by Eddie Olczyk
May 16, 2019
Pour the Bourbon
By Eddie Olczyk, NBC Sports Handicapper
Analysis: Flat-out, it’s disappointing that the Kentucky Derby top-3 (plus Maximum Security) are not here for the Preakness. But that’s horse racing, and we horseplayers know that you play the hand you’re dealt. What we got was a race that’s highly interesting to bet and a favorite, IMPROBABLE, who is not a lock like we see many years at Pimlico. Expect a quick pace as this does not look like a Preakness that will be won wire-to-wire. It sets up for a closer so long as we have a fast track.
Main Contenders: IMPROBABLE has had many opportunities to win this year and simply has not. As much as I respect Bob Baffert and Mike Smith, if IMPROBABLE wins, I lose. He’s slotted underneath for the exotics and can be expected to run his race. But he’ll have to prove to me that’s good enough. WAR OF WILL, stuck on the rail again, almost has to go early now. That’s going to quicken the pace that already looked quick enough. I expect IMPROBABLE to take money, WAR OF WILL to take money, and the local horse ALWAYSMINING probably will get bet, too, off his win streak.
Value Plays: The closers get the right set-up and should be the right price. I played BOURBON WAR and front-running BODEXPRESS in the Xpressbet Florida Derby and I’m still backing BOURBON WAR as the closer to beat in the Preakness. I like that BOURBON WAR now has had some time off, adds blinkers and his last work at XBTV.com impressed me. He’s got a great post to save ground with speed to his inside and outside. He’s the horse they all have to hold off at the end. His morning line may be too high at 12-1; I’d go in with both feet if he’s 12-1. But I’ll be happy with something between 6-1 and 8-1. The other closer to help the ticket would be WIN WIN WIN. He didn’t care for the slop at Churchill, but his Blue Grass showed off a big middle-move before hitting traffic and having to restart his rally.
$100 Wagering Strategy: