Your Guide to Watching and Betting the Preakness Stakes

May 16, 2019 - 12:43 pm

The story of the Preakness Stakes this year is the horses that are not running in the second leg of the Triple Crown after the controversial finish of the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.

The official Derby winner, Country House, did not enter the Preakness after coming down with a cough. It’s the first time the Derby champion has not run in the Preakness since 1996. The horse that crossed the finish line first, Maximum Security, also will be absent as his owners pursue a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Kentucky to overturn the Derby decision.

It’s the first time since 1951 that the first four horses to cross the Kentucky Derby finish line are not at Pimlico. This year’s Preakness winner will be considered nothing better than the "best of the rest."

But there’s still money to be made at the betting window. Here we handicap the field and provide a basic guide to horse racing bets:  

144th Preakness Stakes

Where: Pimlico, Baltimore, Md.

When: Saturday, May 18, 6:48 p.m. ET post time 

How to watch: NBC (5-7:15 p.m. ET), NBC Sports Network (2-5 p.m. ET) 

Distance: 1 3/16 miles on dirt

Field: 13 horses, 3-year-olds



1. War of Will (4-1)
(Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione)
Finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and was the horse that appeared to have been impeded when Maximum Security veered from his lane around the final turn.

War of Will (second from left) gets bumped by Maximum Security (third from left) during the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
Getty Images

2. Bourbon War (12-1)
(Mark Hennig/Irad Ortiz Jr.)
A "new shooter," as they like to say about Preakness horses who did not run in the Derby. Finished fourth in the Florida Derby in March in his last race.

3. Warrior’s Charge (12-1)
(Brad Cox/Javier Castellano)
Finished first in an allowance optional claiming race April 12 at Oaklawn last time on the track. This is a huge step up in class.

4. Improbable (5-2)
(Bob Baffert/Mike Smith)
Elevated to fourth in the Kentucky Derby after the Maximum Security disqualification, he’s the best Derby finishing horse in this field, which made him the favorite in the Preakness when the odds opened.

5. Owendale (10-1)
(Brad Cox/Florent Geroux)
Another new shooter. Finished first in the Lexington Stakes on April 13 in his last race.

6. Market King (30-1)
(D. Wayne Lukas/Jon Court)
A long shot for a reason after finishing a miserable 11th in the Blue Grass Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race.

7. Alwaysmining (8-1)
(Kelly Rubley/Daniel Centeno)
This new shooter finished first in his last race, the Federico Tesio on April 20 at Laurel.

8. Signalman (30-1)
(Kenny McPeek/Brian Hernandez Jr.)
Ran with Market King in the Blue Grass Stakes and finished a far better third place.

9. Bodexpress (20-1)
(Gustavo Delgado/John Velazquez)
The last horse entered into the Kentucky Derby after favorite Omaha Beach scratched, Bodexpress hit traffic down the stretch and faded to finish 13th.

10. Everfast (50-1)
(Dale Romans/Joel Rosario)
Don’t let the name fool you. Finished fifth in the Pat Day Mile on the Derby Day undercard at Churchill Downs.

11. Laughing Fox (20-1)
(Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana Jr.)
Won the Oaklawn Invitational on Derby Day.

12. Anothertwistafate (6-1)
(Blaine Wright/Jose Ortiz)
Finished second to Owendale in the Lexington Stakes in his last start.

13. Win Win Win (15-1)
(Michael Trombetta/Julian Pimentel)
Still has two more wins in his name than he does on the track after a ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Horse racing betting guide

The minimum bet for these three types of wagers is $2.

Win bet: If the horse you pick wins the race, you cash in. Simple.

Place bet: In order to cash this ticket, your horse needs to finish in first or second place. Does not pay out as much as a win bet.

Show bet: Pays out if your horse finishes in first, second or third place. Even lower payouts.

To make the most money at the track though, try these “exotic” wagers. $1 is usually the minimum bet for exotics, sometimes cheaper.

Exacta: To win this bet, you have to correctly predict the first and second place horse in the exact order of finish. You can pick more than two horses to increase your chances of hitting the exacta, but that also increases the cost of making the bet.

Exacta box: This allows you to pick the horses you think will finish in the top two, no matter which comes in first and which comes in second.

Trifecta: Requires you to predict the top three horses in order of finish

Superfecta: The top four in order of finish. The $1 superfecta paid out more than $400,000 at the 2005 Kentucky Derby. But consider this a lottery ticket.

Daily Double: You have to pick the winning horse in two consecutive races. If you see Pick 4 or Pick 5 or something similar, that means you have to pick the winning horse in that many consecutive races.

One last thing to remember: Unlike most sports gambling, in which your odds are locked when you place a bet, in horse racing, the odds are only finalized when the gate opens and the race begins.

How to bet $25 on the Preakness

We're using the four Kentucky Derby horses -- War of Will (1), Improbable (4), Bodexpress (9) and Win Win Win (13) -- in six different combinations for the exacta, 12 different trifecta combinations and two different superfectas.

$2 Exacta -- 1st place: 1,4 // 2nd place: 1,4,9,13 = $12

$1 Trifecta -- 1st: 1,4 // 2nd: 1,4,9,13, 3rd: 1,4,9,13 = $12

$0.50 Superfecta -- 1st: 4 // 2nd: 1 // 3rd: 9,13 // 4th: 9,13 = $1

By Stephen Andress