Post Positions (and Keeler Johnson's Fair Odds Line) for the 2018 Preakness Stakes

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May 16th, 2018

The good luck for Justify continued on Wednesday when the newly-crowned Kentucky Derby winner drew post position seven in the $1,500,000 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Racecourse.

The draw was essentially perfect for the unbeaten colt, who has been made the 1-2 morning line favorite for the May 19th classic. With just one rival drawn to his outside, Justify will have plenty of options to stay out of trouble and avoid traffic, a major benefit given that a wet track is expected for the Preakness.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic, the second choice on the morning line at 3-1, also drew well in post position five, while new shooter Quip—winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II)—was assigned post position one and has been installed as the third choice at 12-1.
PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Quip Florent Geroux Rodolphe Brisset 12-1
2 Lone Sailor Irad Ortiz, Jr. Tom Amoss 15-1
3 Sporting Chance Luis Contreras D. Wayne Lukas 30-1
4 Diamond King Javier Castellano John Servis 30-1
5 Good Magic Jose Ortiz Chad Brown 3-1
6 Tenfold Ricardo Santana, Jr. Steve Asmussen 20-1
7 Justify Mike Smith Bob Baffert 1-2
8 Bravazo Luis Saez D. Wayne Lukas 20-1
Prior to the Kentucky Derby, I compiled a chart of my “fair odds” for every horse in the race, and I’ve done the same for the Preakness field. My fair odds are the prices that I believe represent the chances of each horse winning the race (they don’t apply for hitting the board). If my fair odds for a given horse are lower than the morning line odds, then in my opinion, that horse is an overlay and represents value. In contrast, if my fair odds are higher than the morning line odds, then I think the horse in question will be an underlay and represent poor betting value.

Here’s how I break down the Preakness field:
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The small field and the presence of a heavy favorite makes it difficult for any horse to start at a particularly enticing price, and indeed, I don’t have any of the Preakness starters listed as overlays based on their morning line odds. Justify and Bravazo come closest, being pegged as “fair value,” and while Justify’s 1-2 morning line odds aren’t anything to write home about, I do think they’re fair since they represent a 66.67% chance of Justify winning the Preakness. Think about it—if the Preakness were run nine times, would Justify prevail in at least six of them? My answer is yes, so 1-2 strikes me as fair.

Mathematically speaking, the biggest underlay in the Preakness might actually be Good Magic, whose morning line odds of 3-1 represent a 25% chance of winning compared to the 18.19% chance established by my 9-2 odds. Good Magic is certainly the second-most likely winner of the Preakness, but I would want a better price than his morning line odds before playing him to turn the tables on Justify.

Which horses do you think represent fair or better value in the Preakness Stakes?