Though they’re both part of the horse racing Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Derby are two completely different races when it comes to betting.
The different challenges presented by the Preakness and Kentucky Derby, along with the Belmont Stakes in June, would explain why only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown since 1919 — and none since 1978.
Five Preakness Betting Tips
1. Understand the shorter track
The Preakness Stakes track is approximately 1.19 miles long, while the Kentucky Derby is 1.25 miles. That might not sound like a lot, but consider that it means the finish line will come six seconds earlier in the Preakness than the Derby. The shorter distance favours horses who are less experienced and more explosive, and hurts horses who are better known for their endurance.
2. Consider effects of less rest
The Preakness is raced two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, which is less rest than most horses are used to these days.
Before you make your bet on the Preakness, check out the horses’ history to see which ones have done well on short rest in the past. Also consider the trainers’ history, since some are better than others when it comes to quickly preparing horses for a different race.
3. Don’t forget about the fresh faces
Normally, approximately half the field in the Preakness Stakes did not race in the Kentucky Derby. When they’re going up against horses that did race two weeks earlier in the Derby, they would seem to have an advantage.
However, horse owners value the Kentucky Derby much more than the Preakness, so if a horse didn’t race in the Derby, they probably weren’t good enough to make the cut.
If you’re going to bet on a new horse in the Preakness, make sure they’re capable of competing and not just there to round out the field.
4. Smaller field means a smoother race
The Preakness Stakes has a field of 14 horses, nearly one-third less than the Kentucky Derby (20). Not only does this increase each horse’s chances of winning, it also means horses won’t have to overcome as many obstacles on their way to the finish line.
It’s possible to be ‘boxed in’ in the Kentucky Derby, when a horse is unable to pass a group ahead of them, but it’s easier for a horse to come from behind if there are only one or two horses in their way.
A smooth race also favours the best horses, just like 4-on-4 hockey favours the faster skill players.
5. Less value on the favourite
Horse betting is all about value, and it’s going to be hard to catch good value if you’re doing your Preakness betting on the Kentucky Derby winner.
The horse that won the Kentucky Derby will be the diamond of every casual bettor’s eye going into the Preakness, so it’s entirely possible a horse that should pay 20:1 will be bet down to 2:1 by race time.
You should look for lower-profile horses that have a good chance of beating the Kentucky Derby winner (they’ll pay better odds if the Derby winner’s odds go down).
But don’t completely ignore the Kentucky Derby winner, either. The same horse has won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness 9 times since 1997, though that feat has only been accomplished three times since 2004.