The Preakness Stakes Betting Guide with Tips, Odds and Payouts

There is no horse racing event that excites more than the Triple Crown. A competition involving three races, including the Preakness Stakes; the Triple Crown is the absolute gold standard for any jockey, horse, spectator or sports bettor. 

The Preakness Stakes is the shortest of the Triple Crown races, and is the second jewel or leg of the races. Though it has varied throughout the years, the Kentucky Derby is generally first with the Belmont Stakes being the final race in the competition. 

Betting on horse racing is a cultural phenomenon, and Triple Crown races like the Preakness Stakes bring this to its highest level. Preakness betting can be done online, but first the basics and finer nuances of the famous race should be understood. 

When is the Preakness Scheduled?

The Preakness Stakes is the second race in the Triple Crown series, which is the highest award a horse and its jockey can achieve. In order to win this, competitors must win all three races, including the Preakness. 

Despite the scheduling at times being changed, bettors can typically expect the Preakness to be scheduled annually on the third Saturday in May. This time will rarely change, and does so only if running the races in their traditional order becomes impossible. 

Placing Bets on the Preakness Horses 

Each race will have different breeds of horses running, which can determine various betting conditions. Things that determine the type of horses for a race include length of the race, surface of the track and the pedigree of a race.

The highest regarded and biggest races in the world are open only to Thoroughbreds. Therefore, the horses running at Preakness will also be Thoroughbreds, and be no older than three years. 

Preakness horses who are considered to be strong bets depend mainly on performances in past races and the experience of the horse. Since the Preakness is run on a dirt track, then you will need to focus on the horse’s results from dirt track races. 

Looking at the past three or so results including the strength and speed with which they ran will give bettors a good indication of which Preakness horses will have the best odds. 

Past Performances and Stable Conditions

Each horse running at Preakness should be evaluated individually before betting. This should be done first, before looking at the odds favorites and the latest betting trends. 

Performances from previous races on dirt tracks will be able to tell a lot about a horse. 

These can include things like the horse's speed, its confidence in bigger races and its adaptability in different weather conditions. As a general rule, looking at the most recent three or five past races for each horse will give a good indication of what you can expect at the Preakness. 

The Endurance and Speed of a Horse

The Preakness Stakes is the shortest race of the Triple Crown, but that does not necessarily make it a short race. The total length from start to finish is at one and 3/16 miles, while it is longer than a sprint (less than a mile), it's too short to be a marathon (more than 1.5 miles). 

The horses at Preakness will, however, rely more on speed rather than endurance for this race. Especially more so than other Triple Crown races like the Belmont Stakes. 

Since Preakness horses will race on dirt tracks, weather surrounding the day of the race can completely change the style and outcome of the event. Rain can make a dirt track heavier and harder to run on, making speed less of a factor.  

This makes the Preakness weather forecast a necessary thing to check before placing a bet.

Also for this reason, Tomilson scores evaluate horses past performances and speed running on wet surfaces. If the weather conditions are sour, then Tomilson scores become an important factor in determining betting favorites. 

If a Horse Wins the Kentucky Derby, Give it a Second Look

The Preakness Stakes (1873)  is actually the older of the two famous Triple Crown races, with the Belmont Stakes being the oldest starting in 1867. 

Before the Preakness horses burst out of the gates in Maryland, some of them may have also ran at the Kentucky Derby just two weeks prior.  From 1996-2006, there were 20 horses to win the Kentucky Derby race.

Out of those 20 horses, ten of them went on to win the Preakness Stakes just two weeks later. This is counting two horses that did not finish the race due to injuries, so 56% of Kentucky Derby winners also won the Preakness in this time.

The trend continued in 2018, with ‘Justify’ winning both races and then going on to win the Triple Crown at Belmont. While this trend should not discount other factors, it goes without saying that if a horse wins the Kentucky Derby, give it an extra look for the following Preakness. 

Understanding Preakness Betting Types

While the Preakness and other horse races are cultural and historical traditions in the United States, betting on the races is right alongside it. It's estimated that American horse racing generates over $100 billion each year, with Triple Crown races being some of the most popular. 

Betting on the Preakness can be in person at the tracks, which is the most traditional way to do so. Horse racing betting has been legal in multiple states for a long while, and there are online sites that will gladly accept wagers on the race. 

Horse racing bets, however, are drastically different from other sports such as baseball and football. So before getting confused looking at the board, let’s go through the most basic types of Preakness bets you can make this year. 

  • Win - A bet on the horse to win the 

  • Place - Bet on the horse to finish either first or second

  • Show - Beton the horse to finish in the top three 

Betting on “Across the Board” is a bet on all three, but the payouts will be higher. If the horse finishes first, then the player will receive a payout for all three positions. A second-place finish would pay out for second and third place, while a third-place winner would receive third place payout. 

These are not only the simplest Preakness wagers to understand, but also among the highest chances to win. However, there will be more Preakness bets listed on sportsbooks which fall into the exotic category. 

The most famous of these are the Exacta and Trifecta wagers, which are considerably more difficult than the first bets, but with a higher payout. 

To win these wagers, the bettor must correctly select which horses will finish first and second in the correct order (Exacta) and the first, second and third-place finishers in the correct order (Trifecta).

Preakness Odds and Payouts on the Main Bets

There will be odds on each of the Preakness horses set to race. These odds are in the British style of fractional odds, and will be single bets on each of the horses to win. Preakness odds of 6/1 (+600) would be considered average odds for the favorite of the race. 

For some of the less favored horses, odds can reach 50/1 (+5000) on the race’s biggest longshots. These are subject to change anytime before the race.

These types of odds at Preakness will be fixed-odds on bet selections such as which horses will win the race, or the place and show bets. These bets operate on a different system, and have set payouts, which are usually given on the track’s minimum stakes. 

Here are some of the 2020 Preakness payouts for exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets:

Bet Type





First 2 horses (CO)




First 3 horses (CO)




First 4 horses (CO)



*Correct Order (CO)

Payouts for the above bets are not calculated in a normal fixed-odds fashion. These bets run on the pari-mutuel betting system. The system is actually rather easy to understand. We take the total betting handle (amount of money wagered on the bet), and divide the pool up amongst the winning tickets. 

  • Total handle/number of winning bets = Payout 

Therefore, it's not possible to know how much you stand to win from making one of these bets. You can almost always guarantee, however, that the payout will be a lot higher than your original stake. 

If there are fewer winning tickets, than the payout will be higher. The more difficult the bet, the payouts will normally be even higher due to fewer winning tickets. If no one wins the bet, then the original stake is returned to the bettors. 

Finding Preakness Picks and Predictions for Betting

After finding out the horses who will be running at Preakness, and learning more about them; it may be time to find some other opinions about the race. Horse racing experts pump out Preakness predictions every year, which can be helpful for betting. 

Since the Triple Crown races are so popular, the Preakness predictions will usually be in depth,and posted awhile in advance.

There are two types of Preakness predictions that are usually available:

  1. Predictions on which horses will be running in the race

  2. The final predictions on different finishes and favorites in the race

Which Horses will Run at the Preakness Stakes?

The first type of Preakness picks will start coming out awhile before the actual Preakness Stakes race. The horses predicted to participate are decided by looking at current Thoroughbred horses and their performances in smaller races. 

The Preakness has a maximum limit of 14 horses, which is less than the Kentucky Derby. The first seven positions are given to the highest earners in the Derby’s prep races, with the final seven spots being awarded to the highest lifetime earner, in both restricted and non-restricted races.

While the actual Preakness horses racing may differ from the earlier predictions, these are still incredibly helpful for betting. This is mostly because they will give you a set list of which horses to begin paying attention to, giving you ample time to get information on the possible contenders. 

Favorite Preakness Horses and Expert Picks

The second type of predictions are more serious in terms of betting. Once the field has been selected, then experts will begin offering picks and predictions on various types of finishes. The most common prediction here is which horse will win the race. 

Preakness predictions of this variety do not always follow the trends by picking the horses with the most favorable odds. Instead, each expert will have their own beliefs based on their own research and reasoning. 

After doing your own research but before placing your bets, it's a good idea to see what others are predicting for this year’s Preakness. The best Preakness predictions will have detailed assessments which is great for new information, and will also include analyses of multiple horses set to run. 

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