Betting Tips on How to Pick a Preakness Stakes Winner

preakness stakes

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 4:52 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 16, 2017 4:52 PM UTC

The 2017 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, is Saturday from Pimlico in Baltimore, and bettors need not look past the two top betting choices to pick a winner. Let us explain.

Favorites Dominate

Let's cut to the chase: For horse players, the Preakness Stakes has presented the least amount of value out of the three Triple Crown races historically. Those life-altering payouts that often arise in the Kentucky Derby are rare in the second leg. Why? The field is smaller, competition less, and race demands slightly more manageable.

The primary market factor is short-priced horses dominate the race. Since 1873, the post-time favorite has won over 50 percent of the time (45 percent since 1960), well above the 33 percent norm across all American races. Derby winner Always Dreaming is -135 in Preakness Stakes futures offered at online sportsbook Bookmaker. If one were to put down a $2 win bet on each Preakness favorite, they would have netted a 16 percent return on their investment. A similar strategy in the Derby loses five percent over time. The second betting choice is often the spoiler. Over the last 56 races, 66 percent of Preakness winners are one of the two. Classic Empire, who finished fourth the first Saturday of May, is  listed at +285 odds prior to post position draw.


Lean Kentucky Derby Runners

It's no secret that Kentucky Derby entrants typically dominate over runners coming out of other races in the Preakness. In addition to the Derby winner, who is usually an automatic entry in its attempt to win the elusive Triple Crown, we often see the fastest front-end runners showing something in the Run for the Roses take another stab at the winner in Maryland. Competitive deep closers with stamina as their strength often skip and aim for a rematch at the longer Belmont Stakes. Five Derby shippers comprise the nine-horse probable field: Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, second-place finisher Lookin at Lee (+1215), Gunnevera (+1215) and Hence (+2550).

Non-Derby runners often lack the speed and class in the grand scheme of things. Since 1960, roughly 23 percent even finish in the money. When a newcomer is not coming off a victory, it has failed to hit the board less than 10 percent of the time, skewing the numbers even more. Only two of the four new probables won last time out, and they are the longest prices on the tote: Multipler (+3550) claimed the Illinois Derby (G3), while Senior Investment (+3050) nipped the wire in the Lexington Stakes (G3). Cloud Computing (+1215) and Conquest Mo Money (+1615) make up the rest.


Speed, Form & Distance

Since 1990, every winner has recorded a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 or higher in its career. Always Dreaming and Classic Empire are the only two in the current field to accomplish this. Moreover, each previous winner has done so within one of his last three starts. Classic Empire last hit the century mark four races ago in his BC Juvenile win in November. Always Dreaming marked a 102 figure in his Derby victory.

Having raced within the month and finishing in the money at nine furlongs or longer are key targets handicappers should look for, too. Since 1992, only one winner did not run within 30 days of the race. In addition, only one had not won as a 3-year-old (Timber County, 1995). Also during this time, only two winners did not finish within four lengths of the leader in a mile-and-an-eighth race or greater in their career (Charismatic, 1999 & Bernardini, 2006). Three-year old horses are still developing and failure to hit the board at long distances can show either a lack of stamina or slow maturation compared to their peers.


Winner & Bet

We surmised for the Kentucky Derby that it was essentially a two-horse race between Always Dreaming and Classic Empire. Guess what? We offer the same thoughts here. Classic Empire experienced a horrid trip last time out, bobbling at the start and roughed up to the turn. He battled back to cap off the superfecta and would have been closer with a cleaner trip. It will take extremely bad racing luck for either he or Always Dreaming to lose this race. The competition is just not up to snuff. Look for a 1-2 finish either way with Gunnervera and Lookin at Lee closing strong down the stretch.

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