TEMECULA, Calif. (May 17, 2018) – The saying at Pimlico Racetrack outside of Baltimore, the home of the Preakness Stakes, is “If it doesn’t happen here, it doesn’t happen.”
“It,” in this case, is achieving one of the most elusive feats in sports – winning horse racing’s Triple Crown. But regardless of whether Kentucky Derby winner Justify will justify his quest for sporting immortality by winning the second jewel of the Triple Crown this Saturday – the 143rd Preakness Stakes — the place for you to watch it happen is the Pechanga OTB parlor.
Located inside the Poker Room on the second floor above Pechanga’s spacious casino, Pechanga OTB is once again offering reserved seats for $30 for the first two rows – which feature a personal television monitor at each seat — and $25 for the next two. Seats for viewing and wagering will also be available in the Round Bar on a first-come, first-served basis.
As always, the value play for any horse player is the special menu available to guests on Preakness Saturday. For $10.95, guests can dine on Barbecue Chicken with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Baked Beans and Corn on the Cob, along with accompaniments such as Macaroni Salad and Assorted Fruit. And as always, there is no charge for coffee, sodas or water.
With Pechanga OTB’s first-ever Kentucky Derby party a wild success, with excited fans crowding the Pechanga OTB room and the Round Bar to watch Justify win the Kentucky Derby by 2 ½ lengths, racing fans and horse players are advised to stake out their turf early. Especially when it comes to getting your wagers down.
As the 5-2 favorite, Justify became the sixth consecutive favorite to win the Kentucky Derby and broke the infamous “Curse of Apollo” by being the first horse to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. But with 85-1 longshot Instilled Regard finishing fourth behind Justify, Good Magic and Audible, the savviest of savvy horse players cashed superfecta tickets good for $19.618.
“Our Kentucky Derby party exceeded even our expectations, not only with the great crowd of horse racing fans and horse players we had, but with a horse like Justify showing how he could be the next Triple Crown winner by dominating such a strong field,” said Richie Lopez, Pechanga’s assistant director of the poker room and OTB parlor. “We could be seeing history unfold once again and Pechanga OTB is proud to welcome fans and horse players to watch and wager on it here.”
The eight-horse Preakness field features four horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago: Justify (1-2 morning-line odds), runner-up Good Magic (3-1), sixth-place Bravazo (20-1) and eighth-place Lone Sailor (15-1). And naturally, all discussion begins with Justify, who is trained by Hall-of-Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The de-facto Face of Horse Racing, Baffert is seeking his record-tying seventh Preakness victory. His four previous Derby winners: Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Point Given (2001) and Triple Crown-winner American Pharoah (2015) all went on to win the Preakness.
Starting in the No. 7 gate and with standout jockey Mike Smith aboard, Justify is 4-for-4 since February. He has beaten good horses on fast tracks in sunshine and beaten good horses on sloppy tracks in the muck – as witnessed in the Derby. He has early speed, late finishing skills and in the 52-year-old athletic freak that is Smith, a jockey smart enough to handle all of the above – and then some.
While it may be a tad premature to fit him for a Triple Crown, this is Justify’s race to lose, especially over the 1 3/16th-mile Preakness, the shortest of the Triple Crown races.
So who else is there? Well, Good Magic did give Justify a push down the Derby stretch. Trained by one of the most underrated trainers in the business, Chad Brown — who won the 2017 Preakness with 14-1 shot Cloud Computing — and the progeny of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin, Good Magic showed he can run in the slop. Given there is rain in the forecast for Saturday, this makes Good Magic a good choice for any exotic wagers.
What about the two other Derby veterans: Bravazo and Lone Sailor? Trained by 82-year-old D. Wayne Lukas, who has won this race six times, Bravazo’s only romp in the mud came in his sixth-place Derby finish, where he went off at 67-1. He looks to be one of those proverbial good-but-not-great, supporting-cast-style horses, especially given his competition.
As does Lone Sailor. Owned by the barn of the late Tom Benson, who owned the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, Lone Sailor has won in the mud, albeit at seven furlongs (or 70 percent of the distance he’ll be expected to run Saturday). He is an adaptable horse who can run either near the front or back in the pack, but figures to be fighting for a spot on the board.
Every big race has a wild card and every race has one horse with a cute name. Meet Quip (12-1), the 2018 Preakness version of the could-he-spoil-the-parade/let’s-get-on-the-contrarian-bandwagon story.
Winner of three of his five races, including the Grade 2 Tampa Derby, and runner up in a fourth (the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby), Quip had enough qualifying points to run in the Derby. But trainer Rodolphe Brisset elected to pass the Derby and lie in wait at the Preakness. Quip has the speed necessary for the Preakness, but has two strikes against him: he’s starting from the dreaded No. 1 post on the rail and he’s never run in the mud.
Regardless of who you like and why you like them, it’s always a good value bet to watch and wager on the biggest races of the year at Pechanga OTB.
Pechanga OTB is open Wednesday through Monday, with live simulcasts from America’s best racetracks featured on 22 flat-screens and on individual monitors at several of the 72 comfortable seats. Special events are planned for racing’s biggest days, such as Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, which means for more information on the numerous promotions, please see www.pechanga.com.