The 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes is just around the corner. The second leg of the Triple Crown comes just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby.
While not quite as big of an event as the Derby, this is a special event. All eyes will be on Derby winner Justify. Can he follow in the footsteps of American Pharaoh and complete the Triple Crown sweep? In order to that he has to take care of business at Pimlico.
For those of you thinking about placing a Preakness Stakes wager, I’ve put together a full betting guide. I go over your betting options, where you can place your bet and tips for handicapping the race. I also include a full list of the early Preakness odds that have been made available.
For my expert advice on who to take, be sure to check out my Preakness Stakes predictions.
Preakness Stakes Betting 101: Find out Where & How to Bet the Race
Date: Saturday, May 19
Time: Aprox. 6:18 pm EST
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Track: Pimlico Race Course
Distance: 1 3/16 Mile Track
Horses: 3-Year-Old Thoroughbreds
Different Betting Options
Straight Bets – The majority of wagers will be made on which horses will win, place and show. Betting a horse to “win” is pretty straight forward. You are simply selecting which horse will win the race. Wagering on a horse to “place” means you will win your bet if that horse comes in either first or second. Betting a horse to “show” means you will collect if that horse finishes inside the top three.
You can also place an “across the board” wager on a single horse. With this you are making three separate bets on the same horse to win, place and show. If the horse wins, you collect on all three bets. If the horse comes in second, you collect for the place and show payouts. If the horse comes in third, you only collect the show payout.
Exotic Bets – The two most popular exotic wagers are an “exacta” and “trifecta.” The exacta requires you to select the two horses that will come in first and second in the exact order. As you might have guessed, the trifecta requires you to pick the the exact order of the top three horses.
You will see a lot of experts recommend that you “box” your exacta and trifecta wagers. This greatly improves your chances of winning, as you don’t have to worry on the exact order. As long as you have the correct horses, you will win your bet.
My Derby betting guide offers a more in-depth explanation on the different betting options. It also goes into detail on how the odds work. Looking at the history of the Preakness payouts, don’t expect a big payout placing only a $2 win bet. Though there’s usually a solid return on a $2 Exacta and Trifecta if you are lucky enough to cash one of those.
Where to Bet
Your Local Track – Most racetracks allow you to watch and wager via simulcasting. This is a great atmosphere full of avid horse racing fanatics unable to make a lengthy trip to Baltimore. If you can’t make it to Pimlico, getting to a near-by track for the big race is the next best thing.
Las Vegas – While it’s not as big of a draw as the Super Bowl or NCAA Tournament, Vegas is never a bad option for a sporting event. You can be sure there will be plenty of others in Sin City for the race. The best place to watch the race is the MGM Grand. This massive 5,300 square foot gambling mecca offers Vegas’ only sky boxes. The four second-level boxes can fit 8 to 10 guests.
Online Racebooks – For those of you who just want to stay home and watch the race, you too can get in on the action. Most of the top online sportsbooks have a racebook that will allow you to place a bet.
Handicapper Guide to Making Smart Bets on Horses at the Preakness
Focus on Horses Who Ran at Derby – Only four horses have won the Preakness that didn’t race in the Derby since 1983. Don’t try and predict when history will be made. Stick to what you know and focus on the horses that ran at Churchill Downs.
Forget About the Long Shots – The temptation of finding a long shot for a big payout is hard to ignore. However, the Preakness has historically been the time to load up on the favorite. Not only is it ran on a smaller track, the field is typically much smaller than the Derby.
Avoid Falling in Love With Front Runners – Even with the shorter distance of the race, frontrunners are typically bad investments. At least when it comes to winning the race. Oxbow (2013) is the only horse since 1982 to win wire-to-wire.
Don’t Worry as Much About Post Positions – Due to the small fields at the Preakness, don’t overreact to a horses post position. Unlike the Derby, where post position can have a huge impact, it’s not a big factor here. Prior to 2015 only two horses had won in the No. 1 post since 1960. Those that didn’t take American Pharoah because of this, missed out on a easy winner.
Early Vegas Betting Odds for the 2018 Preakness Stakes