Preakness Stakes Betting Preview
The Triple Crown dream is alive and well. Horse racing fans were disappointed last year when Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike was kept out of the running for the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in the Crown, but the chase will be on this Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore when reigning Derby champion Mage joins a field of eight top thoroughbreds at the 148th Run for the Black-Eyed Susans. Bodog’s Preakness Stakes betting preview takes a look at whether Mage can become the latest horse to do the unthinkable.
Completing the Triple Crown is one of the most difficult achievements in sports, but it’s happened twice in the past decade (American Pharoah in 2015, then Justify in 2018), and as we go to press, Bodog Sportsbook has Mage priced at +600 to join this exclusive club.
Mage is also the +140 favourite on Bodog’s Preakness Stakes odds board to win Saturday’s big race – but is he the right horse for the job? We’ll get you prepared for this weekend’s festivities with our official 2023 Preakness Stakes betting preview.
Reigning Champion: Early Voting
Despite the absence of Rich Strike, last year’s Preakness was a textbook example of what veteran horseplayers have come to expect at Pimlico. As the shortest of the Triple Crown races (9.5 furlongs, or 1-3/16 miles), the Preakness tends to favour speed; frontrunners and stalkers have won eight of the last 10 races, with just one deep closer (Exaggerator, 2016) wearing the Black-Eyed Susans at the end.
Early Voting was one of those eight speedsters. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz, the Kentucky-bred bay was one of several “shooters” who skipped the Derby to focus on the Preakness Stakes. After posting a 103 Beyer Speed Figure while finishing second at the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, Early Voting was the second Preakness favourite at 7-to-2 on the Morning Line behind Derby runner-up Epicenter at 6-to-5.
As expected, Early Voting pressed the pace right from the start, tucked in behind Armagnac for the first six furlongs before taking the lead; a late charge by Epicenter wasn’t enough, and Early Voting won the 2022 Preakness by 1 1/4 lengths.
That run by Early Voting may have been a masterclass in how to win the Preakness Stakes, but without the Triple Crown on the line, last year’s race doesn’t carry the same gravitas as the most memorable Preakness moments.
You can’t talk horse racing history without mentioning Secretariat. The consensus greatest thoroughbred of all time claimed the Triple Crown in 1973, the 100th anniversary of the first Preakness Stakes; Secretariat dominated the six-horse field and took the Black-Eyed Susans in 1:53, still the Preakness record to this day.
The only problem with Secretariat is how much better he was than everyone else. Horse racing is even better when there’s an epic duel for the lead, like the 1989 Preakness when Sunday Silence held off Easy Goer by a nose to keep the Triple Crown in play. Easy Goer denied the sweep by winning the Belmont Stakes, but that only adds to the legend of what they did at Pimlico.
Speaking of spoilers, arguably the most memorable moment at the Preakness was back in 2005 when Afleet Alex clipped heels with Scrappy T and briefly stumbled to his knees before righting himself and going on to win by 4-3/4 lengths, denying Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo his shot at Triple Crown glory. Instead, it was Afleet Alex who went on to win the Belmont and the 2005 Eclipse Award as top American three-year-old male.
Biggest Odds Winners
Your memories of the Preakness Stakes will naturally be different if you cash in a long-shot winner. The Preakness doesn’t have the same history of outsider champions as the Kentucky Derby; Rich Strike was an 80-to-1 shot just last year, while the most unlikely Preakness winner ever was Master Derby (23-to-1) in 1975.
Coventry (1925, 21-to-1) and Display (1926, 19-to-1) beat the Preakness odds in back-to-back years before the Triple Crown format was set in 1932 – both races were run ahead of the Kentucky Derby. Bee Bee Bee was also a 19-to-1 shot when he upset Derby winner Riva Ridge at the 1972 Preakness. These are the only four horses on record to win the Preakness at longer odds than 15-to-1.
History doesn’t bode well for Coffeewithchris (+2500) and Chase the Chaos (+5000) at this year’s Preakness, but there’s a first time for everything. In the meantime, here are the top three favourites at Bodog Sportsbook for Saturday’s race:
1. Mage (+140)
The surprise Derby winner at 15-1, Mage (trained by Gustavo Delgado) is clearly a talented horse with a skilled jockey in Javier Castellano, but he doesn’t fit the ideal profile for this race after closing from 13 lengths to win at Churchill Downs. The good news is Mage posted a 106 Beyer in that race, his third 100+ figure in four career attempts. He’ll be in post No. 3 for Saturday’s Preakness.
2. First Mission (+250)
The second favourite is a promising Kentucky-bred colt trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Luis Saez. First Mission is coming off a victory at his first career stakes, the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes, where he posted a 106 Beyer after using a classic stalking strategy to overtake Arabian Lion for the half-length win. You’ll find First Mission on the outside rail at No. 8.
3. National Treasure (+450)
Moving to the inside rail at post No. 1, we have another Kentucky-bred colt in National Treasure (Bob Baffert trainer, John Velazquez jockey) who’s coming off a fourth-place finish at the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. The speed might not be there – his top Beyer is a 98 – but National Treasure finished on the podium in his previous three stakes races, and that consistency makes him a tempting target for filling out trifectas and superfectas.
Check the Horse Racing odds page at Bodog Sportsbook for the latest lines and news with our Preakness Stakes betting preview updates as we make our way to Pimlico.