Known among horseplayers as the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”, the Preakness Stakes is a Grade One thoroughbred race of huge world importance on its own merit but also forms the middle leg of the American Triple Crown series, taking placing this year on Saturday May 18 at Pimlico.
A couple of years younger than it’s preceding Triple Crown event the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness is now in its 144th year and the star draw as always will be whatever horse gets home first at Louisville giving itself a chance to write their name in racing folklore, just as Justify did in 2018 when winning at the Maryland track.
Here, and on our dedicated odds and contenders pages, we’ll have all the information you need to make a well informed pick but also keep an eye out for Preakness Stakes 2019 post times which we’ll have for you in due course.
Preakness betting won’t really reach a crescendo until after we know the result of the Kentucky Derby on May 4 but it is already one of the most hotly anticipated races of the whole year.
With any luck, the Derby 1-2-3 will come and take part along with perhaps a few surprise entries to have skipped Louisville and once the final field and gate positions are known, it’s all about placing that exciting wager but if you’re unsure of what you’re doing, we’ve got you covered.
Sure, the atmosphere will be top notch, but the best way other than being in Baltimore to join in the chorus of “Maryland, My Maryland” is to bet the Preakness Stakes and that’s the real tradition we’re interested in.The three main wager types to choose from are the ‘win’, ‘place’ and ‘show’ bets and here’s an explanation of all three:
WIN – It probably goes without saying that this means your chosen horse must win the race for you to get paid.
PLACE – To be successful here, your horse must finish in the first two.
SHOW – This is a little easier; as long as your horse runs in the first three you win.
Payouts depend on various things including how much the handle is worth overall, divided by the degree of difficulty.So, the highest payouts are usually on win bets as these are the most difficult to get right, the second highest payouts are on place bets and as they are theoretically easier, the lowest payouts are on show bets.
If this is all sounding a little too vanilla and you want to spice up your Preakness Stakes 2019 betting you could try an Exacta bet.With an exacta you choose two horses and they must finish first and second in the correct order which can lead to large payouts.
This is tough to call, but if you like the look of two horses and don’t want to specify the exact result you can box this bet, meaning you pay double the stake but your chosen horses need only finish 1-2 in either order for you to win.
A Trifecta bet follows the same rules, this time though you need to pick three horses and again they must all finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the right order.Again you can box this and pay more, gaining a win as long as your chosen trio come home in the first three in any order.
The Superfecta is for the pros (and those feeling lucky).Again the rules are the same, except there are four horses involved this time so if you get that right you could end up owning one of 2020’s contenders!
Given timing and geography, only the relative few will be at Pimlico to witness this spectacle first hand but we can all feel like we’re taking an active part in the Preakness by wagering.Here at TVG you can see what our experts think of all the contenders and you can bet with us before watching the action unfold.
You don’t have to be a professional handicapper to bet the Preakness Stakes, but you should follow our advice to make sure you’re looking in the right places before wagering.Reading a race program to check out the latest form, reviewing workout times and taking a peak at the breeding can all help but we will nudge in the right direction right here.
Just remember not to get too excited by the projected odds of the outsiders.The unfortunate truth is that most Preakness Stakes winners will be high up in the betting, maybe even favorite just like Justify in 2018, and we’ll have an updated rundown for you of all the latest contenders.
Given that there have only been 13 Triple Crown winners in racing history, it goes without saying that most years by the time we get to New York for the Belmont Stakes we already know the dream is dead.
With the vast majority of Kentucky Derby winners attempting to follow-up in this race however the Preakness almost always keeps the dream alive of us witnessing another Secretariat, Seattle Slew or Affirmed.
This race is a unique test in as much as it comes only two weeks after the Kentucky Derby.By the time these top three-year-olds get to Louisville they’ve been trained to go the full mile-and-a-quarter and yet speed has to be of the essence at Pimlico as the field drops to a mile and an eighth.
The Preakness then has that unique buzz that comes with being the middle leg of a series, everyone watching hoping the Kentucky Derby winner can step down in distance and do it again – unless you’ve bet something else of course!
It should probably go without saying that, as a race first run way back in 1873, the Preakness Stakes has a special place in US horse racing history.
Names take on a real special meaning in horse racing and on that score this race is steeped in tradition.The track itself, Pimlico, takes its name from when English settlers labelled the area after their favorite tavern back in London, Olde Ben Pimlico’s.A superb winning horse at this track in 1870 was called Preakness and this race is named in turn in his honor.
Although there has actually been one less running, 143 versus 144, the Preakness actually pre-dates the Kentucky Derby by two years.
In 1873 the first Preakness Stakes was held with a field of seven horses going to post, all looking to claim the $2,000 prize money.In the end it was a horse named Survivor that won it, easily as it turned out by a huge ten lengths.In fact, that margin of victory remained a record in this race until 2004 when the amazing Smarty Jones took the title by 11½ lengths.
Between 1890 and 1908 the race was run away from Pimlico but returned to its spiritual and rightful home in 1909, with age restrictions occasionally lifted and even being run as a handicap at times, while these days it is settled as an important three-year-olds only stakes race with a Grade 1 title.
Devastating performances by the likes of Affirmed in 1978, Sunday Silence in 1989, American Pharoah in 2015 and just one year ago our 13th Triple Crown hero Justify have been witnessed by the crowds at Pimlico.Check out our live streaming segment below to see some of these great moments play out.
The second leg of the Triple Crown is open only to three-year-olds and while these are of course still young horses, by the time they get to Pimlico we’ll have seen them run all of their Kentucky Derby preps as well as possibly in the big race itself in early May.
That said, the distance is different and some horses just need that extra couple of weeks in spring to mature so often this race suits a different animal.Colts and geldings must carry 126lbs with fillies hauling 121lbs, taking into account their 5lbs sex allowance.Gate positions are allocated in the week leading up to the race when the final field is known.
The first $1million Preakness came back in 1997and its value has held steady over time.By 2014 the race had reached what is its current value of $1.5million, keeping it in line with the Belmont Stakes but as of 2019 it is worth only half the value of the Kentucky Derby.
The only guaranteed spot in the Preakness Stakes is given to the Kentucky Derby winner given that it is the only horse by that stage to be in with a shout of landing the coveted Triple Crown.
There are of course entry costs involved, owners needing to dig deep to find $15,000 to pass the entry box and if their horse makes the cut they face another $15,000 bill to be a starter in the race.These fees, allied with race sponsorship and TV money, are what help to boost the prize money.
Naturally there is a safety limit, in this case 14 starters in the gate, and when the race is oversubscribed it comes down to the committee to cut the field down using grading.The runners can be ranked according to their earnings in graded stakes races or highest career earnings in non-restricted stakes races.
This is why, unlike in Europe where horses are generally given a more gentle prep before peaking big time on the day of a classic, in the States it is hugely important to have horses run in Grade One races for big money as early and as often as is safe, just to make sure they can make the final cut.
We would hate it if all things in this great sport were the same, so while part of the success of the Breeders’ Cup is the fact it moves to a different track almost every year, events like the Preakness Stakes retain their own sense of place with Pimlico always its home.
The track, located in Baltimore, Maryland, has the capability to handle over 120,000 people on race day and much like the Kentucky Derby it retains its traditions too; huge TV audiences are now used to hearing the crowd sing “Maryland, My Maryland” on Preakness day after the horses are called to post.
The traditions keep coming after the race is run too, the winner is always draped in the yellow flowers made to recreate the appearance of the Black-Eyed Susan and as soon as this happens a painter will climb the Old Clubhouse cupola to apply the colors of the winning owner to the horse sitting atop the weather vane.
As well as being high class, a key attribute any Triple Crown contender needs to have is versatility.Despite the biggest difference coming when the runners get to New York for the Belmont over a mile-and-a-half, many are caught out between Churchill Downs and Pimlico due to the subtle but crucial change in race conditions from the mile-and-a-quarter of the Derby to the mile and an eighth here.
With very few trainers specifically targeting this race so early in the year, the main contenders up to this point are basically those being aimed at Kentucky with these few being the ones most people are talking about:
Code of Honor
We have to list this horse as one who beat Hidden Scroll in Florida (see below) with that win, as well as his three-length defeat at Grade 1 level in the Champagne Stakes last year, marking him out as a decent early contender although he needs to improve again.
This is the name on most pros’ lips over the winter given that he is already a triple Grade 1 winner.The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ is as tough as he is classy and may yet appreciate this distance more than the Kentucky Derby’s extra yardage.
Trainer Bill Mott already stated before his shock loss in the Fountain of Youth Stakes that this brilliant debut winner may be more of a Preakness type than a Kentucky Derby type so keep that in mind.Whatever happens, don’t write him off regardless of what does or doesn’t happen in Louisville.
As a son of City Zip this is another Bob Baffert contender who may well appreciate this distance a little more than the longer test at Churchill Downs.
Having smashed up Mucho Gusto in the Los Alamitos Futurity he looks every bit a Grade 1 three-year-old and he must be close to being the number one contender for the Preakness at this early stage.
Jerry Hollendorfer’s colt hasn’t run since romping home to win the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes last summer but all things being well he will reappear in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct which will tell us more about his wellbeing.
War of Will
One of the more experienced contenders having run seven times, War of Will is now a Grade 2 winner and is improving nicely but he has to reach another level between now and May 4, let alone between the Derby and here.
For a more in-depth look at this year’s contenders, check out our dedicated page [link to ‘Preakness Contenders’ page] which we will update as all the major trials come and go heading to the 144th Preakness Stakes.
Thankfully, long gone are the days of needing to be at the track or placing your wager and then waiting for the result to hit one news service or another.Betting the Preakness Stakes and watching it live are now easier than ever.
NBC Sports will once again be carrying live TV coverage of the event and it should be quite a show to see.Leading up to the race we will see all the tradition play out as well as the latest hero being crowned.
Along with the live TV coverage there will be a chance to watch the event via live streaming online.The 144th Preakness can be streamed through NBC Sports Live Extra or by using the NCB Sports Live Extra App for mobile devices and such.
NBC’s online coverage mirrors their live televised coverage, starting around 4 hours before post time in the Preakness.You may simply be asked for your TV provider and a password to access the online coverage.TVG account holders will be able to stream the TVG coverage of Preakness day online via the website.
There have been some great moments in the Preakness over the years as we mentioned above, all beamed live to millions on TV and via now online streaming too.Some of the highlights have been:
Having only made his debut on the track in 2018, Justify defied tradition to storm to a Kentucky Derby success before backing that up here.He showed huge tenacity in the Belmont to become Triple Crown champions after this.
American Pharoah (2015)
The outstanding Triple Crown winner came here and utterly demolished the Preakness field by seven lengths.A modern sporting hero.
I’ll Have Another (2012)
Having already beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Bodemeister two weeks earlier, he went and did it again in the Preakness for Doug O’Neill but was denied the chance of winning the Triple Crown due to injury.
Afleet Alex (2005)
Having almost unseated when bumping into Scrappy T around the turn, Afleet Alex and his rider kept their composure to scorch home and win by five lengths.
Sunday Silence (1989)
Preakness Stakes races don’t get any closer than this!With both Sunday Silence and Easy Goer entering the stretch neck and neck, they remained that way right to the wire and it was only the fact that the latter named horse lifted his head right at the death that gave Sunday Silence the win.
It’s not really this Preakness win alone which makes it special, but more than Affirmed went on to become a great Triple Crown winner.Furthermore, he beat the same horse (Alydar) on all occasions and in fact on seven of their unprecedented ten battles.
Any other year, Alydar may well have been a Triple Crown winner himself.He in fact sired Easy Goer and is a champion in his own right, though is forever in the shadow of the great Affirmed.
These races belong in sporting folklore and it’s a superb piece of sporting and betting evolution that means we can watch like never before.Excuses are removed now and we can get to see in real time these equine champions being crowned.
Our team will be on hand to offer their in-depth analysis and expert picks leading up to post time at Pimlico and remember, you can find out who is in the running to win this historical event by checking out our dedicated contenders page.
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