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2010 Preakness: Wagering Guide

The Kentucky Derby is widely considered one of the best, if not THE best, betting day of the year.  A twenty horse field, the longest distance any of the horses have ever run in their lives, and a mass of 150,000 people creates an atmosphere of the "unexpected".  The Preakness, on the other hand, is a much less hectic affair.  For the horses, trainers, jockeys, and owners, the stakes are no less important.  But for the player, there is certainly a different mindset when trying to make constructing bets for the Preakness as opposed to the Derby.

I've gone through the results charts of the last ten editions of the Preakness and came up with the following chart illustrating the pari-mutual payouts for the various bets offered by Pimlico.


The excel file with all of the data from the last ten years (along with the same data for the Kentucky Derby) can be found in this Triple Crown Payouts file.

Some thoughts and points about the data:

  • When compared to the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness has not been a good betting race over the last ten years.  The median $2 Win payout is a weak $7.10 due to the fact that favorites have won 7 of the last 10 races.  A $2 Win bet on the winning horse has paid more than $10 only twice in ten years.
  • One of the worst bets on Preakness day has been the trifecta, which has produced almost as bad of a return as a $2 Win bet.  Exacta payouts have also been low, but it's easier to have an exacta multiple times if you cold punch it.  That tends to not be the case with the tri.

  • A Pick 6 wager ending with the Preakness has only been offered twice in the last ten years and has failed to attract a significant pool or produce a tasty payout either time.
  • The Pick 3 is a very tricky proposition as four times in the last ten years it's failed to pay more than $75 on for a $1 base bet.  The Pick 4 is a little better, but only in comparison to the Pick 3, as it has paid less than $400 for a $1 base bet four times.
  • Favorites have dominated the Preakness over the last ten years: as I wrote above, seven of the last ten winners have won the race, with two more finishing second (Street Sense and Fusaichi Pegasus).  The only favorite that failed to finish in the top 2 was the ill-fated Barbaro.  As much as it stinks to play the chalk, it's tough to toss the favorite in the Preakness if you want to cash a ticket.
  • The highest payouts for a Win, Tri, and Super bet over the last three years all came in the Barbaro year of 2006 when Bernardini won.  But while Bernardini slipped through the mainstream bettors, those that played the Pick 3 and Pick 4s that day had him pegged pretty good as those two wagers only paid $223.10 and $810.40, respectively.  Even though the winners of the previous races affect the payouts, when an odds-on favorite goes down (especially when it's the Derby winner), you'd generally expect to see something a little bigger out of those pools. 
  • The lowest Exacta and Trifecta payouts were in 2007, the year that Curlin edged out Street Sense.  The lowest Pick 3 and Pick 4 payouts came last year when Rachel Alexandra won.
  • Pimlico introduced a Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Daily Double back in 2003; the bet has paid more than $35 only once, when Bernardini won in 2006.