2023 Preakness Weekend: The House Versus Straus

by Mark Strausberg
MLB Futures Bets Mid-April

The third weekend in May is typically my birthday weekend, so it of course one of my favorite weekends of the year. I rarely get my wish to be left alone all weekend so I can watch sports. But the watching of the Preakness is a decades-old tradition in my house, which of course brings me to the focus of our 2023 Preakness Weekend: The House Versus Straus episode, the Preakness.

But the 2023 Preakness Weekend gives us a cornucopia of sports this weekend. In addition to the second jewel of the Triple Crown, we also have the semi-finals of the NBA Playoffs and the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. But that's not all, we also have the second of the four major golf championships, the PGA Championship. In addition to all these premium events, we also have plenty of baseball games, a NASCAR race, some UFC action, and even for the football-starved fan some USFL action on tap!

And I know I left plenty out. I could not even possibly even begin to cover all the action that is going on this week or even all the action I have when it comes to sports gambling.

However, I will try to mention at least a few of my favorites.

So with that in mind, here are some of my favorite bets for this 2023 Preakness Weekend.

*Note that all these props come from the DraftKings Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.

2023 Preakness Weekend: The House Versus Straus

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My Preakness Pick

Let's start with this fact that you might not know: Longshots have even less success at the Preakness than they do at the Kentucky Derby. Well, let me clarify that a little. They have less success at winning the Preakness than they do the Derby. Some of the longer shots are not bad options to have at the bottom of your ticket.

Therefore I will not have Chasethechaos (50-1), Coffeewithchris (20-1), and Perform (15-1) anywhere near the top of my ticket. Also, while I do love the name of 6-1 shot BlazingSevens, it will not be anywhere near the top of my ticket either. I like trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz, but Blazing Sevens is winless since last fall and its bloodline is nothing elite.

Unfortunately, I also hate the value of Kentucky Derby Winner Mage, who opened at 8-5, but I am having a difficult time seeing that horse finish outside of the top three. Not only do I hate the 8-5 value on Mage, but I also hate the value on Mage's biggest challenger, the 5-2 First Mission. But I do like First Mission to finish in the money based upon a number of factors.

One is that First Mission has reached an Equibase Speed Figure of 103. Second, First Mission's trainer Brad Cox has a long history of horses finishing in the money at the Preakness. Third, First Mission's pedigree caught my attention with Street Sense-Elude, by Megalia d'Oro.

A Four-Horse Trifecta?

Even a box exacta with those horses doesn't thrill me. However, what if we combine those horses with two other horses in a 4-horse box trifecta? Now we are getting somewhere!  So we will add Red Route 1 and National Treasure to our ticket. Both have strong pedigrees with proven trainer/jockey combos. So our wager will be a $1 trifecta of National Treasure, Mage, and First Mission with all three horses in the second and third spots as well along with Red Route One. That will cost us $18. However, I will add that you should probably box the whole thing for an extra $6.

Even if you throw the extra six bucks in, I promise you that if any of those four horses finish in the top three spots in this 148th running of the Preakness, you will be looking at a nice little profit! Depending on what order they finish, you could easily be looking at a three-digit profit.

Let's look at some of the other sports gambling action I'm recommending this 2023 Preakness Weekend.

Keith Mitchell Top 20 Finish (+160)

Mitchell is just one of my four favorite Top 20 Finish bets to place after Round 1 was suspended late Thursday evening. It doesn't quite match the +500 for a Top 20 Finish I got on him pre-tourney. But recommending a bet to you you no longer can get doesn't provide a whole lot of value. But currently T-10, I would still recommend the value you can get on Mitchell at +160, especially if you add in the 18% boost that DraftKings is offering!

Another one of my favorites is Ryan Fox at +125, who I just happened to recommend in my PGA Championship deep values article earlier this week. I also happened to recommend Eric Cole, who is your current leader, so you might want to check that out. Because yes, sometimes, I really do know what I'm talking about. My two other Top 20 Finish bets you might want to make are Ricky Fowler at +250 and Chris Kirk at +190.

But Mitchell was my favorite of the four before the tourney and that is for quite a few reasons. For one, I think the books absolutely nailed the studs and the 25 or so bottom duds that stand no chance. However, I really think the books swung and missed on a bunch of the "middle tier" options and Mitchell is one of them.

Mucho Love For Mitchell

Mitchell finished his round on Thursday and is currently tied for tenth, he's already a quarter of the way there to finishing in the Top 20. Plus he can sleep comfortably tonight knowing he will have a fresh start at Round 2 tomorrow unlike some of the other golfers he is tied with in 10th place like Victor Perez, Josh Rose, and Adam Hadwin.

But even if he didn't, he is still a great horse for this course. This course this week is going to reward those with power and few golfers on tour have more than Mitchell. The 6'1 185-pounder is 8th in Driving Distance of All Drives, 5th in Shots Gained Off the Tee, and 1st in Total Driving. However, he brings more than that to the table.

For one, Mitchell is having a very good year already, having made the cut in 14 of 17 tournaments. He has six Top 25s and four Top 10s already this season. He's also played the PGA Championship three times in the last five years, and each time he improved at least ten places over his previous finish. Do I think Mitchell is going to be ahead of some of the big names currently at the top? Nope. But at plus odds, do I think he's a slam dunk to finish in the top 20? I do.

Nikola Jokic Finals MVP (+160)

Grab this bet while you still can. Because another Laker loss and this bet will surely drop. And another Celtics loss and we will see it drop even further.

Because the beauty of Finals MVP bets is they are very closely correlated to the NBA Finals Winner, but you can usually get them at slightly better odds. Such is the case here. As of the afternoon of May 18th, the Denver Nuggets were favored to win the whole thing on FanDuel at +140 and were listed at an even +150 with the Celtics on DraftKings. But both sites are offering the Joker to win the MVP at +160.

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Will The Joker Have Us Laughing?

So we need to ask ourselves a couple of additional questions. First off, if Denver wins the whole enchilada (and I've got a preseason ticket at +1600 says they do!), can you see anyone else winning Finals MVP besides Jokic? I can't. A Finals MVP from the losing team is less frequent than a heartfelt public apology from Kanye West.

And if Denver wins, we all know it will be because of Jokic. I like Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, et al....but they won't be the ones driving the Nuggets' championship diesel.

Of course, the Nuggets still have to win. But as great of a career as LeBron James has had, he's running out of gas, and at age 38, I don't see him making it to the finish line. Denver is already up a game and just has to play .500 the rest of the series with the final game in Denver if necessary.

Meanwhile. expect Boston and Miami to be an absolute battle. Miami has already taken Game 1 in Boston. But the winner of this series will come out much worse for the wear due to the physical nature of that Series.

I'm not betting against Denver and Jokic. Make the bet.

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