Preakness Stakes Betting
The Preakness Stakes is the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown and is run at Maryland’s historic Pimlico Race Track. It is named for the 1st winner of the Dinner Party Stakes at the track.
For the Derby-winning connections, it means the next pursuit en route to joining the greats like War Admiral, Secretariat, and American Pharoah as a Triple Crown winner. However, the Preakness holds great prestige for all of its runners.
The Preakness is one of a handful of grade 1 stakes races offered for 3-year-olds in the United States all year. Winning a Grade 1 race is a critical factor for horses looking to make a name for themselves in the breeding shed when their time on the track is finished.
2021 Preakness Stakes Event Details
- When: Saturday, May 15
- Where: Pimlico Race Cours (Baltimore, Maryland)
- When: Approximately 6:45 pm ET
- How to Watch: NBC
How to Bet The Preakness
It used to be that players would need to be at a racetrack or an off-track thoroughbred parlor (OTB) to place wagers on horse racing. Thanks to the proliferation of online wagering, players now have a number of options to bet from the comfort of the own home in states where horse gambling is legal. Here are a few of the online wagering options:
Online Racebooks for the Preakness Stakes
The company that brings you the Kentucky Derby has its own betting platform. This site offers free Brisnet Past Performances to all tracks as long as you wager the price of the product on the track you selected.
It also includes betshare (desktop only) which allows players to divide bets into multiple shares and sell to their friends. This means that players can play much bigger tickets with small amounts of risk. When the bet is successful, Twinspires will divide the payout equally to each player’s account based on the size of their share.
Preakness Promotion: $200 Signup Bonus for new members.
TVG may be familiar to many as it is usually the horse racing network featured in select cable packages. Along with being a television network, TVG runs an online wagering platform as well. Like Twinspires they have free Equibase Past Performances as long as you wager the cost of your past performances on the track you selected.
Its interface is fairly easy to follow and the mobile version is one of the easiest to navigate. For new players, they make it extremely easy to copy tickets created by their analysts. TVG offers a number of promotions that can help users effectively reduce takeout such as the Money Back Special promotion.
Preakness Promotion: $200 Risk-free wager for new players.
Preakness Stakes Betting Options
The Preakness offers the full complement of horse racing bets. All bets via on-site wagering or from online wagering platforms go into a parimutuel, or player vs. player, pool. This is a stark contrast to the player vs. house model used in sports betting.
Horse racing bets are divided into three categories. First is single horse bets, often referred to as WPS (pronounced “whips”). The bets are placed on a single horse to win, place, or show. These bets have a $2 minimum and can be increased in increments of $1.
- Win: Your horse must finish 1st
- Place: Your horse must finish 1st or 2nd
- Show: Your horse must finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd
It is more difficult to pick the winner than it is to pick a horse that could finish in the top 3. For this reason, the payouts are almost certain to decrease the easier the bets get.
In 2020 a filly named Swiss Skydiver upset Kentucky Derby winner Authentic.
Here were the $2 payouts on Swiss Skydiver:
- Win: $25.40
- Place: $8.40
- Show: $5.80
Across the Board and Ladders
In an effort to make WPS bets more hittable, many players will play a horse “Across the Board”. This means you are putting $2 to win, place, and show on the horse. This costs $6. The advantage is that you can still pay out if your horse comes in third. However, this strategy is best to be used when the horse you like is outside of 10-1.
Another popular strategy is what is called a ladder bet. This is much more useful when betting a horse at shorter odds. In the ladder, a player sizes their win, place, and show bets differently to ensure a small profit if their horse finishes in any position in the top 3. A commonly used $20 ladder is a $3 win, $5 place, and $12 show bet on a single horse.
Another bet category is known as vertical exotics. Undoubtedly these types of bets are the most popular on Preakness day. They are played by regular horseplayers and newcomers alike.
The most appealing part of these wagers is that they can offer much bigger payouts than WPS bets, but they are also extremely difficult to hit because they require you to not only identify who will win, but who will come in 2nd, 3rd, and sometimes 4th.
- Exacta ($1 minimum): You must pick the 1st & 2nd finishers in order
- Trifecta ($0.50 minimum): You must pick the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd finishers in order
- Superfecta ($0.10 minimum): You must pick the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th finishers in order
A popular strategy for new players is to “box” horses. In this situation, you cover all possible combinations of your wager. For example, a $0.50 trifecta on 1/2/3 costs just $0.50. However, if the horses finish 2/1/3 you do not win because you had the 1 and the 2 in the wrong order.
Boxing fixes all of that. In the example above you could purchase a $0.50 trifecta box on 1,2,3. The cost goes up to $3 for the wager as you buy all of the 6 possible finishes that include the 1,2, and 3 as the top 3 horses. In this case, you would pay out on the 2/1/3 finish.
Players can box as many horses as they want, but tickets get expensive quickly. A two-horse exacta box costs just $2 while a 3 horse box costs $6 and a 4 horse box costs $12. Remember you are buying all possible outcomes that include your numbers. Be cautious not to box too many short-priced horses that will lead to payouts less than your investment.
Horizontal wagers require players only to select winners, but to win the bet players must select winners of consecutive races. The disadvantage is that one upset can result in 2,3, or 4 other really good opinions being rendered useless.
One horizontal that is quite popular is the Black-Eyed Susan-Preakness Double which requires a player to pick the Black-Eyed Susan winner on Friday and the Preakness winner on Saturday. This can be a fun wager to stretch your gambling dollar across the two-day event.
Preakness Stakes Picks
Much like the saber-metrics era of baseball, horse racing has a unique and diverse set of statistics featured in the past performances to help players evaluate a horse’s ability. To someone unfamiliar with how to read them, it can be like reading a book in a different language.
Not to worry! Whether you are brand new to the game or an old pro, our partners at Daily Horse Picks offer a number of AI handicapping resources to bring clarity to the horse racing puzzle.
Premium packages are available for as low as $4.99 and offer a wide array of helpful tools including speed and pace analysis, win percentage calculations and expert picks.
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The History of the Preakness
The Preakness was first run was in 1873 and the winner is adorned in Black-Eyed Susans, the state flower of Maryland. It is typically the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown though it was moved in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The race is run at a mile and 1/16 which is half a furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby.
The Preakness has a rich and tumultuous history. It was created before the Kentucky Derby, but took breaks in its running and has even been moved away from Pimlico in the past.
Pre-Triple Crown Era
Before becoming a part of the Triple Crown the Preakness was run as a handicap race several times in which horses of all ages could compete. In a handicap race, extra weight is carried by horses based on age or accomplishment which should in theory equalize the competition.
In recent years the financial situation at Pimlico has led to many rumors of the race being moved again with fellow Maryland track Laurel Park being named as the likely new host. However, the Stronach group who runs both Pimlico and Laurel has worked with local municipalities to bring the necessary upgrades to Pimlico and keep the race there for the foreseeable future.
The 2020 Preakness saw Swiss Skydiver become only the 6th filly to win the race and the first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. The Kenny McPeek filly beat 2020 Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. It was the first time a Bob Baffert horse had won the Derby and failed to win the Preakness.
While many Preakness goers get dressed to the nines, the race is renowned for its party atmosphere. In the mid-2000s Pimlico was forced to cancel its bring your own booze policy as viral videos showed the extremely unsafe conditions of the infield party.
In an effort to keep the good times rolling Pimlico created its more controlled version of the party called InfieldFest which was infamously led by its short-lived mascot “Kegasus”.
Betting News will continue to cover all of the events, runners, and trends leading up to the Preakness and throughout the Triple Crown series. Don’t forget to check back in the days leading up to the race for our exclusive Preakness betting guide.