Handicapping the 2023 Preakness Stakes

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Handicapping the 2023 Preakness Stakes

The $1.5 million Grade 1 2023 Preakness Stakes follows the Kentucky Derby as the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Bookies often analyze every aspect of a race to pick the Kentucky Derby winner. The Preakness, in comparison, uses more historical data. The big question is always whether or not the Derby winner can prevail on its way to a Triple Crown.

Key Points

– History can help you handicap the 2023 Preakness Stakes.

– Interestingly, Kentucky Derby winners don’t do well in the Preakness.

The Derby Is Not the Dominant Pre-Race

For many years, horses coming out of the Kentucky Derby two weeks prior ruled the Preakness. But in recent years, this pattern has been broken. 

The Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes saw the exits of Cloud Computing (2017) and Early Voting (2022). The Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes saw the exit of Swiss Skydiver (2020), and the Grade 2 Kentucky Oaks saw the exit of Rombauer (2021).

Simply using the Kentucky Derby to forecast the Preakness is a recipe for disaster. Churchill Downs was skipped by four of the previous six Preakness winners. Although Derby winners deserve respect at Pimlico, recent data indicates that horses that didn’t compete in the Derby have a higher chance of winning the second jewel in the Triple Crown.


Use Caution Picking the 2023 Preakness Stakes Winner

Adding to the aforementioned, it has been perilous in recent years to bet on the winners of the Kentucky Derby in the Preakness. Even though 15 of those Kentucky Derby champions entered the Preakness, only five of the previous 18 runnings of the race were won by Derby winners. 

Betting $2 on all of the Kentucky Derby winners to win at Pimlico would have cost $30 and generated a return of just $20.40

That doesn’t mean you should never wager on a winner of the Kentucky Derby in the Preakness. Notable Derby winners like American Pharoah and Big Brown have dominated the Preakness at low odds. The bottom line is simply to use caution.

Do any of this year’s horses have a shot at the Triple Crown? Here’s a look back at last year’s Triple Crown

More Double-Digit Longshots 

Favorites have fared well in the Preakness throughout its history. Only four winners have ever had odds higher than 15-1. Master Derby’s 23-1 upset victory in 1975 holds the record for the biggest longshot winner. The race has been run 147 times.

Again, this doesn’t mean you never bet on longshots in the Preakness. Since 2006, a pattern of horses with low double-digit odds stealing unexpected victories in the Preakness has been developing. 

In fact, over the past 17 years, horses with odds in the double digits, including Bernardini (12.90-1), Shackleford (12.60-1), Oxbow (15.40-1), Cloud Computing (13.40-1), Swiss Skydiver (11.70-1), and Rombauer (11.80-1), have won more Preakness races than favorites (five wins).

The point here is that in the 2023 Preakness Stakes, don’t hesitate to bet on a longshot. It’s becoming the preferred style of play.

Look for Proven Graded Stakes Winners in the 2023 Preakness Stakes

Preakness victories by horses with no prior experience in graded stakes competition are uncommon. Historically, 23 of the previous 26 Preakness champions had already won in a graded stakes race. Seventeen of them established their merit at the Grade 1 level before winning at Pimlico.

Shackleford (2011), Cloud Computing (2017), and Rombauer (2021) were the only outliers to this graded stakes pattern. Each of those horses did, however, place second in graded stakes races. Using this information, bettors may be able to hedge a bet on a longshot.

Betting the 2023 Preakness Stakes

It was announced that Kentucky Derby victor Mage will run in the Preakness. Mage will be a popular pick because of his prowess on the first Saturday in May. History says the stretch-running colt isn’t untouchable. His running technique isn’t the best for winning the Preakness, and the Kentucky Derby is no longer regarded as the essential lead-up to the second leg of the Triple Crown.

With the tips provided here, a horse like First Mission fits the bill as a potential Preakness winner. The horse has been unstoppable since placing second in his first sprint. First Mission won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, beating Disarm by more than four lengths. Disarm finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Despite having little racing experience, First Mission is one of the nation’s most promising three-year-olds. Although he won’t have double-digit odds, those who bet on him in the Preakness could still profit if he defeats Mage.

Lord Miles will also be mentioned as a horse deserving of admiration. Lord Miles did track a slow pace on his route to a 59.25-1 upset victory in the Wood Memorial Stakes. He has not displayed as much tactical speed as First Mission. 

Still, there is a lot to admire about Lord Miles from a history standpoint. He is a graded stakes winner who did not participate in the Derby. It’s also feasible that he will be given double-digit odds in the betting.

Get your Preakness odds and picks HERE.

Trend to Keep in Mind

Keep pacesetters and fast horses in mind. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to wager on horses with tactical speed. American Pharaoh and Justify, who both won the Triple Crown, were among the four of the previous fifteen Preakness champions to triumph from start to finish. 

In comparison, only two horses in the past 15 years have successfully fought their way from the Preakness field’s back half to the finish line. These horses were Exaggerator (2016) and Rombauer (2021). It’s important to note that the mud-loving Exaggerator set a hot pace over a sluggish, muddy track that he enjoyed.

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