an impressive maiden winner earlier at the Oaklawn meet and is eligible to show strong improvement for these connections given a fair trip.

The Play:  Bet #2 Maximus Magic (4-1) to win and box him in the exacta with #3 Imperial Gun (3-1).

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