It might seem quite obvious, but it’s crucial for handicappers to recognize that the Preakness Stakes presents a significantly different challenge compared to the Kentucky Derby.

What makes the Run for the Roses truly unique is the field of 20 horses, where more than half have a plausible shot at victory.

The Kentucky Derby’s unpredictable nature stems from the large field.

Another crucial distinction between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness (and all other races) is the influx of casual betting on the First Saturday in May.

The Derby is more of a celebratory occasion and one of the select few events (alongside the Super Bowl and March Madness) that turns most people into punters.

With substantial recreational participation in betting, punters can find great value on some excellent horses in the Kentucky Derby.

This is a primary reason why it stands as one of the top betting days annually.

Regrettably, the Preakness pool sees a more balanced ratio of smart to casual money, creating sharper odds.

However, the 149th edition of the Preakness Stakes is poised to offer excellent value following the withdrawal of the 8-5 favorite, No. 4 Muth, due to illness announced on Wednesday.

This development has completely shifted the dynamics.

Sunrise lights up the Pimlico Race Course track in Baltimore on May 14, 2024, as horses prepare for this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. TNS

Implications of Muth’s Withdrawal

Without Muth in contention, the race now becomes wide open.

Kentucky Derby champion No. 5 Mystik Dan will likely emerge as the clear favorite at post time with strong backing from those hoping for a Triple Crown victory.

Another horse that could see increased attention due to Muth’s absence is No. 9 Imagination.

Imagination, under Bob Baffert’s training like Muth, tends to attract support from Baffert loyalists, especially now with only one of his horses in the running.

Oppose the Derby Victor

While Mystik Dan’s favoritism is warranted following Muth’s exit, the odds on the Triple Crown hopeful will likely be too short.

While his triumph at Churchill Downs was impressive, it’s essential to remember he was a long shot for a reason.

While the victory boosted his credentials, especially in a weaker field, the odds will not be favorable for a horse facing a quick turnaround.

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Prime Selections

No. 8 Tuscan Gold (8-1)

Handled by Chad Brown, Tuscan Gold secured a third-place finish at the Louisiana Derby, the same distance as the Preakness, in his last outing.

Despite being relatively inexperienced, this could work in his favor in a field featuring favorites and others (including No. 3 Catching Freedom) from the Kentucky Derby in a quick return.

Brown, a two-time Preakness victor in the past seven years, has specifically targeted this event for Tuscan Gold.

No. 6 Seize the Grey (15-1)

It’s logical to back a longer shot in this competitive field, and Seize the Grey stands out.

Trained by D Wayne Lukas, Seize the Grey recorded a notable victory in the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day and has a strong possibility of leading towards the finish line now that Muth is out.

The distance might pose a challenge, but the odds make a strong case for consideration.