Noel’s Weekend Winners: Best Bets for Preakness and Dinner Party Stakes

Noel’s Weekend Winners: Best Bets for Preakness and Dinner Party Stakes

Welcome to Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners, the place to go for weekend best bets and spot plays from veteran handicapper and tournament-play pioneer Noel Michaels. Check back every week for a couple of highlighted selections designed to help you cash a few bets and make some money.

Noel’s selections have been featured just about everywhere horse racing picks can be found, including in print in the Daily Racing Form, The HorsePlayer Magazine and American Turf Monthly, online at DRF.com, Twinspires.com and USRacing.com, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA’s SatuTalking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.

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Six Beginner Betting Tools

  1. Start simple with an easy guide for how to bet on horse racing.
  2. Not sure what that word means? Horse racing terminology is a language of its own. Allow us translate for you
  3. What the heck is a speed figure? This beginner’s guide to speed figures has everything you need to know.
  4. Betting on horse racing can be intimidating. Team ABR put together some Dos and Don’ts for the new fan getting started betting on racing.
  5. We all make mistakes when it comes to betting on horse racing, here are eight lessons learned from experience.
  6. Figure out how much each bet will cost in advance with our Gambling Calculator, presented by NYRA Bets.

The Triple Crown trail winds through Maryland this week with the Preakness Stakes headlining this Saturday’s horse racing action at Pimlico. The Preakness Stakes is the featured race on a loaded 14-race Pimlico card that also includes eight other stakes races. The Preakness suffered a setback when morning-line favorite Muth was scratched on Wednesday, but the field is still good, and there’s an opportunity to beat the favorites. Saturday’s Preakness undercard will be topped by the $500,000, Grade 3 Dinner Party Stakes on turf. For this weekend’s winners, let’s focus on cashing some bets on Pimlico’s two biggest races, the Dinner Party Stakes and the Preakness Stakes. Good luck this Saturday and enjoy the second jewel of the 2024 Triple Crown.

Saturday, May 18

Pimlico, Race 12, $500,000 Dinner Party Stakes, post time 5:52 p.m. ET

The Grade 3 Dinner Party Stakes has drawn a full 12-horse field set to run 1 1/8 miles on the grass. Rain is a possibility in the weather forecast, so we may need to prepare for less-than-firm turf. Chad Brown has a barn overloaded with high-quality turf stakes horses, and the one that he chose for this spot is #5 Running Bee, who is in good form now and ready for a breakthrough at the graded stakes level. Running Bee just missed by a half a length two races ago from post 10 in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes and then won a stakes-caliber Keeneland allowance last time. The third-place finisher from that race, multiple graded stakes winner Master Piece, already came back to win Grade 2 Fort Marcy Stakes in his next race. Running Bee should sit a perfect trip stalking or pressing the pace and pounce in the stretch. The other two top contenders here are # 9 Beatbox, who prefers a wetter turf course, and #10 Emmanuel, who prefers a firmer turf course. Beatbox won the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Stakes Presented by Horse Racing Nation two races ago on soft turf and his connections will be hoping for rain. Emmanuel is a five-time graded stakes winner on the grass who exits a fifth-place finish against the best of the best in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes.

The Play: Bet to win on #5 Running Bee (9-2). Play Running Bee in separate exacta boxes with #9 Beatbox (5-1) and #10 Emmanuel (5-2).

Pimlico, Race 13, $2,000,000 Preakness Stakes, post time 7:01 p.m. ET

A field of eight contenders is set to race 1 3/16 miles in the 2024 Preakness Stakes. The field is led by Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner #5 Mystik Dan trained by Ken McPeek, but for the second straight year the race may come down to trainers Bob Baffert and Chad Brown who could reprise their Preakness exacta photo finish from 2023 between Baffert’s National Treasure and Brown’s Blazing Sevens. This year, the pair to watch for a Brown and Baffert exacta will be #8 Tuscan Gold and #9 Imagination.

One of the keys to handicapping the Preakness is to look for horses with speed or tactical speed that preferably won’t need to come from too far off the pace. Derby horses with just two weeks between races also can be at a disadvantage in the Preakness against fresher challengers. Mystik Dan rallied from mid-pack in the Derby and probably will be used a bit in the early stages of the Preakness to establish a stalking position. #3 Catching Freedom, who comes into the Preakness off a solid fourth-place effort in the Derby, owns even less early speed than Mystik Dan and will be in an even worse pace spot needing to make a last-to-first move in order to win. He will not only need to pass the leaders, but he will also need to outrun a stalker like Mystik Dan who figures to get the jump on him. Mystik Dan and Catching Freedom may be the first and second favorites on the tote board, and that gives us a good chance to beat the favorites in the 2024 Preakness.

Trainer Bob Baffert had to scratch Muth, but he will still have a live contender in the race with #9 Imagination, who won Santa Anita Park’s DK Horse San Felipe Stakes and just missed by a neck in the Santa Anita Derby. He has been pointed to the Preakness since then, and he has handy front-running speed but doesn’t necessarily need a clear lead to win. This is good news because trainer D. Wayne Lukas has two horses in the race and at least one of them is likely to be sent to contest the pace. Can Imagination fend off pressure and go all the way? It’s a definite possibility. If not, the winner is likely to be Mystik Dan or the other stalker in the race that seems to have even better tactical speed, #8 Tuscan Gold. Chad Brown has a good record in the Preakness (wins in 2022 with Early Voting and 2017 with Cloud Computing), and Tuscan Gold has improved sharply in each of his career starts so far. He is likely to move forward again off his third-place finish last time in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby and that improvement could be enough to win with what figures to be a perfect stalking pace setup in the Preakness with first run at the leaders.

The Play:  Bet #8 Tuscan Gold (9-2) to win and box him in the exacta and trifecta with #5 Mystik Dan (8-5), and #9 Imagination (3-1).

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