Mike Smith riding Justify to victory at the Kentucky Derby. (Morry Gash/Associated Press)

Kentucky Derby winner Justify, who is unbeaten in four starts, will take on seven other horses from the No. 7 post position at Pimlico in the 141st Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

Justify, the 1-2 morning-line favorite, has won two Grade I stakes, the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby, and has not been worse than second at any call since breaking his maiden at Santa Anita in February. With more early speed to contend with in the Preakness, Justify will again have to sit off the pace for the win, but his record-setting TimeForm speed figures to start his career show he is more than up to the task.

Plus, horses finishing in the money at the Kentucky Derby have accounted for 15 of the past 21 Preakness winners. Eleven of those won the Run for the Roses, leaving four runners-up who were also successful in the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico. Good Magic showed tactical speed in the Kentucky Derby — he was fifth at the first call and second behind Justify at the second call — as well as in his win in the Grade II Blue Grass at Keeneland, which featured a faster-than-normal pace. His overall speed projects him to be behind Justify by a considerable margin yet fast enough to be considered two lengths faster than the rest of the field.

You won’t make a huge score going with the top two choices at the top of your ticket — since 2013, the first year horses had to qualify for the Kentucky Derby through the points system — the Preakness exacta has returned and average of $126.16 on a $2 bet, lower than the Kentucky Derby ($254.13) and Belmont Stakes ($199.86). Still, there could be some good returns in betting the trifectas and superfectas.

When looking for horses to round out your exotic tickets, focus on those coming off a top finish in a major Grade I race, preferably one breaking from middle and outside posts on Saturday. It also helps if their Brisnet late pace speed figure, a metric that measures how fast a horse ran from the pre-stretch call to the finish, is above 100 in their last race before the Preakness: Five of the past 12 long shots (10-1 odds or higher) to hit the board met that criteria heading into the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Quip finished second in the Grade I Arkansas Derby but closed fast, earning a 107 Brisnet LP speed figure from the last call to the finish. Tenfold earned a 108 Brisnet LP speed figure from the last call to the finish in that same race, where he finished fifth. Since 1963, 54 horses breaking from Post 1 have a record of just 2-7-9, the two winners being Tabasco Cat in 1994 and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015, perhaps casting some doubt on Quip’s chances to finish in the money.

PP Horse M/L Odds Last race Finish in last race LP in last race
1 Quip 12-1 Arkansas Derby (G1) 2nd 107
2 Lone Sailor 15-1 Kentucky Derby (G1) 8th 95
3 Sporting Chance 30-1 Pat Day Mile (G3) 4th 82
4 Diamond King 30-1 Federico Tesio Stakes 1st 95
6 Tenfold 20-1 Arkansas Derby (G1) 5th 108
8 Bravazo 20-1 Kentucky Derby (G1) 6th 91

In an eight-horse field it becomes less cumbersome to use multiple contenders in the trifecta or superfecta, so here’s how you could create exotic tickets that maximize your value.

Trifecta betting strategies 

This looks like a two-horse race, so key Justify and Good Magic in the top two spots and then use Quip and Tenfold in the show spot. This won’t make you rich, but the Preakness doesn’t lend itself to surprises. An alternative is to use Justify and Good Magic up top and then take advantage of the 50-cent trifecta option to use all the remaining horses in the third slot at a cost of $6.

Superfecta betting strategy

Don’t overthink it. Justify and Good Magic to finish 1-2 and then mash the “All” button for the next two spots. At 10 cents per ticket, this strategy only costs $6 yet the median return has been $186.24 on 10-cent super tickets over the past 18 years.

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