Preakness Stakes Betting Guide For New York

The 146th Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown, is set for May 15, 2021, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

The following is a guide to its rich history, significant handicapping variables and betting information.

First run in 1873, the Preakness occurs two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. It has multimillion-dollar wagering interest and routinely drew crowds in excess of 100,000 The result of this race dramatically impacts interest in the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York, which will run June 5.

If the Derby winner also captures the Preakness, betting will skyrocket with a potential Triple Crown sweep at the Belmont. As such, the Preakness is a valued link to the first and third Triple Crown events.

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How to bet on the Preakness Stakes in NY

New York bettors can access the action via the TVG horse betting app and wager on their cell phones, computers or tablets.

State race tracks conducting live meets also can accommodate Preakness betting, if they are allowing spectators. Simulcasting facilities, which allow a specified number of customers, add another betting venue.

Here are the New York tracks bettors can consult with and/or attend as the event draws closer:

FacilityAddressCity
Aqueduct11000 Rockaway BlvdOzone Park
Belmont Park2150 Hempstead TurnpikeElmont
Buffalo Raceway5600 McKinley ParkwayHamburg
Finger Lakes5857 NY-96Farmington
Monticello Raceway204 NY 17 BMonticello
Saratoga Race Course267 Union AveSaratoga Springs
Tioga Downs2834 W. River RdNichols
Vernon Downs4229 Stuhlman RdVernon
Yonkers Raceway810 Yonkers AveYonkers

2021 Preakness Stakes odds and betting favorites

This one is much easier to narrow down than betting on the Kentucky Derby because the Derby will weed out the pretenders. Odds for this year’s Preakness Stakes are now available, provided by TVG.

Post PositionHorseJockeyMorning Line Odds
1RamRicardo Santana30-1
2KeepmeinmindDavid Cohen15-1
3Medina SpiritJohn Velazquez9-5
4Crowded TradeJavier Castellano10-1
5Midnight BourbonIrad Ortiz Jr.5-1
6RombauerFlavien Prat 12-1
7France Go de InaJoel Rosario 20-1
8Unbridled HonorLuis Saez15-1
9Risk Taking Jose Ortiz15-1
10Concert TourMike Smith 5-2

The Kentucky Derby winner has run in the Preakness every year but once since 1996 and always becomes a betting magnet. In recent years, most Derby winners have been short-priced and have run well in the Preakness. Bettors have been able to key their wagering efforts around those horses.

Notable recent examples include American Pharoah, in 2015, who won the Preakness after taking the Derby and later completed the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes. In 2018, Justify took home the Preakness en route to a Triple Crown sweep.

This year, Medina Spirit obviously receives favorability, fresh off a win at the Derby and trained by legendary Bob Baffert.

But there are exceptions to the Derby winner running well. In 2016, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist was run down in the stretch and finished third to Exaggerator, whom he had beaten in the Derby. And it’s difficult to forget 2020, when Derby-winning Authentic finished second after getting outkicked in a scintillating stretch duel with Swiss Skydiver, who became only the sixth filly to win the event.

In 2019, the Derby winner didn’t even run the Preakness, as Country House, who took the Derby by disqualification, withdrew after the owner detected a virus. Even Maximum Security, who suffered the Derby DQ, bypassed the Preakness. Those developments impacted the Preakness, as the top names weren’t involved. But the Preakness became a longshot haven for bettors.

  • Improbable: post-time favorite of 5-2, ran out of the money
  • War of Will: won at 6-1
  • Everfast: ran second at 25-1
  • Owendale: took third at 7-1
  • Warrior’s Charge: at 12-1, completed the superfecta

Common Preakness Stakes bet types

As with the Kentucky Derby, a number of common horse bets exist for the Preakness Stakes.

  • Win: Pick the winning horse. Reasonable odds exist for the Preakness, especially given the top competition.
  • Place: Select a horse to finish in second or better. This market pays less than the win, though it does pay out in the first and second slots.
  • Show: Bet a horse to finish third or higher. While paying lower than win or place, this bet gives you money for the horse finishing first, second or third.
  • Exactas: Correctly pick the order of the top two finishers. It’s always good to box them. There are few things worse than having the right two horses in the wrong order.
  • Trifectas: Choose the top three finishers in order. You can place this bet straight, in a box of three or more horses, or in a partial wheel.
  • The Box: A $1 trifecta box with three horses costs $6. And it becomes a winning ticket if any combination of these three horses finishes in the top three positions.
  • The Key: Bettors can place a horse in the first spot and fill out the second and third spots with three others. To win, the first pick must win, and any combo of the three remaining picks must place and show.
  • Superfecta: Choose the top four horses in the correct order. While extremely difficult to hit, the superfecta can be lucrative if you do.

Lessons from the last two Triple Crown winners

There’s another option if you believe a horse is a strong favorite. Put it on top of five horses in a trifecta key. The $1 trifecta key with five horses costs $20. The “key” to the race is that your top selection must win and the others must fill the second and third slots.

In the 2018 Preakness, Justify was a prohibitive 1-5 favorite. But Bravazo ran second at 15-1 and Tenfold came in third at 25-1. These were just two of the five horses you could have picked “underneath” Justify. The $1 trifecta ticket cost $20 and paid $148.

The same $20 bet on Justify to win would have returned only $28.

In the 2015 Preakness, American Pharoah won by seven lengths at 4-5 betting odds. But Tale of Verve, at 25-1, ran second, and Divining Rod, 12-1, was third. The $1 trifecta paid $492. That’s a nice return on a race won by a big favorite.

There were only eight horses in the race. For $20, a bettor keying American Pharoah would have had most of the remaining field to run second and third. A $20 win bet on American Pharoah would only have returned $38.

How to handicap the Preakness Stakes

This race is easier to find a comfort zone for than the Kentucky Derby.

The Derby winner and top finishers will merit strong wagering consideration. So will any winner of a notable prep race who either skipped the Derby or had an excuse, such as an unfavorable post position or being stuck behind a wall of horses, etc.

Take a further look at horses who skipped the Derby and were entered just for the Preakness.

More help can come from obtaining a Daily Racing Form. They are available online and will indicate which horses, if any, are comfortable running “in the slop.” Some can handle it; some don’t like it at all. The Preakness was run “in the slop” in 2015, 2016 and 2018. This often brings a longshot into the top three or four positions.

Keep an eye on the pace. Get a sense of which horses run near the lead early in their races and which ones “stalk,” trying to run down the leaders in the stretch. In recent Preakness events, the winner has been at or near the front for most of the race. Stalkers or closers can pass tired horses to finish in the top four and perhaps win the race. Watch earlier races on Preakness Day. See from what positions horses are winning and what type of track surface exists.

  • Fast: The best condition for the horses and will reward early speed.
  • Good: How a track might play one day after rain. It is heavy or muddy and horses will tire in it, allowing stalkers or closers to overcome weary frontrunners.
  • Sloppy: It’s wet. Anything goes. Not easy for a horse to rally on with mud flying back in its face. Some horses just aren’t cut out for it. If heavy rain is in the forecast, some horses will be unduly affected. A look at past performance can help identify who likes “the slop.”

Watch the progress of Bob Baffert-trained horses throughout the spring. He is the leading Triple Crown trainer, with 16 victories. The last two Triple Crown champions, Justify and American Pharoah, came from his barn. Baffert is tied for the most Preakness wins with seven.

History of the Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes was named by a former Maryland governor, who made a winning colt at Pimlico the race’s namesake. The race is nicknamed “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” after the blanket of flowers draped over the winning horse. It is the second-most-attended North American horse race, behind only the Kentucky Derby.

Noteworthy winners

For starters, all 13 Triple Crown champions have obviously prevailed at the Preakness:

Horse (Year)
Sir Barton (1919)
Gallant Fox (1930)
Omaha (1935)
War Admiral (1937)
Whirlaway (1941)
Count Fleet (1943)
Assault (1946)
Citation (1948)
Secretariat (1973)
Seattle Slew (1977)
Affirmed (1978)
American Pharoah (2015)
Justify (2018)

The most famous of the six fillies to win the race would likely be Rachel Alexandra, in 2009. She was the first filly to capture the Preakness since Nellie Morse in 1924.

Notable upsets

Flash back to 1972, which provides an argument regarding the Horses for Courses adage. On a sloppy track, Bee Bee Bee upset Riva Ridge, the Derby winner who simply did not like this surface. Riva Ridge went on to win the Belmont, and it’s likely that the Preakness surface helped the 19-1 Bee Bee Bee prevent a Triple Crown.

The setback gave Riva Ridge a rarity of winning the first and last legs of the Triple Crown, but not the Preakness. That’s only happened 11 times, fewer than the number of Triple Crown champions.

Three years later, Master Derby, the longest shot to ever win at 23-1, turned the tables on Foolish Pleasure, who had beaten him soundly in the Derby.

After finishing sixth behind victorious Orb in the 2013 Derby, Oxbow seemingly had no chance to turn the tables. But at the Preakness, he gained a front-running position in “slow fractions.” This means he wasn’t pushed and, at roughly 15-1 Preakness Stakes betting odds, had enough left down the lane to win.

Preakness Stakes FAQ

Can I bet the Preakness Stakes online in New York?

Yes. The TVG horse betting app provides a betting option for those in New York and also allows bettors to watch races.

With the Tap Live feature, you can stream TVG in HD, handicap and place wagers all in the same screen. You can also navigate upcoming races and access track conditions.

What is the purse at the Preakness Stakes?

The Preakness Stakes purse was $1 million last year. Its amount this year will be announced closer to post time. The winning horse usually commands 60% of the purse for the owners.

At what distance is the Preakness Stakes run?

At 1 3⁄16 miles, it is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races. The Kentucky Derby is 1 ¼ miles and the Belmont Stakes is 1 ½ miles. The shorter distance puts a high premium on early speed.

What is the fastest time run at the Preakness Stakes?

The amazing Secretariat provided the mark of 1:53 in 1973. Secretariat also delivered records in the Derby and Belmont, both of which still stand.

What is the attendance record at the Preakness Stakes?

The magic of American Pharoah attracted 131,680 spectators in 2015. The numbers are temporarily moot in the COVID-19 age of limited or no attendance but will regain relevance in the future.

What is the largest margin of victory at the Preakness Stakes?

Smarty Jones, 2004, 11 ½ lengths.

Swiss Skywalker was the sixth filly to win this storied event. Who was the first?

That was Flocarline in 1903. Pull this one out of your pocket to win some bets with your friends.

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