Preakness Stakes Betting Guide


The middle leg of the Triple Crown takes place at Pimlico, just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. Nowadays, it is rare to see runners competing in both of the opening legs, with many runners from Churchill Downs opting to bypass the Preakness Stakes in favor of a run in the Belmont Stakes.

However, the Preakness Stakes remains one of the standout events on the horse racing calendar. You can find everything you need to know about the event in this Preakness Stakes betting guide.

Best Sportsbook For Betting On The Preakness Stakes

First Wager Bonus 100% up to $1250
Promotions See Website
Multiple Promotions: See Website

When it comes to horse racing, the Triple Crown is the ultimate prize. Well, for the horses, jockeys, and owners, anyway. However, for those of us who play the ponies, the three races of the Triple Crown present three fantastic opportunities for big returns, and what can be more important than that?

Every third Saturday in May, we get our second opportunity for those big payouts with the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The second leg of the Triple Crown draws an impressive field of contestants. There is always excellent value in the betting markets, as many factors must be considered. However, the sportsbooks that we believe are the best for Preakness Stakes betting can be found above.

Preakness Stakes History

Even though it was inaugurated two years before the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes is the second event of the Triple Crown. The event had its first run in 1873, and it is the shortest among the Triple Crown races, with a distance of 1 3⁄16 miles being covered. This makes it slightly shorter than the Kentucky Derby and substantially shorter than the Belmont stakes. Just like the other two events, the Preakness Stakes is meant only for horses aged three.

The original distance of the race was 1 1/2 miles. However, the organizers went through a long experimental phase and ultimately decided on this current distance in 1925. The first race may have only featured seven horses, but Survivor managed a 10-length victory that held a record as the largest margin of victory for 131 years.

As the second event in the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes enjoys a higher attendance than the Belmont Stakes, and it is only behind the Kentucky Derby on this front.

Preakness Stakes Previous Winners

2022Early Voting+600Chad BrownJose Ortiz
2021Rombauer+1200Michael McCarthyFlavien Prat
2020Swiss Skydiver+1200Kenny McPeekRobby Albarado
2019War of Will+600Tyler GaffalioneMark Casse
2018Justify+100Bob BaffertMike E. Smith
2017Cloud Computing+1400Chad C. BrownJavier Castellano
2016Exaggerator+700J. Keith DesormeauxKent J. Desormeaux
2015American Pharoah+400Bob BaffertVictor Espinoza
2014California Chrome+300Art ShermanVictor Espinoza
2013Oxbow+3200D. Wayne LukasGary L. Stevens
2012I’ll Have Another+800Doug F. O’NeillMario Gutierrez
2011Shackleford+2800Dale L. RomansJesus Lopez Castanon
2010Lookin At Lucky+700Bob BaffertMartin Garcia
2009Rachel Alexandra+600Steven M. AsmussenCalvin H. Borel

Where Is The Preakness Stakes Held?

Pimlico Race Course is the location for the Preakness Stakes. This race course is located in Baltimore, United States. Nicknamed the ‘Old Hilltop’, the track is a favorite amongst thoroughbred trainers. It is also the second-oldest venue for horse racing in the United States. The course opened three years before the first Preakness Stakes event.

Pimlico Race Course has been able to come through several problems throughout its history, like the Great Fire of Baltimore in 1904. The city has also gone through several riots. Despite being more than a century old, the venue has stood firm as one of the greatest horse racing events in the world. However, the mediocre location and outdated facilities threaten to take the Preakness Stakes elsewhere.

The racetrack is often seen as advantageous for runners in the middle. The last five decades of racing have witnessed less than five horses get success from the rail position. Most of the Preakness champions in the last two decades have been from the middle. It is also remarkable that Post 6 alone has yielded more than 15% of successful runners.

What Is the Preakness Stakes Format?

Only 14 runners can take part in the Preakness Stakes. However, the intense popularity of the event means that 300 horses are nominated annually. A $15,000 fee is required to get past the entry box, while another $15,000 is required to start the race.

The final line-up consists based on the prize money won by entrants. In such an instance, the first seven places go to the horses that have picked up most earnings in greater races. Another four places are awarded to horses with high earnings in stakes races. The last three places are handed out to horses with high earnings from maiden special weights, claiming races, or handicaps. Crucially, a horse cannot be denied entry into the Preakness Stake if it finishes in the top five of the Kentucky Derby.

Betting Options

A bettor who is about to wager on the Preakness Stakes has many options. These can range from straight bets to exotic ones.

Straight Bets

  • Win – This is the easiest bet at an event like Preakness, as bettors only need to pick the winner.
  • Place – Bettors get extra insurance on this bet, as a chosen horse can finish first or second. Even though this substantially improves the odds of success, it also causes a price drop. This is a great option only when you are not sure about two horses.
  • Show – This option can be used to increase the probability of success even further. A chosen horse has to finish in one of the top three positions. A bet pays out irrespective of the position as long as it is in the top three.

Exotic Bets

  • Quinella – This bet can be used to pick two horses that will finish in the top two places. This is almost like a win bet but with the added pressure of making a correct pick for the second horse.
  • Exacta – This is similar to Quinella bet, with the only difference being that the exact order of finish is required. Apart from picking the winner, this bet also requires the bettor to pick the runner-up.
  • Trifecta – Trifecta is comparable to an Exacta bet in terms of requiring the exact order of finish, but bettors have to pick the first three positions. Hence, this is much more difficult, and it pays out very well.
  • Superfecta – A lot of luck may be required to succeed in a Superfecta bet, as a bettor needs to pick four horses. All four horses have to cross the finishing line in the exact order. Many tracks have a $1 minimum on the Superfecta, but there are online bookmakers who even accept $0.10 as a minimum wager on this market.

Why Choose Online Sportsbooks?

There are several reasons to choose an online betting site over offline options, which are more traditional. The bonuses offered by online betting sites will be massive, as this is one of the biggest horse racing events on the calendar.

Hence, special promotions would apply for this event. You will likely encounter long lines if you use betting facilities at the racetrack. However, there are no such hassles when placing an online wager. It is also easy to compare prices and get the best value.

How to Pick The Preakness Stakes Winner


The Kentucky Derby is competed over 1 1/4 miles, while the Preakness lasts for 1 3/16 miles. Even though this may not seem like a huge difference on paper, it can be very different for the horse. The Derby can take a toll on horses, which are primarily bred for speed rather than stamina. Even during the Derby, some horses clearly show signs of being unable to handle the length as they approach the final turn.

This distance can have a major impact after the end of the race. Horses may feel spent, and they may not have the energy required to push beyond this barrier. The Preakness is over a shorter length, and there is less worry about energy spent in the race, even though the distance may still be a concern.

Avoiding Longshots

The temptation of getting a huge profit with little risk might sound tempting, but this is not the right way to pick winners in the Preakness Stakes. Sure, the long shot has been successful on numerous occasions at the Kentucky Derby, but the scenario changes completely with this race. Since the event takes place after a big event like the Kentucky Derby, horses will likely be a little tired. This is especially true in the case of horses that took part in the Kentucky Derby. The small field also makes it quite tricky.

The iconic long shot winner in the Preakness was in 1975 when Master Derby picked up a victory at +2300. Since the turn of the century, only eight horses have been able to win despite starting with a price greater than +1000. Since this is the shortest of the Triple Crown races, money should be on the best horses.

Recent Form

The recent form of a horse holds a lot of value when it comes to predicting the winner. Many online resources check if the horse has performed well in the last ten races. Analyzing the horse’s recent form can also help identify healthy runners.

Choosing Horses That Aim for Triple Crown

The best horses in the business are aiming for the Triple Crown. Hence, the best three-year-olds that have taken part in the Kentucky Derby will also take part in the Preakness historically. However, recent trends show that fewer runners are targeting all three races. Since 1986, just five horses have succeeded in the Preakness after skipping the Kentucky Derby.

It is very likely that a horse that has picked up the Kentucky Derby will be ranked as a favorite, but this may not be a good option. Since 2013, there have been just three Kentucky Derby winners – California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018) – who have gone on to pick up the Preakness Stake success. However, it has to be remembered that all three horses are exceptional.

Importance of Pedigree

The homework has to be done about pedigree to figure out horses that are capable of withstanding the distance. Just like with the Kentucky Derby, where sires of past winners have a greater chance of success, Preakness Stakes winners can also be identified through the pedigree. Previous Preakness winners have sired ten sons who have won the famous race. The importance placed on a pedigree cannot be underestimated.

Recovery Time

It takes a lot of time and effort to handicap horses and races. A bettor must study charts, statistics, class ratings, speed figures, and pedigree. However, some make the mistake of skipping past the recovery time, which is very crucial in the case of this race. Since horses that take part in the Kentucky Derby only have two weeks before they enter into the Preakness Stakes, it is important to understand the horse’s character and ability to stand through such strenuous tests.

Even though thoroughbreds are treated with a lot of care and attention, they have put in much effort. Some horses can handle this short rest period, but many cannot deal with the same. The two-week recovery time may not be sufficient, and it is important to identify horses that can perform well even with such a quick turnaround.

Field Size

The Kentucky Derby can have a field size of 20 horses, but it is down to just 14 in the case of the Preakness Stakes. Even then, this field can be much larger than many of the other races. In fact, the reduction in field size compared to the Kentucky Derby means that the outside horses can start closer to the rail.

It also means that fewer horses are jostling for a position on the track. There is a great potential for traffic in the Derby, and it causes a lot of concern when trying to determine the trip a horse will take. This is less of a problem in the Preakness Stakes, but it cannot be completely avoided either. The lesser the field size, the easier it is to identify a winner.

Latest Headlines