Horse racing is great because there’s always plenty of action on the board. Whether it’s a big race like the Preakness Stakes or a daily card at one of the many racetracks across the country, there’s always excitement to be found.
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The Kentucky Derby kicks off horse racing’s Triple Crown races on the first Saturday in May. Next up is the Preakness Stakes, run annually at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Track two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. The tight schedule and quick turnaround means that many of the horses that ran in the Derby won’t be ready in time for the Preakness. The ones that do run are usually those in whom trainers have confidence in their stamina to handle that workload. The Kentucky Derby winner usually (but not always) travels on to the Preakness hoping to complete horse racing’s elusive Triple Crown.
There are many similarities between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The distance is similar, although the Preakness is slightly shorter at a mile and 3/16 compared to the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Kentucky Derby. This might not seem like a significant difference but unlike the Derby most horses in the field will have had experience running at this distance. For this reason, stamina isn’t as big of a concern for horsemen and bettors as in the ‘Run for the Roses’. Another big difference is that the Preakness has a slightly smaller field than the 20 horse stampede seen in the Kentucky Derby. This is a relief for the jockey and makes the race a bit easier to handicap.
As with the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness is a major spectator and betting event with just under 100,000 fans showing up every year. In most years, it is the second highest attendance at any North American horse race trailing only the Kentucky Derby. Among the general public, however, it is significantly lower profile than the Kentucky Derby though that is the case with every horse race. The race offers a purse of $1,650,000 and is a Grade 1 stakes race. The most popular type of Preakness bets are the classic ‘straight wagers’ found in every horse race where players attempt to pick the horse that will win, place and show.
Types of Preakness Bets
While ‘straight wagers’ are the most popular type of horse bet it’s hard to deny the appeal of a potentially huge jackpot offered by ‘exotic’ bets.
The most common exotic bets are the exacta (picking the first two finishers in correct order), the trifecta (picking the first three finishers in the correct order) along with the superfecta (top four finishers in correct order). Each additional finish position in these increases not only the payout odds but the difficulty in making a correct selection. Another popular exotic bet at any horse track is the ‘Pick 3’ which requires the player to correctly select the winner of three consecutive races. Variations on this bet are available for 4, 5 and 6 races (Pick 4, Pick 5 and Pick 6).
A more popular market can be found in Triple Crown futures betting at BetOnline.ag Racebook. It’s a considerable challenge—only thirteen horses in history have won all three Triple Crown races—but bettors enjoy taking a decent sized price hoping that the reigning Kentucky Derby winner will be able to complete the task. Taking a page out of the book of the Kentucky Derby, there’s also a popular bet called the ‘Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness Double’ inspired by the Kentucky Derby/Kentucky Oaks double at Churchill Downs. This bet requires selecting the winner of the Black-Eyed Susan and the Preakness with a payout amount based on the odds of each winning horse.
Preakness Betting Strategy Tips
After the huge field and the frenetic pace set in the Kentucky Derby handicapping the Preakness is usually not much different than handicapping any other race.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind including fatigue. Although the trend is away from subjecting three-year-old to a busy prep schedule in advance of the Kentucky Derby not every horse is able to handle the short two-week break. For that reason, it’s not a bad idea to look at the horses known as ‘shooters’ in racing slang. These are high level three-year olds that skipped the Kentucky Derby due to a lack of qualification points. They’re often extremely competitive and in the right situation they benefit greatly from having a longer break from their previous race.
The flip side of this equation is also true—the Kentucky Derby has implemented a rigorous qualification system that all but eliminates marginal competitors that have no business racing against such a strong class of opposition. More often than not, the opposite scenario happens and a deserving horse doesn’t make the field.
That is not the case in the Preakness which means that there are always a few horses that enter the race that would be better served entering a less competitive race. Sometimes horse owners just want to be able to say that they had a horse in the race. For that reason, it’s important to give a horse extra scrutiny if they lack previous races against top flight competition.