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March 21, 2019

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Oddsmakers like Orb’s Triple Crown chances; Vegas picks for the Preakness

Kentucky Derby

Associated Press

Joel Rosario rides Orb during the 139th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 4, 2013, in Louisville, Ky.

Preakness Stakes odds to win

  • No. 1 Orb — 10-to-11
  • No. 2 Goldencents — 8-to-1
  • No. 3 Titletown Five — 28-to-1
  • No. 4 Departing — 13-to-2
  • No. 5 Mylute — 13-to-2
  • No. 6 Oxbow — 16-to-1
  • No. 7 Will Take Charge — 12-to-1
  • No. 8 Governor Charlie — 10-to-1
  • No. 9 Itsmyluckyday — 10-to-1

The immediate reaction after this year’s Kentucky Derby sounded identical to, well, every other year in recent memory.

Orb’s nose had barely crossed the finish line and the goop from the sloppy Churchill Downs track was still pelting the 19 horses and jockeys in the field when everyone started asking the perennial question.

You know the one: Does this year’s Kentucky Derby winner have what it takes to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978?

The instant switch to discussing Triple Crown chances, not even leaving any time to celebrate the winner of the most prestigious race of the year, is tiresome at best and nauseating at worst.

Open your eyes and clear your head, though, because this year the talk is justified. Las Vegas oddsmakers give Orb the best shot of any Kentucky Derby winner in the past five years, and likely rate him among the top contenders of the past 35 years, to capture the Triple Crown.

A proposition wager at William Hill sports book heading into the second leg, Saturday’s Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, offers Orb at plus-220 (risking $1 to win $2.20) to win the Triple Crown. Gamblers can bet against the horse making history with a payout of minus-260 (risking $2.60 to win $1).

Those numbers depict Orb as having a 29 percent chance at the Triple Crown. It’s the tightest the post-Kentucky Derby prop has been posted since 2008, when highly touted Big Brown won the Race for the Roses by nearly five lengths.

Winner of five races in a row, Orb is deserving of the acclaim. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey doesn’t dispense praise loosely but acknowledges the horse as the best of his 30-plus-year career.

Orb’s pre-Kentucky Derby training runs drew rave reviews from anyone who watched. The hype translated into him going off as the favorite two weekends ago in Lexington and winning impressively despite what was far from a perfect trip around the 1.25-mile track.

Jockey Joel Rosario thought his horse was too far back approaching the final turn, but Orb took him on a ride he’ll never forget by steaming past all competitors in the home stretch.

Orb conquered one of the best Kentucky Derby fields in years. He should have it much easier in the less-competitive Preakness, which starts the fewest horses since 1997 with just nine.

Now, the downside. There’s only one glaring obstacle in the way of Orb at Pimlico Race Course.

Orb drew the No. 1 post, in direct contrast to the position McGaughey said was best for him. Tabasco Cat was the last horse to win from the No. 1 post in the Preakness. That was 19 years ago.

Nonetheless, Orb remains the runaway favorite, and his Triple Crown odds only trended slightly downward in Las Vegas after the draw. This might be the horse that can finally answer the annual question with a “yes."

Read below for three Vegas-style matchup picks on today’s Preakness. Horse vs. horse matchups are available all around town, including at William Hill sports books, from where these three were plucked.

Click to enlarge photo

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert looks for his Preakness Stakes entrant Governor Charlie during a morning workout at Pimlico Race Course on Friday, May 17, 2013, in Baltimore. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled for Saturday.

No. 8 Governor Charlie (minus-115) over No. 7 Will Take Charge (minus-115) Both horses opened 12-to-1 on the morning line, but bettors drove Governor Charlie down to 10-to-1, so there’s immediate value in this prop. Additionally, he’s trained by one of the most successful men in Preakness history. Bob Baffert has entered 13 horses into the Preakness and won five times, snagging a place with Bodemeister in last year’s race.

No. 4 Departing (minus-110) over No. 5 Mylute (minus-120) Rosie Napravnik is coming off of the best finish for a female jockey in Kentucky Derby history for her fifth-place run aboard Mylute. She’s receiving even more attention as she attempts to become the first female to win the Preakness at the track where she started her career as a teenager. But she’s maybe getting too much credit, as public bettors are keeping Mylute’s odds lower than merited.

No. 9 Itsmyluckyday (plus-110) over No. 2 Goldencents (minus-140) Here’s a personal story from two weeks ago: I scoured four sports books looking for this exact matchup before the Kentucky Derby. It was my favorite play — the horse I was highest on, Itsmyluckyday, against the one I felt most over-valued, Goldencents. The ticket cashed, but both horses were tremendously disappointing with Itsmyluckyday running 15th and Goldencents 17th. The result makes me less ardent in re-upping with the same wager, but at plus-money, it’s still worth trusting my initial handicapping.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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