A Cowardly and Cautious Preakness Wager Tip: David Papadopoulos

  • I’m betting the favorite with the other favorite on Saturday
  • There’s an old adage: Better a short price than a long face

Classic Empire. Photographer: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

As a public handicapper, I’ve always been reluctant to just say, “I like the favorites in this race.” It feels a touch cowardly, a touch too obvious. What’s the point of it?

But in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, I must say, I like the favorites.

The top two colts -- Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and hard-luck, fourth-place finisher Classic Empire -- look clearly superior to the ho-hum horses that make up the rest of the field. If they run their A races, or even their B+ races for that matter, they should separate themselves from the pack. And both are indicating they’re indeed ready to roll, having flashed great energy in their morning gallops since the Derby.

Now, Always Dreaming is projected to go off at odds of 4-5 while Classic Empire is projected at 3-1. I suspect the price on the second-favorite will even tick up a bit higher -- to somewhere in the 7-2 to 4-1 range -- and that’s where the best value is. Classic Empire is a serious racehorse. He’s much better than his Derby finish suggests. I’m going to bet him to win and, to hedge the wager a bit, will play him underneath Always Dreaming in a straight exacta.

A bold wager it is not. But sometimes, as the old-timers say, a short price is better than a long face.

(David Papadopoulos, a managing editor at Bloomberg News, is a voter in the thoroughbred industry’s annual Eclipse Awards. He has been publishing his Triple Crown picks since 2012.)

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