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A general view of the entrance at Pimlico Race Course as we look at the Preakness Stakes post positions
A general view of the entrance at Pimlico Race Course ahead of the 147th Running of the Preakness Stakes on May 18, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images via AFP.

With the second leg of U.S. thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown one of the most popular betting events in May, James Bisson is here to take a look at just how important post position is at the Preakness Stakes, along with post position trends that might provide some insight into the best bets for 2024 when perusing the odds at our best horse racing betting sites.

All eyes at the Preakness Stakes are on the winner of the Kentucky Derby two weeks prior. Will the winner move one step closer to the Triple Crown? Or are other Preakness Stakes picks more worthy of your time (and bets)?

Where each horse starts could play a major role in answering that question – and impact the Preakness Stakes odds in the process.

What is post position?

Post position refers to the stall or gate number from which a horse starts a race.

In horse racing, horses are assigned a specific post position before the race begins. The post positions are typically numbered, and each horse is assigned a number that corresponds to a specific stall or gate at the starting point of the track.

The post position determines the starting location of the horse in relation to the rail and other horses. It can have an impact on the horse's race strategy, the distance it needs to travel to reach the first turn, and its chances of securing a favorable position early in the race.

How Preakness Stakes post position is determined

The post positions for the Preakness Stakes are determined through a random drawing process. The drawing usually takes place the Monday afternoon before the race.

During the drawing, a numbered pill or a marble representing each horse's entry is placed in a blind draw machine. The machine is then activated, and the pills or marbles are mixed thoroughly. The race officials or representatives from the participating horses or their connections take turns drawing the pills or marbles from the machine.

As each pill or marble is drawn, the corresponding number is assigned to the horse, determining its post position for the race. The process continues until all the post positions have been assigned to the participating horses.

This random drawing ensures fairness and prevents any bias or manipulation in determining the post positions for the Preakness Stakes.

Post position numbering system

The post position numbering system in horse racing typically follows a sequential order, starting from the inside rail and progressing outward. Here is a general description of the numbering system used for post positions:

  1. Inside Rail: The horse starting from the stall closest to the inner rail is assigned Number 1. This position is often considered advantageous as it offers a shorter distance to the first turn.
  2. Next Inside: The horse starting from the stall adjacent to the inside rail is assigned Number 2.
  3. Progression: The numbering continues in sequential order, with each subsequent horse being assigned the next available number. For example, the third horse from the inside rail would be assigned Number 3, the fourth horse would be assigned Number 4, and so on.

The highest post position number is typically determined by the number of participating horses in the race. For example, with the 2023 Preakness Stakes boasting a meager eight-horse field, entrants were numbered one through eight.

2024 Preakness Stakes post positions

With the 2024 Kentucky Derby post position draw likely to take place the Monday prior to the race, you'll want to check out our lists of the best horse racing betting sites to determine the best places to make your picks as soon as the post position list is set.

Visit this page often to track the Preakness Stakes odds movement between now and race time.

Best post position at the Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes post position draw is a significant event as the starting position can impact a horse's chances of winning. However, the historical data shows that the success rate of horses in the Preakness Stakes does not necessarily follow a clear pattern based on post position (though landing an outside spot has traditionally been bad news).

Here are the number and percentage of Preakness Stakes winners from each post position since 1909, the first year a starting gate was used:

Post PositionWinsWin Rate

Though post position does mean plenty for a horse's prospects, bettors would be wise not to use it as the sole barometer for determining which wagers to make.

Worst post position at the Preakness Stakes

Only the No. 14 post position has failed to produce even a single Preakness Stakes champion, though the No. 13 spot hasn't fared much better with just one victory out of that position.

How to use post position to handicap the Preakness Stakes

Using post position to handicap the Preakness Stakes involves considering the historical performance and characteristics of horses based on their starting positions. Here are some factors to consider when using post position as a handicapping tool:

  1. Distance to First Turn: A horse's post position can affect its proximity to the first turn. Inside post positions (closer to the rail) have a shorter distance to travel to reach the turn, which can be advantageous. Horses in outside post positions may need to cover more ground and navigate wider turns.
  2. Track Bias: Assess the track bias for previous races at the Preakness Stakes. Some tracks tend to favor specific post positions, such as inside or outside. Consider how the track bias may impact a horse's performance from a particular post position.
  3. Running Style: Evaluate a horse's preferred running style (front-runner, closer, or mid-pack) and how it aligns with their post position. Inside positions may be advantageous for front-runners, allowing them to secure an early lead, while outside positions can benefit closers who prefer to make late moves.
  4. Traffic and Positioning: Consider how post position may impact a horse's ability to find clear running room and avoid traffic. Inside positions may be more prone to getting trapped on the rail or boxed in, while outside positions can offer more opportunities for maneuvering and avoiding congestion.
  5. Historical Data: Examine past performances of horses in the Preakness Stakes based on their post positions. Look for trends or patterns that indicate a higher likelihood of success or struggles from specific starting positions.

It's important to note that post position is just one factor among many to consider when handicapping a race. It should be used in conjunction with other relevant information, such as a horse's form, jockey, trainer, class, and recent performances, to make informed betting decisions.

Horse racing betting odds pages

Preakness Stakes post position FAQs

What is the best Preakness Stakes post position?

Historically the No. 6 spot has been the best post position for the Preakness Stakes, producing 16 winners – but none since Oxbow in 2013.

What is the worst Preakness Stakes post position?

The 14 spot is the only post position that has yet to produce a Preakness Stakes champion, while the No. 13 position has featured just one winner (Rachel Alexandra in 2009). And with just eight horses competing Saturday, these numbers won't improve.

How are post positions determined in the Preakness Stakes

Post positions for the Preakness Stakes are determined by a random drawing that takes place the Monday before the race. The draw is conducted in public and attended by trainers, owners, jockeys, and other officials.

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