It may not get as much publicity as its sister leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby, but the Preakness Stakes is actually the older of the two races — and it’s every bit as prestigious.
Plus, with roughly $100 million wagered on the race every year, it’s also just as lucrative.
The sad fact of the matter is, though, that most of the money bet on this race is lost, as the average punter is playing hunches, riding hot streaks, or simply guessing the winning horse. For sharp bettors, though, the Preakness is one of the biggest business days of the year.
In this guide, we’ll show you what trends you should consider before making a bet on one of the sport’s most prestigious races — and which ones are no more than simple coincidences. We’ll also reveal the best bets for this year’s Preakness, giving you the best shot possible of becoming one of those sharps instead of just another hapless handicapper.
Preakness Stakes Odds and Information
- When: Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 7:01 PM, EST
- Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, MD
- TV: NBC, CNBC, and streaming on Peacock
- Mage (8-5)
- National Treasure (4-1)
- First Mission (5-2)
- Blazing Sevens (6-1)
- Red Route One (10-1)
- Perform (15-1)
- Coffeewithchris (20-1)
- Chase The Chaos (50-1)
A Brief History of the Preakness Stakes
Like all great ideas throughout history, the Preakness Stakes began as a publicity stunt for a gamble-happy politician.
While at a dinner party in Sarasota, Florida, Maryland governor Oden Bowie boasted to his companions that his home state would soon have a world-class racetrack, with sky-high stakes to match.
Unlike most bold promises made by politicians, though, this one actually came to fruition. In 1870, Governor Bowie opened a racetrack at Pimlico and hosted a race with a $15,000 prize — nearly half a million dollars in today’s money.
The winner of that inaugural race was a colt named Preakness, and thus one of the most storied traditions in racing was born.
Eventually, the Preakness would cement itself as one-third of racing’s Triple Crown, joining the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. As such, it’s been host to some of the biggest equine stars in the world, from War Admiral to American Pharoah.
The race is soaked in tradition — and contradiction. The winner gets a symbolic wreath of yellow flowers, which is why the contest is sometimes called “the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” (even though the wreath doesn’t actually contain any black-eyed Susans).
The track is sometimes called “Old Hilltop” — even though there hasn’t been a hill there since 1838.
Its trophy, the Woodlawn Vase, is considered the most valuable in sports. Handcrafted by Tiffany & Co., it’s worth an estimated $4 million — and no, the winner doesn’t get to keep it.
Until 1953, the winner was allowed to take it home for a year, but apparently horse trainers are less trustworthy than hockey players, so the vase is kept at the Baltimore Museum of Art 364 days a year.
Some of the most celebrated races in history have been staged here, including Count Fleet’s dominant eight-length win in 1943 and Secretariat’s unbelievable last-to-first transition 30 years later.
Much of the race’s appeal lies in its importance to the Triple Crown. If the Derby winner prevails here, the anticipation for June’s Belmont Stakes will quickly reach a fever pitch. However, if any other horse crosses the finish line first, interest in the subsequent race — and horse racing in general for many Americans — could dissipate quickly.
Does Mage, this year’s Derby winner, have what it takes to be the 14th Triple Crown winner? Or will his longshot victory at Churchill Downs be a mere footnote in racing history?
We’re about to find out — and we can’t wait.
Odds and Best Bets for the 2023 Preakness Stakes
It’s no surprise that Mage is expected to win here, given his status as the Derby champ, but he’s anything but an overwhelming favorite.
There are three other horses with good odds in this race, but if Mage’s triumph at Churchill Downs taught us anything, it’s that wild things can — and often do — happen in horse racing.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at this year’s Preakness class.
Post 1: National Treasure (4-1)
Jockey: John Velazquez
National Treasure has seen his odds close dramatically in recent weeks, but much of that has to do with everything but the horse. As famed trainer Bob Baffert’s only entry, National Treasure was bound to draw attention here.
Not only that, but Velazquez may well be the best jockey never to win at Pimlico. A win here would be quite the capper to his career, but it’s hard to take a horse at 4-1 when it seems like people are betting on everything but the horse.
Expert Pick: Fade
Post 2: Chase the Chaos (50-1)
Jockey: Sheldon Russell
Situated between the two favorites, Chase The Chaos boasts the longest odds (by far) in the race. Unlike Mage, this is a well-run horse, and we have a good idea of what to expect from this entrant.
Chase The Chaos has three career wins and has made the podium in six out of eight races, with the only exceptions being due to stumbling. Unfortunately, those exceptions were in his last two races, so he’s not exactly riding a hot streak.
If you want to take a flier on a horse with the possibility for a huge payout, then feel free to make a small wager here. Don’t expect to ever see that money again, though.
Expert Pick: Fade
Post 3: Mage (8-5)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Despite being the only horse to run in both the Derby and the Preakness this year, Mage isn’t a very experienced horse. This will be only his 5th start, so he’ll be fresh — but untested — heading into this race.
Mage’s preferred style is to get out ahead and take on another colt one-on-one, which is exactly how the Derby ended. However, with the Preakness looking like at least a four-horse race, Mage could find himself contending with a pack of competitors at the end of this one.
All in all, it’s hard to justify betting on any horse — even a Derby winner — with odds this low and a track record this sparse.
Expert Pick: Fade
Post 4: Coffeewithchris (20-1)
Jockey: Jaime Rodriguez
If you want longish odds and a decent possibility of a payout, then this is your horse. Coffeewithchris is a fast starter who has only gotten stronger as his racing career has progressed.
One issue: getting out to a big lead could set up the kind of speed duel that Mage excels in, so Coffeewithchris will need to be able to grab that lead and ruthlessly hold onto it for a chance here.
No matter what happens, participating in the Preakness constitutes a Hollywood ending for a horse that was bought for $2,000 five years ago.
Expert Pick: Buy
Post 5: Red Route One (10-1)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
If the Preakness were judged by pedigree, Red Route One might be the odds-on favorite. With a lineage that includes esteemed horses like Gun Runner and Tapit, this colt has championship blood running through its veins.
At 10-1, it also has the kind of odds that make it interesting in a race as closely matched as this. Red Route One’s modus operandi is the exact opposite of Coffeewithchris’s, as this horse prefers to hang back during the early stages before making a late break.
If both of these horses perform well on Saturday, that could spell doom for Mage, as it could lead to a tight grouping towards the end of the race — a nightmare scenario for the Derby champion.
Expert Pick: Buy
Post 6: Perform (15-1)
Jockey: Feargal Lynch
Although Perform may not have much of a racing profile as of yet, this is a battle-tested horse that has competed — and excelled — against Derby-level competition in recent months.
This is a horse that’s coming into his own, and while there isn’t much in his history (save a victory at Tampa Bay Downs in March) to suggest he’s capable of winning here, he might be worth a few bucks at 15-1.
Expert Pick: Buy
Post 7: Blazing Sevens (6-1)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Of the four-pack of favorites in this year’s Preakness, Blazing Sevens has the longest odds at 6-1. That’s largely due to the fact that this horse has shown an inability to finish in his career, although he’s consistently in the mix at the end of races.
With that in mind, it’s hard to pick this horse to win — but he definitely deserves a place in your exacta or trifecta bets. We expect him to be right in the thick of it at the end here, even if he’s unlikely to cross the finish line first.
Expert Pick: Buy (but only to show or place)
Post 8: First Mission (5-2)
Jockey: Luis Saez
In many ways First Mission is Mage’s doppelganger, as he has the same basic racing profile the Derby winner did before taking first at Churchill Downs. With only three career starts, there’s not a lot of data to judge First Mission on — but since those starts brought two wins and a place, the data we do have is quite favorable.
First Mission is another horse that’s likely to take an early lead if he’s successful, although he’ll have to overcome poor post position to win here. It wouldn’t surprise us at all to see Saez wearing the wreath at the end of the race, but we’d prefer better than 5-2 odds here.
Expert Pick: Fade
Editor’s note: First Mission was scratched from the race Friday morning due to a potential ankle issue.
An Expert’s Guide to Betting on the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course
When thinking about the Preakness, most people’s analysis begins and ends with a single question: can the Derby winner go on to take the Triple Crown?
While this is undoubtedly an interesting question, it’s far from the only one confronting Preakness handicappers — and the fact of the matter is, a careful analysis of the data shows that there are several trends and strategies you should know if you want to be standing with the sharp money at race’s end.
Don’t Take the First Line You’re Offered
The Preakness is a notoriously unpredictable race, which means that better odds are usually much more valuable than hot tips. Even the sharpest handicappers have trouble calling this one, so it’s better to pad your position every chance you get.
That means shopping around for the best lines before you place a wager. The odds on the Preakness can change quickly, especially in the last few hours before the race, so being able to jump on a favorable line can spell the difference between victory and defeat.
That’s why it’s so important to open and maintain accounts at multiple online horse betting sites. If you can lock in the best odds — both before and during the race — you can beat the bookies at their own game.
Favor Early Starters
Horses that start strong tend to do well at Pimlico, with four out of the last fifteen winners going wire-to-wire. An overwhelming nine of the other horses were within four lengths of the leader after the first half mile, setting them up for strong finishes.
Slow starters, on the other hand, tend to struggle to recover from struggling out of the gate. Rombauer in 2012 and Exaggerator in 2016 are the only horses in the last decade-and-a-half to rally to win after being stuck in the back half.
All of this would suggest putting money on a horse that’s fast out of the gate, like Coffeewithchris, while fading slow starters like Red Route One.
We can’t fault that strategy — but while we’ll put a prayer dollar or two on Coffeewithchris, we still think Red Route One’s odds (and general racing profile) justify taking a chance on him bucking the trend here.
Tread Lightly with the Derby Winner
Again, part of the Preakness’s allure is the chance to chase history, to join legendary Triple Crown winners like Seattle Slew, Secretariat, and Affirmed. That’s why so much public money inevitably trends toward the Derby champion.
Recent history has shown that betting on the winner at Churchill Downs to repeat at Pimlico is a poor strategy, however.
Four out of the last six Preakness winners skipped the Derby entirely; of the other two, one finished eighth in the Derby (Swiss Skydiver) and the other went on to take the Triple Crown (Justify).
The Derby winner has gone on to victory at Pimlico a mere five out of the last 18 races; had you bet $2 on every one of those Derby winners, you’d have spent $30 to win $20.40.
Unless you have a strong belief in Mage’s ability to join the ranks of Justify and American Pharoah (a prospect we’re bearish on), then you’re better off throwing the Derby results out the window when making your picks here.
Related: Grand National Betting
Don’t Sleep on Dark Horses
If you look at the Preakness’s overall history, then taking short odds is a smart strategy — only four winners out of 147 races started off higher than 15-1.
Dig more deeply into recent results, though, and you’ll start to see mid-priced racers making a name for themselves. Over the past 17 years, horses with double-digit odds have won more races (six) than have favorites (who took the wreath a mere five times).
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should bet the farm on Chase The Chaos at 50-1. However, you should take a long look at horses in the lower double-digits, as recent winners have included Rombauer (11-1), Swiss Skydiver (11-1), and Cloud Computing (13-1).
Which horses fit that description? This year, it’s Red Route One and Perform.
Don’t Put Too Much Stock in Post Position
Winners at Pimlico have started all over the field, with a relatively equal distribution over the first eight positions (given that the average race size is 10 horses over the last decade, the relatively poor performance of posts 9 and 10 is likely due to unequal representation).
Post 6 has the most winners overall, with 17, but you’ll find double-digit winners at every other position below Post 9. Recent history favors horses that start inside as well, with 9 of the past 11 winners coming from Posts 1-6.
Are we saying not to take post position into account at all? No, of course not — but it shouldn’t be a huge part of your betting strategy. Save that for Churchill Downs.
Most horse racing betting sites offer some sort of welcome bonus to new players, and that bonus can range from deposit matches to free bets.
If you haven’t already opened accounts at multiple online bookies, now is the time. Not only will it allow you to line shop, which is potentially the biggest factor in betting success, but opening new accounts will give you access to a ton of bonus funds.
You can then use that money to vary your wagers on the Preakness. For example, you might have a sneaking suspicion (like we do) that Coffeewithchris is undervalued at 20-1 — but not enough to risk your own hard-earned money on it.
Why not take a freeroll with bonus funds then? You can set yourself up for a potentially sizable payday with minimal risk — and you can do that at multiple sportsbooks.
Best Sportsbooks for Betting on the Preakness Stakes
While it’s typically more well-known as an online casino and sportsbook, BetOnline has made quite the name for itself as a racebook in recent years. It’s an especially good place to get great prices on Triple Crown races, and should be the first place you look when line shopping.
New users can get a free $25 horse racing bet here; the way it works is, you sign up and make your first wager, and if you lose, BetOnline will give you $25 in free play for a single bet (subject to 6x rollover). Simply email the site with your account and ticket number within 48 hours of your first bet.
Not only that, but they also offer a 9% rebate on exotic bets every day and a 4% rebate on Win, Place, Show wagers. There are no earnings restrictions on this rebate offer, although bets that pay $2.20 or less for $2.00 are not eligible.
One of the biggest names in sports betting, Bovada has been elbowing its way into the racing world as well. It’s an especially good place for sharps and high rollers, as they’re known for being generous with their betting limits.
They’re equally generous with their deposit bonuses. New users can get a 50% match on their first $250 using fiat currency, or a 75% match bonus up to $750 using crypto currency. Both offers are subject to a 5x rollover at their racebook.
Bettors come out of the woodwork for Triple Crown events. If you’re a horse-betting junkie who needs action every day of the week, though, you’ll find it at MyStake. The site offers a ton of lines on races around the world, with a special emphasis on the Latin American market.
Unfortunately, MyStake doesn’t offer any racing-specific deposit bonuses, but with hundreds of races every day, you can find enough favorable odds here to more than make up for it.
If you’re coming from the off-track betting world, you’ll fit right in at MyBookie, as the site’s interface resembles an old-school racing sheet. They also offer a ton of betting markets and some of the earliest lines in the business.
The site also offers an 8% rebate on qualified wagers. There is no rollover requirement for this rebate, and the funds will be automatically credited to your account the next business day.
Known as the world’s first online sportsbook, Everygame is also a full-fledged racebook. They don’t offer quite as many races as you’ll find at some of the other sites on this list, but they make up for it by frequently having juicy odds.
While Everygame has a number of generous sports and casino bonuses available, bets made at the racebook don’t count towards the rollover requirements.
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Preakness Stakes Betting Guide
Who is the Favorite to Win the Preakness?
Kentucky Derby winner Mage is the favorite going into the Preakness, starting off at 8-5 odds. Other favorites include National Treasure at 4-1 and Blazing Sevens at 6-1; also, it should be noted that the horse with the second-shortest odds, First Mission, was a late scratch.
Who Won the Preakness in 2022?
The Preakness winner in 2022 was Early Voting, a colt ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Chad Brown. Despite not running at the Kentucky Derby, Early Voting hung with the pack in the middle of the track for most of the race, before shifting to the rail and holding off second-place finisher Epicenter by 1 ¼ lengths.
Who Holds the Record for Fastest Time at the Preakness?
The record for fastest time at the Preakness is held by legendary racehorse Secretariat, who finished the course in a blazing 1 minute and 53 seconds flat in 1973. As impressive as that victory is, it’s only a hair faster than the horse in second place, as Swiss Skydiver completed the race in 1:53:28 in 2020.
Who is the Biggest Longshot to Ever Win the Preakness?
The biggest longshot to win at Pimlico is Master Derby, who was 23-1 before winning here in 1975. While that’s impressive, it pales in comparison to longshot winners at the Kentucky Derby betting, whose ranks include Donerail, who won at 91-1 odds in 1913, and Rich Strike, who was 80-1 before winning in 2022.
Who Do You Think Will Win at Pimlico?
The Preakness Stakes is more than just the second leg of the Triple Crown — it’s an exciting and prestigious race in its own right, and one that’s seen some of the most incredible equestrian action in racing history.
This year’s entries include Kentucky Derby winner Mage and several unproven but promising horses, including our favorite, Red Route One. There’s no clear-cut favorite, though, and just about any of this year’s competitors could win.
Regardless of who you think will win, we’d encourage you to explore the lines at BetOnline, our favorite internet racebook. Not only will you find great odds there, but they’re very friendly to first-time bettors in terms of bonuses and promotions.
Will Mage keep his Triple Crown hopes alive, or will those dreams be dashed by one of his upstart competitors?
We’ll find out on Saturday — and you can bet we’ll be among the millions of people worldwide with money riding on the outcome.
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