2021 Preakness Stakes Facts
As we approach the second jewel of the American Triple Crown, all eyes and ears are anxiously awaiting news about Medina Spirit and his possible disqualification from his Kentucky Derby win. For those of you who haven’t heard about this situation, it’s rather quite simple to understand. Medina Spirit tested positive for a banned anti-inflammatory after the race. They are awaiting a secondary set of testing to confirm. However, if those tests come back positive, he will be forced to forfeit his Kentucky Derby win and won’t be able to run in the Preakness. As for trainer Bob Baffert, he’s already been suspended from Churchill Downs, and perhaps further suspensions are on the horizon. But that’s a story for another day. I’m here to break down everything you need to know about the Preakness Stakes and what it means to American thoroughbred racing.
The Five W’s: Similar to last year’s Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes had its race date moved from the middle of May to October 3. This year, the Preakness returns to its original time slot, the third Saturday in May, this time May 15, 2021, at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore. Post time for this race is usually around 5:50 p.m. Eastern.
The Who: The Preakness Stakes is the second jewel in the Triple Crown, and it is designed in a way that any three-year-old horse can run in this race. Unlike the Derby, where it’s specifically made for the top three-year-old boys, the Preakness allows both Colts and Fillies to contest this race. Colts and geldings are required to carry 126 lbs, while fillies are required to carry 121lbs. In fact, last year’s Preakness Stakes winner was a filly by the name of Swiss Skydiver. In total, there have been six fillies that have won the Preakness, and perhaps none more famously than Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
How Many Horses Run in the Preakness Stakes? Another drastic difference from the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness is the number of horses that line up in the gate. In the Derby, a full field is 20. In the Preakness, we are usually given 10 horses to choose from, and that is both a blessing and a curse for horseplayers. Smaller fields typically mean smaller payouts on the tote board, but it does also mean fewer horses to handicap and the likelihood of selecting the winner is a bit better.
Preakness Traditions: Nothing goes hand-in-hand quite like horse racing and traditions. Much like the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness is not short on traditions. And perhaps the most famous tradition of the Preakness is the painting of the silks of the winning jockey on the top of the replica of the Old Cupola in the winner’s circle as soon as the race becomes official. Another tradition is the singing of “Maryland, My Maryland” as the horses make their way to the starting gate. And lastly, Preakness weekend gets underway on Friday with the running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, which conveniently serves as the official drink of the Preakness Stakes.
S is Best: Fourteen Preakness winners had names that start with the letter S. These include the very first winner of the Preakness, Survivor, way back in 1873. Triple Crown winners Sir Barton (1919), Secretariat (1973) and Seattle Slew (1997) are all other winners falling under this category. Smarty Jones holds the record for the biggest margin of victory (11 ½ lengths), and Sunday Silence holds the smallest margin of victory (nose).
Who Has the Best Preakness Stakes Time? Unfortunately for me, I am far too young to have seen Secretariat run. However, from everything I’ve heard, seen, and read about on this one-of-a-kind horse, he was something special. In fact, many claim that he is the greatest racehorse of all time, and who am I to dispute that, especially when you realize he still owns the Preakness Stakes record for the fastest time at 1:53 in 1973.
Preakness Stakes Wagering Options: You can bet on this race in pretty much every way you can bet on any other race. The most basic bets are the win, place, and show -- picking the horse that will finish first, first or second, or first, second and third, respectively. The win bet is harder to win than the show bet, so it obviously pays more. You can bet the exacta, which is picking the first- and second-place finishers in the correct order, or the quinella, which is the top two in any order. The trifecta is like the exacta, except you have to pick the top three in any order. The superfecta is the top four. Finally, an option unique to this race is the Black-Eyed Susan-Preakness Stakes double, which allows you to pick the winner of this race and of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the Preakness’ sister race on Friday.
Minimum Superfecta Bet on the Preakness Stakes: There are a million and one ways to bet on the Preakness Stakes. The simplest way to bet on a horse race is the Win/Place/Show option. Beyond that, there are exotics such as exactor, triactor, and superfecta. The superfecta is “a bet in which the person betting forecasts the first four finishers in a specific race in the correct order”.
This means that you will not only be picking the winner of the race but the second, third and fourth-place finishers as well. A superfecta bet is one of the hardest bets to win at the races, but the potential payout is sometimes worth the risk – especially when the race is comprised of several long shot horses and a favorite of 3/1 odds or better.
The cost of a superfecta really depends on how many horses you include. The simplest form of the trifecta is a ticket that looks like this: 1 with 2 with 3 with 4. That means the order of finish has to be 1-2-3-4. That would cost one dollar. The more horses you add, the higher the cost, because the more possible combinations you are covering.
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