Since the year 2000, the Kentucky Derby has produced a winning horse that paid over $10 for a $2 win bet every year but two. In that same time span, the Preakness has produced a $10+ winner just two times, a stark contrast to the race that precedes it by two weeks. Much of the price difference between Derby and Preakness winners can be traced to a couple of different factors. First, the unknown is much greater in the Derby for many of the colts involved; they've never run 10 furlongs or faced as big or as talented a field as they have in the Derby. This can create completely unpredictable results but it also clarifies the talent and class questions for many horses before they get to Pimlico. Second, the Derby field is significantly larger than the Preakness (20 vs. 14 starters), a fact that in and of itself can cause great variation in results due to pace and trip.
While the Preakness tends to not be as chaotic of a race as the Derby, the large field and big pools still create good wagering opportunities. However, unlike the Derby, a player has to be a bit more selective in what pools to get involved with and, more importantly, where to find value. Simply "having it" will not necessarily result it a big payday, like it does on Derby day.
Below is a summary of the pari-mutuel payouts at the Preakness since 2000. (I've split the data into two charts - one for vertical wagers and one or horizontal wagers - for display purposes.)
|Year-Winner||$2 Win||$2 Exacta||$2 Trifecta||$2 Super|
|2010 - Lookin At Lucky||$6.80||$188.60||$2,771.00||$17,126.00|
|2009 - Rachel Alexandra||$5.60||$39.20||$216.20||$2,903.80|
|2008 - Big Brown||$2.40||$36.60||$336.80||$1,192.30|
|2007 - Curlin||$8.80||$23.20||$50.00||$340.30|
|2006 - Bernardini||$27.80||$171.60||$3,912.80||$11,151.20|
|2005 - Afleet Alex||$8.60||$152.60||$872.00||$10,362.30|
|2004 - Smarty Jones||$3.40||$24.60||$177.20||$230.70|
|2003 - Funny Cide||$5.80||$120.60||$684.20||$792.20|
|2002 - War Emblem||$7.60||$327.00||$2,311.00||$6,701.50|
|2001 - Point Given||$6.60||$81.40||$279.00||$171.30|
|2000 - Red Bullet||$14.40||$24.00||$115.80||$2,235.50|
Preakness Horizontal Wagers, 2000-2010
|Year - Winner||$1 Pick 3||$1 Pick 4||$2 Pick 6||$2 DD||$2 P/SDD*|
|2010 - Lookin At Lucky||$821.80||$1,797.40||$28,892.00||$117.20||$89.60|
|2009 - Rachel Alexandra||$47.40||$65.10||$20.00||$16.80|
|2008 - Big Brown||$207.90||$591.10||$7,726.80||$10.40||$20.20|
|2007 - Curlin||$174.60||$220.10||$1,579.00||$42.20||$34.80|
|2006 - Bernardini||$223.10||$810.40||$66.20||$121.00|
|2005 - Afleet Alex||$111.20||$2,440.90||$33.20||$35.80|
|2004 - Smarty Jones||$71.60||$753.20||$15.40||$10.40|
|2003 - Funny Cide||$326.20||$2,493.20||$30.40||$18.80|
|2002 - War Emblem||$66.90||$199.00||$49.20|
|2001 - Point Given||$74.40||$259.10||$33.60|
|2000 - Red Bullet||$2,345.60||$313.60|
*The "P/S DD" is the Preakness/Black-Eyed Susan Daily Double.
I've normailized the data so that they all reflect the same minimum amount across the years. Not all years offered the same wagering base amount.
Some thoughts on the payouts over the last 10+ years:
- The Preakness is a race that, in recent years, has been dominated by short-priced winners. Only Bernardini (2006) and Red Bullet (2000) have paid more than $10 for a $2 win bet, and Bernardini was a big overlay in-part because Barbaro was such a heavy favorite (1/2). Bernardini was the 3rd choice at 13/1.
The betting favorite has won seven of the last eleven Preakness Stakes. The four losing favorites were: Super Saver (2009), Street Sense (2007), Barbaro (2006), and Fusaichi Pegasus (2000).
- If you're going to play the Double, it's probably best to try and hit it multiple times because it's only sporting a $33.60 median since 2000. That's not awful, but taking a stab at it for $2 probably isn't going to bring back a big return.
- The Super, with the exception of a couple of years, has been the place to make some cash at the Preakness. Last year's super sported the biggest payout to $1 since 2000, and seven out of the eleven years it has returned more than a grand.
- The Exacta fluctuates quite a bit from year to year, but still produces an decent $81.40 median. That's no where near the robust number see at the Derby, but if you're catching a short priced winner the majority of the time (as the Preakness has done since 2000), that's not too bad of a number to work with. Like the Daily Double, the Exacta is a bet that you're probably going to need to go after multiple times with a thin ticket.
- It's tough to pick between the Pick 3 and the Pick 4 at the Preakness since both have had years where the return is pretty thin. Since the Preakness tends to come back with a pretty short-priced horse, you're not going to have the luxury of going deep in this leg and getting value back. And, of course, these payouts are heavily dependent on the races that take place before.
- The Pick 6 hasn't been offered at the Preakness very often but it's not a bet that is really worth it, based on past results. Last year's Pick 6 paid decent at $28k, but the other two years saw relatively paltry sums when you consider the investment it normally takes to have a good shot to hit a Pick 6.