Handicapping the Preakness Stakes: Winning Tips & Tricks

Are you interested in betting on the 2021 Preakness Stakes? Do you feel uncomfortable about placing your money down knowing that you don’t know enough about this race?

I am going to give you a few tips to stick with when deciding on which horses to bet on in the Preakness Stakes. By following these guidelines, you should give yourself a better chance to win.

Top Handicapper Advice for Picking Preakness Winners

1. Do Not Take on Long Shots to Win

Sure, the opportunity at turning a huge profit while only having to risk a little is tempting. And many times, a long shot goes on to win the Kentucky Derby. However, the Preakness Stakes is a completely different race because it’s a small field, so the best horses usually win.

The highest paying winner ever in the Preakness was Master Derby in 1975 at 23/1. In fact, between 2000 and 2018, there have been only four horses that paid better than 3/1 to win. Bernadini at 13/1 odds (2006), Shackleford 11/1 (2011), Oxbow 15/1 (2013) and Cloud Computing 13/1 (2017). War if Will (6/1, 2019) and Swiss Skydiver (11/1, 2020) were decent priced winners the past two years, however.

In the Preakness, the smart money goes on the best horses in the field because it’s the shortest race of the Triple Crown at 1 3/16 miles, which leaves less time for things to go wrong.

2.  Stay Away From Front-Runners

You need to start looking elsewhere if you are wanting to bet a horse that you think is going to lead wire-to-wire. From 1960 to 2017, there were just five horses that wired the field.

In fact, Oxbow (2013) became the first horse to go wire-to-wire to win the Preakness Stakes since Aloma’s Ruler in 1982. This is a long enough race at 1 3/16 miles that it still favors a good closer over a horse with speed out of the gate.

3.  Only Bet on Horses to Win That Ran in the Kentucky Derby

From 1986 to 2018, there were only four out of 33 horses that went on to win the Preakness Stakes despite not racing in the Kentucky Derby. Also, one of those three was Rachel Alexandra in 2009, and she ran in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby.

Red Bullet (2000), Bernardini (2006) and Cloud Computing (2017)  were the other three. The best argument for why this is the case is the fact that the top owners and trainers in the country want to win the Kentucky Derby more than any other race. Therefore, they enter their best horses in the Run for the Roses.

4.  Don’t Fall for Hometown Horses

Sure, it makes for a good story for a hometown horse to win in Maryland. Each year, there’s usually at least one Maryland-bred horse in the field to carry his hometown colors. However, Maryland is not known as a hotbed of thoroughbred breeding in this day in age. The last Maryland-bred horse to win the Preakness was Deputed Testamony all the way back in 1983.

5.  Pedigree Matters

Figuring out which horses are bred for the 1 3/16-mile track at Pimlico Race Course is key. One huge thing to look for is a son of a former Preakness Stakes winner. Up until 2018, there have been 10 sons of former Preakness winners who have gone on to win themselves. That’s a pretty big number in the grand scheme of things.

Be sure to check out my predictions for this year’s race.

Preakness Betting: Trifectas, Exactas, Superfectas & More

Simple Bets

Win Bet – This is the easiest and the most common of bets. All you do is pick the winner at given odds, and you only win if the horse you pick comes in first.

Place Bet – This bet gives you a little extra insurance, as it allows the horse that you pick to finish the race either 1st or 2nd. Though your chances of winning are improved, the amount you can win drops. If you are torn between two horses, this is usually a good and safe bet to make.

Show Bet – If you want to improve your chances even more of coming away with a winning wager, then the show bet is what you’re looking for. You simply pick a horse and all it has to do is finish in the top 3 and you win. You get paid the same amount whether your horse finishes in 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Exotic Bets

Quinella – To make this bet you have to pick the two horses you think will finish first and second in either order. This is where things get a little harder as you are forced to find two horses instead of one.

Quinella Box – This is a much easier bet as you can pick three or more horses and all that needs to happen for you to win is two of the horses need to finish in the top two.

Exacta – This bet is pretty much the same idea as the quinella, but you are required to pick the two horses that will finish 1st and 2nd in the exact order. It pays better than a quinella because of it.

Exacta Box – Boxing horses together with an exacta means that you just have to have the top two horses in any order. It costs more to box them together, but also gives you a better chance of coming out with a winning wager.

Trifecta – Trifecta is similar to the exacta, except you are required to pick the exact 1-2-3 finish to the race.

Trifecta Box – This is a little easier than the normal trifecta, as you pick three horses to finish in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in any order. Again, it costs more to box them together than a straight trifecta, but it gives you a much better chance to come away a winner.

Superfecta – To win this bet, you really need to have some luck.  You are asked  to pick the exact order of the first four horses to cross the finish line. It’s hard enough to pick one or two horses to finish in order, but picking four is about as tough as it gets. You can also place a superfecta box, but it costs so much more than a straight superfecta.

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