The Preakness Stakes is the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, run at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland each May.
The race is run just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and is the shortest of the Triple Crown races, contested at 1 3/16 miles. The Kentucky Derby is at 1 1/4 miles while the Belmont Stakes is the longest at 1 1/2 miles.
The first Preakness was run in 1873 with Survivor the winner, drawing away to win by 10 lengths. In 1890 the Preakness was shifted to New York and was run in the Big Apple until it returned to Baltimore in 1909.
The Preakness actually was run before the Kentucky Derby in the last century and in 1917 and 1922 the two races were run on the same day.
R. Wyndham Walden won the race seven times between 1875 and 1888 and has been matched only by Bob Baffert, who has won seven times as well, the most recent with Justify in 2018.
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Preakness Fields Smaller Than Derby
The Preakness draws smaller fields than the Kentucky Derby. In most years the Derby winner and several others will wheel back in two weeks and meet up with new players to the Triple Crown, many of which could not make it into the Derby field or are late bloomers.
The betting favorite has won the Preakness in 14 of the last 36 runnings, with nine of the favorites running second.
Since 1990 nine Derby winners have come back to win the Preakness, and two of those, American Pharoah and Justify went on to sweep the Triple Crown.
Since 2010 only three Preakness winners did not run in the Derby—Cloud Computing (2017), Swiss Skydiver (2020) and Rombauer (2021).
Derby Winners End Up Short Prices
We have seen some of the shortest priced favorites in in recent years. In 2014 California Chrome returned just $3.00. In 2015 American Pharoah paid $3,80 and Justify paid only $2.80 to win in 2018. Note all three were Derby winners.
In the last three years we have seen the favorite beaten. War of Will won the 2019 Preakness paying $14.20. He bounced back off a seventh place finish in the Derby. The runner up was Everfast at 29-1. The gelding was ninth in the Florida Derby and then fifth in the Pat Day Mile (run on Derby Day) in his two previous outings.
In the pandemic year of 2020 when the Preakness was run as the last jewel of the Triple Crown, Swiss Skydiver paid $25.60. She was just the sixth filly to win the race. She ran second in the Kentucky Oaks in her previous start which was run four weeks earlier.
Rombauer won the 2021 edition of the Preakness, paying $25.60. The colt ran third in the Blue Grass at Keeneland and then skipped the Derby before his Preakness victory. Midnight Bourbon, who had run sixth in the Derby completed a $2 exacta that paid $98.60.
While horses that ran in the Derby have a decided edge in the Preakness, it if often the horses that did not win the first jewel of the Triple Crown that end up offering the best betting value.