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 2018
With the Triple Crown season still a few months away, we’ll be waiting awhile yet to see which of this years’ crop of three-year-old horses will be drawing into the race. Typically the field is much smaller for the Preakness than you see in the cavalry charge that usually takes place in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
Taking a shot at a Triple Crown championship, the field always includes the Kentucky Derby winner, and a handful of the other finishers in that race. One big consideration for trainers as to whether to run in the Preakness following the Derby is whether they believe their horse will gain a benefit from the slightly shorter Preakness distance.
Another thing trainers will consider is the trip their horse had in the Derby, and whether they ran a better race than the final result indicates. A good example of this from last year was the case of Classic Empire. Although he only finished fourth in the Derby, a close look at his race shows that he got slammed out of the gate and shuffled to the back of the pack, had to make his way past more than a dozen horses with mud flying in his face on the sloppy track, was forced to go five-wide on the final turn, and then was partially cut off in the stretch.
Despite all of this, he still managed to keep moving forward, and pass or hold off several other horses in deep stretch. If he could repeat that effort with a clean run in the Preakness, he was a major contender, and he proved this to be the fact, easily putting away Derby winner Always Dreaming by the top of the stretch, only to be caught very late and finish second by a head.