Preakness Stakes Traditions

Pimlico is famous for many Preakness Stakes traditions.

The Black Eyed Susan is also the official drink of the Preakness Stakes. The yellow drink has bourbon, vodka, and orange juice as part of the makeup.

As soon as the race is official, a painter climbs a ladder to the horse and rider weather vane above the Preakness winner’s circle. Within minutes of the race, the winner’s silks decorate the weather vane and stay there all year as a reminder of who won Maryland’s biggest race.

Another entertaining Preakness Stakes tradition is the Alibi Breakfast. All of the owners, trainers and other connections of the runners meet at the track for breakfast on Thursday, where they tell jokes and offer up amusing excuses for losing before the race even happens. Media are honored at the event for their contributions to the sport, and tickets to the event are hard to come by.

The Preakness Stakes has been at 1 3/16 miles since 1925, but before that was run over varying distances from one mile to 1 ½ mile. It was even at 1 ¼ mile once, and 1 1/8 miles from 1911 to 1924.

Preakness Stakes Winners

The Preakness Stakes had one of the most eventful and memorable editions in recent years in 2015 when the skies opened up and the track was hit with a deluge of rain during the post parade. Undeterred by the sloppy racetrack, Kentucky Derby champion American Pharoah rolled to one of the most impressive victories of his career.

He would go on to become the first horse since 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and win the Triple Crown, and later added the Breeders’ Cup Classic to complete racing’s Grand Slam.

preakness stakes odds

The race has been won six times by fillies defeating male rivals, most recently in 2020 when Swiss Skydiver outgamed Kentucky Derby winner Authentic to take home the blanket of Black-Eyed Susans.

Smarty Jones earned the largest margin of victory at 11 1/2 lengths in 2004, with Survivor in 1873 winning by 10 lengths and Funny Cide in 2003 winning by 9 ¾ lengths. The untouchable Secretariat holds the speed record, finishing the race at 1:53:00 in 1973. Swiss Skydiver’s 2020 Preakness was the second-fastest in history; she ran the race in 1:53.28.

Preakness Stakes Fields

In 2016, Nyquist too faced a wet track but he did not excel over it like his predecessor, American Pharoah. Exaggerator romped over the off-track and denied Nyquist a chance at the Triple Crown.

Perhaps the most startling Preakness win of modern times was in 2005 when Afleet Alex, who had missed to Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby, stumbled to his knees at the top of the lane when 13-1 shot Scrappy T unexpectedly ducked out. Afleet Alex under Jeremy Rose recovered and rolled to a 4 ¾ length victory over Scrappy T and Giacomo. He went on to win the Belmont Stakes and later sired numerous stakes winners.

In 2019, War of Will gave trainer Mark Casse his first Triple Crown race win. The Canadian-based trainer has been enshrined in the Canadian Hall of Fame for years but had never won an American Triple Crown race. War of Will got it done over favored Improbable after Maximum Security bumped him hard in the Kentucky Derby, costing him all chance to win. Casse ended up winning the Belmont Stakes three weeks later but not with War of Will, instead stablemate Sir Winston surprised.

The most famous Preakness outside of Secretariat’s was in 1989 when Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence and future Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer hooked up and battled the length of the stretch. They were noses apart all the way to the wire, with Sunday Silence winning. Easy Goer would upset his Triple Crown bid, but Sunday Silence would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Both horses are in the Hall of Fame.

Years later in 2007, Derby winner Street Sense and upstart Curlin would put on a similar show, with Curlin narrowly winning and going on to take the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup.

preakness stakes racebook

Preakness Stakes Winningest Trainers and Jockeys

The winningest Preakness trainer, with eight career wins, is Bob Baffert. Baffert won the Preakness in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2015, 2018, and 2023. His most recent winner is National Treasure, who held off a well-prepared Blazing Sevens and also beat Kentucky Derby winner and favorite Mage. He has also won in the past with unforgettable names like American Pharoah, Justify, and Silver Charm.

The winningest Preakness jockey is Eddie Arcaro, who last won it in 1957. He has six wins, while the most wins in modern times were five by Pat Day, who won with Tank’s Prospect, Summer Squall, Tabasco Cat, Timber Country, and Louis Quatorze. Victor Espinoza has won three since 2002. The winningest owner and breeder both is Calumet Farm with seven, starting in 1941 and most recently with Oxbow in 2013.

Horseplayers all over the world look forward to betting on the Preakness Stakes because it is one of the most important races of the year, and it draws the best three-year-old thoroughbreds in the country.

The Preakness Stakes was run for the first time in 1873 and is the second jewel of the most sought-after prize in all of Thoroughbred racing – the Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes is held every year at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland and is traditionally scheduled two weeks after the Kentucky Derby.

The Preakness Stakes is a Grade 1 race that is contested at a mile and three-sixteenths. As of 2024 the purse has been raised to a cool $2 million, half a million more than in 2023. The race traditionally attracts some of the top three-year-olds in the country and barring injury or incident, the Kentucky Derby winner will generally compete to try to move one step closer to immortality. The challenge of the Preakness Stakes for the Kentucky Derby winner is a combination of the quick two-week turnaround as well as the fact that often times they are facing fresh rivals who sat out the Run for the Roses.

Keep reading to find out the best Preakness Stakes betting tips, and to find your best options for online betting on the Preakness Stakes.

Preakness Stakes Betting Sites

Wondering how to bet the Preakness Stakes online? Finding the right site is the first step!

Horse racing is one of the most enjoyable sports to wager on due to the speed of the event. Within the span of a lightning-quick two minute run, winners are made and champions are born. Choosing between all the different racebooks can seem daunting at first, but it's worth it to make sure you find the best bonuses, rebates and other promotions that help tilt the odds in your favor.

Our expert reviews can let you know which sportsbooks offer the best odds on the Preakness Stakes bets you want to make, and which ones offer the best horse racing bonuses and rebates for your betting style.

Preakness Stakes Winners

The Preakness Stakes had one of the most eventful and memorable editions in recent years in 2015 when the skies opened up and the track was hit with a deluge of rain during the post parade. Undeterred by the sloppy racetrack, Kentucky Derby champion American Pharoah rolled to one of the most impressive victories of his career. He would go on to become the first horse since 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and win the Triple Crown.

The race has been won five times by fillies defeating male rivals, most recently in 2009 by Rachel Alexandra who now holds a spot in horse racing’s Hall of Fame. She was the first filly to win since Nellie Morse in 1924. Smarty Jones earned the largest margin of victory at 11 1/2 lengths in 2004 while the untouchable Secretariat holds the speed record, finishing the race in 1:53:00. Louis Quatorze nearly beat Secretariat's mark in 1996 by finishing with a time of 1:53.40.

In 2016, Nyquist too faced a wet track but he did not excel over it like his predecessor, American Pharoah. Exaggerator romped over the off track and denied Nyquist a chance at the Triple Crown.

2024 Preakness Stakes Probable Starters and Picks

To continue our Preakness Stakes betting guide, let's get to know some of the horses who may race in the 2024 Preakness Stakes. The picture will not become clear until the days after the Kentucky Derby, however, you can start getting to know these runners.

Kentucky Derby Favorites

The winner of the Kentucky Derby typically goes on to the Preakness Stakes. The likely favorites in the Kentucky Derby in 2024 include Florida Derby winner Fierceness, Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone, UAE Derby winner Forever Young, Louisiana Derby winner Catching Freedom, and Santa Anita Derby winner Stronghold. Getting to know these horses, or even diving in to handicap the entire field of the Kentucky Derby, can not only be a great experience on its own but can also help you get ready for the Preakness Stakes.

Straight to the Preakness

Other horses will go straight to the Preakness without running in the Derby. Some will be horses who ran well in prep races but did not amass enough points to go to Churchill Downs, or could not earn points for the Kentucky Derby. The leader on this list is Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Muth, who is trained by Bob Baffert and therefore could not earn points toward the Kentucky Derby. Some sharp handicappers think he is the best three-year-old of all, but due to his trainer being banned at Churchill Downs, he will not make his Triple Crown debut until the Preakness.

Other horses are later bloomers who did not target the Kentucky Derby. These often include horses who won specific Preakness preps. These include Informed Patriot, winner of the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn, and Copper Tax, winner of the Federico Tesio at Laurel Park. Patriot Spirit also gets a $20,000 credit toward his Preakness entry for winning the Illinois Derby, but his connections would have to nominate him late to the Triple Crown. Endlessly also earned a berth to the Preakness in the El Camino Real at Golden Gate Fields, though he is also Kentucky Derby bound after winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway.

Once the picture for the Preakness Stakes becomes clearer, we will have Preakness Stakes betting odds, analysis, and expert selections!


Preakness Stakes Frequently Asked Questions

Many people have questions about how to bet the Preakness Stakes. Here is what you need to know about the race, so you can make the best decisions and have the best chance of cashing the biggest tickets on the race.

What is the history of the Preakness Stakes and how has it evolved over time?

The Preakness Stakes has been run since 1873, and was named after Preakness: a horse who won the Dinner Party Stakes on the day Pimlico Race Course opened in 1870. Survivor won the first ever edition of the Preakness. Though it moved around a little in its early history, moving from Pimlico to Morris Park in 1890 and then being run at Gravesend Race Track from 1894 through 1908, the Preakness returned to Pimlico in 1909 and has been run there ever since

Though it has been a three-year-old race for most of its history, it was open to horses of all ages in 1890 and actually won by a five-year-old! In 1890 and again between 1910 and 1915 the race was run under handicap conditions, though ever since it has been run at set weights, without regard for each runner's race record. The Preakness has been run at distances as short as a mile and as long as 1 1/2 miles, though it has been run at its current 1 3/16 mile distance since 1925.

The best-known winners of the Preakness are the 13 Triple Crown winners. You cannot win the Triple Crown without winning the Preakness, so horses like Sir Barton, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, American Pharoah, and Justify have all won this race. Some of the best Preakness winners who did not win the Triple Crown include Man O' War, Native Dancer, Northern Dancer, Sunday Silence, and Curlin.

How do jockeys and trainers prepare for the Preakness Stakes?

Jockeys and trainers prepare for the Preakness in a similar way that they prepare for the Kentucky Derby, which is no surprise since so many horses come out of the Kentucky Derby or out of Kentucky Derby points prep races. Jockeys prepare by getting to know the horse and their running style, knowing how they respond in previous races, and adapting accordingly. Trainers prepare by building a horse's fitness and stamina to stretch out to the 1 3/16-mile distance of the Preakness, and giving their horses experience in front of large, raucous crowds in other major races on the way to the Triple Crown.

What are some of the most memorable moments in Preakness Stakes history?

Some of the all-time greats like Man O' War, Citation, and Secretariat have won the Preakness. Secretariat did it in the fastest time in Preakness Stakes history, 1:53.0 for the 1 3/16 miles. However, you don't have to look very far into the past to find some of the most exciting editions of the race.

No one can forget the 2005 Preakness Stakes when Afleet Alex, trying to avenge his loss in the Kentucky Derby, clipped heels and almost fell at the head of the stretch. Not only did Afleet Alex stay on his feet, but he flew home to win by 4 3/4 lengths.

Just four years later, Rachel Alexandra followed up a 20 1/4-length romp in the Kentucky Oaks with a try in the Preakness. She battled Big Drama up front through the early stages of the race, opened up through mid-stretch, and held off the late run from Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird to win by a length.

Even more recently, the 2020 Preakness was an all-time great. That day the filly Swiss Skydiver rallied inside of Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, battled him to the finish, and beat him by a neck.

How does the weather impact the Preakness Stakes and the betting strategies used?

The biggest weather factor to consider in the Preakness Stakes is rain. Some horses run well over muddy tracks, though others run poorly. If there is rain in the forecast for Preakness Stakes day, you can often find value by identifying horses who handle a wet track well.

One way you can do this is by looking at a horse's race record. If they have previously run well over tracks rated sloppy or muddy, you can upgrade them in the Preakness if the weather will be wet. On the other hand, if they have run poorly, you can downgrade them. Being able to downgrade a favorite who runs badly in the mud, or upgrading a long shot who loves the mud, can mean big payoffs.

Even if a horse has not run in the mud yet, you can find out whether they are bred for it. Look at their parents' record. Did their sire or dam run well in mud, or have they produced a lot of offspring who have? If that is the case, especially for a mid-priced or long-shot horse, you can get a great price on a horse with an improved chance.

What are some popular betting systems or strategies for the Preakness Stakes?

Some bettors like to do straight win bets, place bets, or show bets on the Preakness Stakes. This is a good Preakness Stakes betting strategy for bettors who like one horse in particular. A win, place, or show bet cashes if a horse finishes first, second, or third; it does not depend on any other horse's performance.

Other bettors like to play single-race exotics like exactas, trifectas, or superfectas in the Preakness. For bettors who think a few specific horses will run well, or bettors who have a strong opinion on a horse who will hit the board but not win, this can be the best way to maximize the payoff on those opinions.

Another strategy for betting on Preakness Stakes is to go after multi-race exotics like the Daily Double, Pick 3, Pick 4, or Pick 5. These can pay off huge, though they are difficult to hit. They are an excellent strategy, however, for bettors who have strong opinions in other races before or after the Preakness on the card.

Can I bet on more than one horse in the Preakness Stakes and how does that affect my potential payouts?

You can bet on more than one horse. Depending on how you bet, though, it can affect your payouts, so take these Preakness Stakes betting tips to heart.

If you play straight bets, you can bet more than one horse to win, place, or show. However, keep in mind that the more horses you bet, the more is lowers the rate of your payoff. For example, if you bet two horses to win, at most one of them will win the race, meaning you are basically getting no more than half your odds if one of them wins, since you put down twice the stake. This might be worth it if you like two large long shots. It almost certainly isn't if you play a favorite.

For exotic wagers, however, you typically do use multiple horses in combinations. Since the payouts are so big on exotic wagers, it is common and smart strategy to cover a couple of horses, unless there is a single horse you have an extremely strong opinion on to win the race.

How are the horses selected to compete in the Preakness Stakes?

Unlike the Kentucky Derby, there is no points system for the Preakness Stakes. Typically the winner of the Kentucky Derby contests the Preakness in order to try and win the Triple Crown, and a handful of other horses who run well in the Derby go on as well.

The rest of the runners include horses who may not have gotten enough Kentucky Derby points to make the field, as well as horses who won races that award automatic Preakness berths. Those include the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, the Federico Tesio at Laurel, and the Bath House Row at Oaklawn.

If more than 14 horses enter the Preakness, horses are allowed into the race based on their stakes earnings, with the horses who do not get in relegated to an also-eligible list in case anyone scratches. They will get an outside post position if they draw in.

What are some of the most important factors to consider when selecting a winning horse for the Preakness Stakes?

When choosing best bets for Preakness Stakes, focus on horses who ran well in their preps leading into the race. Though Kentucky Derby winners or even close-up Kentucky Derby also-rans often win the Preakness, horses coming out of other races can be dangerous as well. Those races include Kentucky Derby points races, as well as other Grade 1 events like the Kentucky Oaks.

Trainer patterns are also important to consider. For example, trainer Chad Brown won the Preakness in 2017 with Cloud Computing: a horse who hit the board in the Wood, bypassed the Derby, and won the Preakness. In 2022 Brown hit the board again in the Wood with Early Voting, bypassed the Derby...and Early Voting won the Preakness, too. Blazing Sevens, a horse who fit that similar profile for Brown, ran a close second in 2023.

There is also an old adage that "pace makes the race", and that is important in the Preakness. Unless almost the entire field consists of speed horses, you want a Preakness horse with some tactical speed. They do not have to be a pacesetter, but unless a pace collapse is likely you do not want to bet a horse who needs to close from far back to win.

What is the average payout for winning bets on the Preakness Stakes?

Massive long shots do not win the Preakness. In fact, the longest shot to ever win the Preakness was Master Derby in 1975, and he paid $48.80. That is a lot of money: but, that also means that in over 100 years of the Preakness no horse at longer than 23-1 odds has won the race.

Even though favorites tend to do better in the Preakness than in other Triple Crown races, price horses have done better in recent years than in years past. In fact, two of the ten longest-shot winners in Preakness history, Oxbow and Cloud Computing, have come during that time.

The point-system Preakness winners have included short prices like California Chrome, American Pharoah, and Justify. However, long shots like Oxbow, Cloud Computing, Rombauer, and Swiss Skydiver have also won in that time. Since the advent of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system in 2013, which has fundamentally changed the composition of the Triple Crown races, the average Preakness win payout has been $15.05 to win.

How can I watch the Preakness Stakes live and what are my options for streaming it online?

You can watch the Preakness Stakes live on NBC. If you prefer to stream online, you have several choices. NBC's streaming affiliate Peacock will also show the Preakness. Some online betting sites also offer live streaming, though not every one does. However, it is very easy to stream the Preakness online from Peacock on one window, and place your bets in another.

Preakness Stakes FAQ