The Preakness Stakes is the second jewel of Thoroughbred horse racing’s most sought-after prize – the Triple Crown. Held traditionally two weeks following the Kentucky Derby at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, the Preakness Stakes is a Grade 1 event with a purse of $1.5 million and is run at a mile and three-sixteenths on the dirt main track. Preakness Stakes dates back to 1873 and is named after the colt Preakness.
Preakness won the Dinner Party Stakes on the day that Pimlico Race Course opened its doors in 1870. The race has one of the oldest and richest histories of any race in the United States.
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Preakness Stakes Betting Tips
There are a lot of factors to consider when wagering on the Preakness Stakes. Some of the basic rules for handicapping horse races always apply – factor in how the track is playing that particular day and study the races beforehand. Are horses winning on the lead or are horses able to make up ground and win from off of the pace? It is important to make note of whether there is a bias on that particular day or in the days leading up to the big race.
There is a major misconception about Pimlico Race Course. People think the turns are tighter than those of a typical racetrack which would favor higher speeds. This myth, however, has been debunked as the turns are comparable to any other standard racetrack.
However, the Preakness Stakes is such a unique race in some ways that a horseplayer must also factor in several other key variables. The race is held only two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. For many horses, that kind of quick turnaround time between races is asking a lot and can sometimes be too physically demanding.
However, 23 horses in the history of the Triple Crown have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, so while a fresh horse may be enticing, the Kentucky Derby winner should always be considered a legitimate threat.
Do Not Discount The Fillies
Female horses have beaten males five times in the Preakness Stakes, starting with Flocarline (1903) and continuing with Whimsical (1906), Rhine Maiden (1915), Nellie Morse (1924) and Rachel Alexandra (2009). Rachel Alexandra, the most recent winner, went on to defeat male rivals again in both the Haskell Invitational and Woodward Stakes that year and was named Horse of the Year.
Most Winningest Trainers
History is important to consider in the Preakness Stakes. While trainer R. Wyndham Walden saddled seven winners in the 1800s and has the record for the most wins, there are two contemporary trainers hot on his heels and still actively competing at horse racing’s highest level – Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas, each with six victories.
Baffert has saddled Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002), Lookin at Lucky (2010) and American Pharoah (2015). Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has sent out Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995), Charismatic (1999) and Oxbow (2013).
Jockey Eddie Arcaro has the record for the most victories with six – Whirlaway (1941), Citation (1948), Hill Prince (1950), Bold (1951), Nashua (1955) and Bold Ruler (1957). Of the jockeys still actively riding, Gary Stevens, Victor Espinoza and Kent Desormeaux are the closest to him with three wins each. Veteran Pat Day retired with five victories.
Most Memorable Races
One of the most memorable editions of the Preakness Stakes came in 2005. Afleet Alex, third in the Kentucky Derby behind longshots Giacomo and Closing Argument, launched a bold bid as they turned for home and looked to be on his way to victory.
However, longshot Scrappy T erratically veered outward on the turn, causing Afleet Alex to clip heels and fall to his knees. Jockey Jeremy Rose was fortunate to remain onboard and the gallant bay colt regained his balance and charged to a 4 ¾ length victory. He came back three weeks later to turn in an impressive performance to win the Belmont Stakes, as well.
Preakness Stakes Largest Margin Of Victory
The largest margin of victory was by Smarty Jones in 2004 who romped by 11 ½ lengths and kept his undefeated record intact. The popular colt went into the Belmont Stakes with the Triple Crown on the line and suffered the first defeat of his career and was retired following that race.
The stakes record was set in 1973 by the great Secretariat who stopped the clock in 1:53.00 and went on to sweep the Triple Crown in stunning fashion.
Preakness Stakes 2017
The field has not been set yet for the 142nd edition of the Preakness Stakes which is scheduled to be held on Saturday, May 20th at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland but the race is shaping up to be extremely competitive. Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming will face some familiar rivals as well as some fresh faces who will try to stop his Triple Crown bid in its tracks.
Here is a look at the potential field with some unofficial early odds.
- Always Dreaming (2-1) – The Kentucky Derby winner will have a target on his back. His running style should work in his favor at Pimlico but one has to wonder if he is due to take a step backwards and bounce after four straight big performances.
- Classic Empire (7-2) – This colt still may be one of the most talented in the group and had the worst trip and the worst racing luck in the Kentucky Derby. His mental demons that plagued him in the spring seem to be behind him and he could be the biggest threat to Always Dreaming.
- Lookin at Lee (10-1) – This colt has been extremely consistent and has flown under the radar. He ran very well in the Kentucky Derby but may have benefited from the off pace.
- Royal Mo (15-1) – He got excluded from the Kentucky Derby field but has been training forwardly and appears to be a horse who is improving. He has an advantage over several rivals coming in fresh.
- Gunnevera (15-1) – He did not run badly in the Kentucky Derby and gets a rider change to Mike Smith. Javier Castellano is one of the best in the world but there is no better rider on big days than Smith.
- Hence (15-1) – He struck me as an overrated horse going into the Kentucky Derby and did not do anything to change my opinion in the Run for the Roses.
- Conquest Mo Money (20-1) – Live longshot. Connections did the right thing skipping the Derby and he proved he was a serious racehorse in his last race.
- Cloud Computing (25-1) – He has yet to prove he is a world class competitor and his effort in the Wood Memorial was not exactly flattered by Irish War Cry’s Kentucky Derby performance.
- Multiplier (30-1) – He won the Illinois Derby in only his fourth start and will get a significant class test.
- Senior Investment (30-1) – This horse has been relatively inconsistent but did have a breakthrough stakes win in the Lexington Stakes last time out. A repeat of that makes him competitive in the lower end of the exotics.
The race really shapes up to be between Always Dreaming and Classic Empire as these two have established themselves to be a cut above the rest of the crop so far. I think Always Dreaming will bounce off of the Kentucky Derby and Classic Empire will steal the spotlight.