Preakness: Tale of Verve Gives Us a Winnng Exacta

American Pharoah after winning the Preakness

American Pharoah after winning the Preakness


By Jim  Freer

Monday, May 18 — If you made  our suggested Preakness bets, you were cheering loudly and feeling saved when Tale of Verve weaved his way through the slop and beat Divining Rod by a length for second place.

Tale of Verve, at 28-1, finished seven lengths behind the 4-5 favorite American Pharoah. The $1 exacta  paid $62.20. That was part of our suggested saver exacta part wheel.

We also had a $3 show bet on Divining Rod that paid $7.80.  Otherwise, we had no payouts.

Our $50 in hedge-style Preakness bets resulted in a $70 payoff–a 40 percent return on investment.

That cut into the loss thus far on our Triple Crown  bets.

We had $132 in suggested bets and a return of  $75.30 on the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

One of our winners was a saver exacta part  wheel of     American Pharoah over Firing Line that paid $36.30.

Our totals through  the Preakness are $182 in bets and  $145.30 in payoffs.  That is a 20 percent loss on investment.

We’ll try for a profit in  the Belmont Stakes on June 6 when American  Pharoah  attempts to  become the  first Triple Crown  winner  since Affirmed  in  1978.

He  could face as many as ten challengers. Our  early view is that  Materiality will  be the top threat.

.Materiality won the Florida  Derby at Gulfstream Park  on March  28 and finished a late-running  sixth in the Kentucky Derby on May  2 after  a very troubled trip.   Trainer Todd Pletcher did not run him in the Preakness

Preakness Recap

We predicted that Firing  Line would win and would be followed by American Pharoah. Divining Rod and Dortmund.

Our starting  point bet was a $1 exacta box of Firing  Line, American  Pharoah and  Divining Rod.

Our saver exacta  had  American  Pharoah and  Firing  Line on  top. Underneath, we had  those two horses with  Dortmund, Mr, Z, Tale of  Verve  and  Danzig Moon.   That is ten  $1  bets  for a total of $10.

In the Kentucky Derby. Firing Line finished second by a length  to American Pharoah after their thrilling stretch duel.  Dortmund was in that battle until deep  stretch and came in third, a length behind Firing Line

Firing Line had the outside post in  the eight-horse Preakness, and we  thought that could be an advantage considering his tactical speed.

Factoring in  the forecast of a possible downpour  that indeed arrived  shortly before Preakness  post  time, we  found  more to like about American  Pharoah and Firing  Line.

American Pharoah was the only horse with a win  on an off track– in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn  Park on  March 15.

Firing Line had never raced on  a  wet track. But  he  is a  grandson of Lion Heart whose progeny often take well  to off tracks,   Lion Heart is  widely  known  for  finishing second to  Smarty  Jones in quagmire-like  conditions at  the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

But Firing Line stumbled leaving the Preakness  starting gate, and one of  his front heels  clipped  a back  heel.

That incident,  called “grabbing  a quarter,”  often hinders a horse from reaching  best stride in a race.

Firing  Line never advanced beyond  fifth place  Jockey Gary  Stevens eased him in the stretch and  he came in seventh,  48 lengths  behind American Pharoah.

Early indications are that  Firing Line will not  run in the Belmont.

Tale  of  Verve caught our pre-race attention for two  big  reasons

*He had a win at  the  1 3/16  mile Preakness distance.  That was in  a maiden race at Keenland on April 23,  The  time of 2:00.23  was not stakes caliber.  But he won by two widening lengths and appeared ready to keep running.

For the Preakness, it was likely that That Tale of  Verve would pass some tiring horses with  a shot at  hitting the board  if  one or more of the favorites faltered or had a  troubled  trip.   Dortmund appeared  to  tire in the  stretch, and Firing Line lost all  chance at  the start.

*Tale of Verve’s trainer Dallas Stewart has a record  of finishing second with horses at 25-1 or higher n Triple Crown races. Those runners-up were Macho  Again (2008  Preakness),  Golden  Soul  (2013  Kentucky Derby) and Commanding  Curve  (2014 Kentucky Derby).

n  last year’s Derby  the $1 exacta of  5-2 favorite

California Chrome and 37-1 late-running Commanding  Curve  paid  $170.00.  We had it in our saver  exacta part wheel.

The generally soft-spoken  Stewart  is  talking very optimistically about Tale  of  Verve’s chances in  the Belmont.

But note that Derby star Commanding Curve was sent off  at 9-1 in  last  year’s  Belmont. He failed to challenge and  finished  ninth.

California Chrome won  the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in  dominant fashion.   But  he came in  fourth in the Belmont behind Tonalist,   Commissioner and Medal Count.

American Pharoah will be  the tenth horse since  1997 to  go  into the Belmont with a shot at the Triple Crown   Eight of  those predecessors failed to win the Belmont.  I’ll Have  Another was scratched the day  before the 2012 Belmont.

All of  this  is a reminder that in  horse racing, as  in life itself,  it  is important to keep  n mind that what  happened  last  time  will not  necessarily happen  again next time.

The Belmont is next  time  and is less  than three weeks away   It is  not too soon to  start  handicapping, and  we welcome you to send your ideas to us at










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