Skip to main content
Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan is bathed following a training session as we look at our free Preakness Stakes picks and predictions
Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan is bathed following a training session ahead of the 149th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images via AFP.

Muth was scratched while ailing with fever after being a morning line favorite, and there are plenty of trends to follow when building tickets for the Preakness Stakes, as we offer our free Preakness Stakes picks and predictions based on the best odds for Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore from our best horse racing betting sites.

While the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs garners significant attention, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore is often regarded as the true backbone of the Triple Crown. Held two weeks after the Derby, the Preakness serves as the pivotal second leg in thoroughbred racing's most coveted and prestigious prize series.

Spanning 1 3/16 miles, it's the shortest of the three legs. Coming on the heels of America's biggest horse race, the Preakness frequently receives less attention and is often an afterthought for many trainers, even those overseeing Derby contenders.

And yet, there’s no cashing in on the Triple Crown odds without equine alchemy - taking the magic that won a Kentucky Derby and transforming it two weeks later to the Preakness. This feat has been accomplished four times since 2012, with Justify being the last to do so en route to the Triple Crown in 2018.

Wagering on the Preakness Stakes odds is often more straightforward than the 20-horse dart throw you find in the Derby. With only eight horses in Preakness 149, certain trends hold up far better than in the Derby. While value can be harder to find due to fewer betting outlets and depressed odds, it does exist in the Preakness.

Here are three horses to keep an eye on for reasons good and bad for our top free Preakness Stakes picks and predictions for 2024 at Pimlico Race Course (odds via our best sports betting sites).

Preakness Stakes odds

Here's a look at the updated Preakness Stakes post position list and odds for the 2024 Preakness Stakes, odds via FanDuel Racing as of Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET:

HorseTrainerPost positionCurrent odds
Mystik DanKenny McPeek5+250
Catching FreedomBrad Cox3+600
ImaginationBob Baffert9+600
Tuscan GoldChad Brown8+800
Just SteelD. Wayne Lukas7+1500
Seize the GreyD. Wayne Lukas6+1500
Uncle HeavyRobert E. Reid Jr.2+2000
MugatuJeff Engler1+2000
$500 No Sweat First Bet

New customers only. $10 deposit min. Get the full amount back in racing credit if you lose after placing a first bet up to $500 (within 72 hours).

Sportsbook Review may receive advertising commissions for visits to a sportsbook or casino betting site. 21+. Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly

Preakness Stakes picks and predictions

Preakness Stakes favorite: Mystik Dan (Post 5/5-2)

Would it surprise us if the Kentucky Derby winner and likely post-time favorite wins the second leg of the Triple Crown? Not hardly, especially if the expected rains hit Baltimore Saturday. Do we think that would make a great story heading to the Belmont at Saratoga in three weeks? Do we ever. Are we jazzed that trainer Kenny McPeek, one of the sport’s true good guys and a necessary salesman for an oft-insular, hostile-to-outsiders sport, finally got his Derby? Absolutely.

Do we think Mystik Dan will win Preakness 149? Barring wet weather, no. No, we don’t.

There are several reasons for our buzzkill. The first is recent Preakness history. War of Will in 2019 was the last Derby ex-pat to win the Preakness. Since then, the last four Preakness winners have bypassed the Derby. A trend that wasn’t friendly to new shooters - only six times this century has a horse taken Derby weekend off and won the Preakness - has flipped the script.

The second? He’s the favorite. Since 2000, 10 favorites have won the Preakness, but the last to do so was Triple Crown-winner Justify in 2018. Over the past 18 years, double-digit long shots have found the Pimlico winner’s circle six times. Favorites? Only five.

The third? Mystik Dan’s photo-finish, nose-hair Derby victory at 18-1 was electric. It also featured the perfect, ground-saving trip - one that defined "rail-hugging" when jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. squeezed Mystik Dan through a hole so small, his boot grazed the rail. How likely is that to happen again and how much did it take out of him?

The fourth? You’re not likely to get those 5-2 odds on a Derby winner when the gates open, making Mystik Dan an underlay when he goes off at 3-2, or worse.

And finally? The last time Mystik Dan came back on two weeks' rest came late in his 2-year-old campaign. It went so poorly - a fifth-place finish in a Churchill Downs allowance - that McPeek spent much of the post-Derby week on the fence about letting Mystik Dan run the Preakness. We’ll read between the lines here.

Not intended for use in MA
Affiliate disclosure:
Sportsbook Review may receive advertising commissions for visits to a sportsbook

Preakness Stakes long shot: Tuscan Gold (Post 8/8-1)

Stop us if you’ve seen this script before. Lightly raced, Chad Brown-conditioned horse bypasses the Kentucky Derby, comes into the Preakness with mild buzz that becomes wild buzz after he wins the Triple Crown’s second jewel. We saw this with Cloud Computing in 2017 and Early Voting in 2022. We nearly saw it with Blazing Sevens last year, who lost to National Treasure by a head.

Now, meet the latest Brown star to that script - Tuscan Gold. The Medaglia D’Oro progeny comes into Preakness 149 with the fewest starts in the field: three. The last one of those was a third by less than two lengths to Catching Freedom in the Louisiana Derby in a race where he was hung out wide for most of the 1 3/16 miles and gamely held off Track Phantom for third. This came on the heels of a 6 1/4-length dissection of a January maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park in his 3-year-old debut.

Aside from the guidance of a four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer in Brown and the fact Tuscan Gold’s stalking running style plays well here from a pace standpoint, he’s going to be a true overlay odds-wise, as money cascades in on Mystik Dan, Catching Freedom and Imagination. When you get to the money line of this script, it’s clear Tuscan Gold is in position to run his way to another gilt-lined ending.

Our pick to win the Preakness Stakes: Imagination (Post 9/6-1)

Say “Hello” to the “Other Bob Baffert,” the one who didn’t scratch with a fever. And as you do, understand you’re greeting the lone front-end speed in this field - a heaven-sent gift to your tickets. Instead of dealing with his stablemate in what could have been a suicidal speed duel if things spiraled out of control, Imagination now possesses a legitimate chance to wire the field due to the lack of legitimate challengers in that all-important opening half-mile.

To illustrate the endless depth of Baffert’s armada of 3-year-olds, Imagination spent much of the winter and spring running in the shadow of the sidelined Nysos and the scratched Muth. This, even though this son of standout sire Into Mischief hasn’t finished outside the exacta in six starts (2-4-0).

Now, understand that of those four runner-up finishes, three came by a neck. That included a neck loss to Stronghold in the Santa Anita Derby as the even-money favorite. Stronghold proved that wasn’t a fluke by finishing a respectable seventh in the Derby.

We expect better than “respectable” here from a pace-presser-turned-likely pace-setter. It doesn’t take any "Imagination" to figure he probably won’t leave the Pimlico gate at 6-1. But it doesn’t take any "Imagination" to understand he’ll leave it at odds higher than he ever has.

Preakness Stakes info

  • When: Saturday, May 18
  • Post time: 6:50 p.m. ET
  • Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Md.
  • How to watch: NBC (coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. ET)

Preakness Stakes betting strategies

What to know for betting the Preakness Stakes

While the Preakness is known for welcoming a host of running styles to the Pimlico winner’s circle, front-runners, pressers and stalkers are the preferred genus of Preakness champions.

How preferred? Thirteen of the last 15 Preakness champions were in the front half of the field after the first half-mile. Burrow further and you find nine of the last 15 winners were in the first three spots at that point. But we’re not done. Five of the last 15 led the race at the half-mile mark.

The principal principle at the Preakness? Speed kills.

The last deep closer to win the Preakness was the mud-loving Exaggerator in 2016. That cruise out of the clouds from 11 lengths back happened due to a fast pace and a sloppy track that made it possible for the lone closer in the last 15 years to prevail.

Find the front-end speed, which is Imagination here. Bet the front-end speed.

That said, when constructing a vertical ticket (exacta, trifecta, superfecta), throw a closer or two on. Your bankroll will thank you. While closers may not duplicate Exaggerator’s burp-in-the-universe feat of eight years ago, they do find the board - and often at eye-watering payouts.

Four years ago, Jesus’ Team finished third behind Swiss Skydiver and Derby winner Authentic - at 40.90-1 - for a trifecta payout of $1,205.70 on a $1 ticket. When War of Will won the 2019 Preakness, Everfast finished second at 29-1, producing a $473.50 exacta payout on a $2 bet. In 2017, when Cloud Computing won, Senior Investment capped a $2,194.60 payout on a $1 trifecta when he finished third at 31-1.

Other board-hitting, long-shot closers included Tenfold (third at 26-1 in 2018) and Tale of Verve (second to American Pharoah in 2015 at 28-1).

You get the idea.

Preakness Stakes trends and stats

  • In Baffert, we bet. As we mentioned before, the Hall of Fame trainer has won the Preakness a record eight times - all since 1997. That includes Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), along with three others who came out of the Kentucky Derby. But it also includes last year’s winner, National Treasure, who missed the Derby due to Baffert’s ban from running on Churchill Downs tracks.
  • Derby Downers. Five of the last seven Preakness winners - including the four this decade - blew off the Kentucky Derby and plunged into the Preakness full-bore. This flips on its ear the previous conventional wisdom that running the first leg of the Triple Crown gives you a hoof up on the second leg. War of Will (2019) was the last Derby alum to win the Preakness. Aside from Mystik Dan, that bodes ill for Catching Freedom (fourth in the Derby) and Just Steel (an awful 17th).
  • Favorite? What favorite? As we mentioned above regarding Mystik Dan, favorites haven’t run to their odds at Pimlico. Since Justify’s 2018 victory en route to the Triple Crown, we’ve seen War of Will (6-1), filly Swiss Skydiver (11-1), Rombauer (11-1), Early Voting (6-1), and National Treasure (3-1) all beat their respective favorites. And along with those above, just since 2011, we’ve had Shackelford (12.60-1 in 2011), Oxbow (15.40-1 in 2013), and Cloud Computing (13.40-1 in 2017) win at double-digit odds.
  • Look outside. While post position isn’t as important in the Preakness as it is in the 20-horse free-for-all of a Kentucky Derby, posts 4-7 have produced the most winners according to TwinSpires. Post 6 (17 winners) leads the field in wins and win percentage (15%). Post 4 and Post 7 have 14 winners apiece, with Post 5 at 13. Seize the Gray will start from Post 6 and Post 4 will stay empty with Muth’s scratch. Just Steel (Post 7) and Mystik Dan (Post 5) fill those favored gates. Conversely, Imagination is fighting a 4-for-78 record of colts starting in Post 9. Meanwhile, Uncle Heavy in Post 2 and Catching Freedom in Post 3 are trying to be only the second colts this century to win from those posts.

How to bet on horse racing

Some other general strategies to consider for your Preakness Stakes picks that apply in general when betting on horse racing include:

  • Understanding the basics: Horse racing offers a variety of betting options, but the most common bet is to pick a horse to win, place, or show. A "win" bet means you're betting on a horse to finish first, a "place" bet means you're betting on a horse to finish first or second, and a "show" bet means you're betting on a horse to finish first, second, or third. Additionally, you can bet on multiple horses in different combinations, such as exactas (picking the first and second-place horses in order) or trifectas (picking the first three horses in order).
  • Handicapping the race: Before placing your bets, it's important to do some research and analyze the horses, jockeys, trainers, track conditions, and past performances. Look at factors such as recent form, speed figures, class level, and how well the horse has performed on similar track surfaces and distances. You can also consider factors like post position, workout times, and any changes in equipment or jockey.
  • Placing your bets: Once you've done your research and identified potential winners, it's time to place your bets. Head to the betting window or use a betting app to place your wagers. Be sure to specify the type of bet you're making (win, place, show, exacta, etc.), the horse's program number, and the amount you want to wager. Double-check your bet slip before confirming to ensure accuracy.

Preakness Stakes picks made Thursday at 8 a.m. ET.

Here are our best horse racing betting sites:

(21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER)
* Bonuses not applicable in Ontario.

Related pages

Best Sportsbooks  |  Best Sports Betting Sites  |  Best Sportsbook Promos (U.S. only)