Where to Bet on the Preakness Stakes in 2019
The Preakness is more than a week away, but hopefully by this point we have gotten past all the drama and distraction and we are at the point where we can again focus on the horses that are actually running. There was a lot of change early on, but it feels like we now have a pretty good idea of what the 10- or 11-horse field will look like - and despite lacking the big names that we would hope for, and lacking the Derby winner for the first time since 1996, it is still a solid and interesting field. And it's a race that should be very bettable. But where to bet on the Preakness? If you have that question, we have plenty of options for you, and surely one will give you what you want. And after the ridiculously low prices that Justify paid last year, it will be nice to have a better chance at turning a nice profit here if we can figure out what is going to happen.
Online sportsbooks: We'll start with the spot that is probably most familiar to most of you if you are reading things on this site. Sportsbooks don't just have to be for traditional sports. Most books, including our top sportsbooks, offer Preakness betting. They often offer futures well before the races, and they are getting more creative with their prop bet offerings every year. The big advantage of betting at sportsbooks is that you get a fixed price. When you bet at the track, you are making a pari mutuel bet, which means that you get the final odds at post time - regardless of what the odds were when you placed the bet. You don't have to have bet too many times to have experienced the frustration of having the odds plummet after you make a bet, robbing you of all value. At sportsbooks, though, you lock in the price when you make a bet. But you typically can't bet exotics or multi-horse bets at the sportsbooks, which is a limitation. A lot of sportsbooks also have racebooks, though, so you can make more traditional bets while using your standard betting account.
Racebooks: These are different from sportsbooks, but still available online - and legal in much of the United States. Churchill Downs and the Daily Racing Form both have their own online sites, and there are other options, too. The advantage here - depending upon your perspective - is that you are betting right into the host track's betting pool, so you are getting the same odds as you would at the track, and you can make all of the same bets. It's like going to the track without leaving your couch. This is a competitive realm, so there are plenty of attractive bonuses for new customers. Shopping around a little can make you a winner on the day before you even start.
OTBs: OTB just stands for off-track betting, and this is simply a place that lets you bet exactly like you would at a track, but it isn't at a track. You bet in the same way, get the same betting tickets, get the same payoffs, and you can watch the races on TV, but there is no horse flesh to be seen. In some places OTBs are standalone stores. In other places they are in sports bars or at racetracks that currently aren't racing. And in some states, you will find sportsbooks in casinos. Vegas, baby! Almost without fail, the best part of going to an OTB is the people watching - especially on big race days we see people crawl out of the woodwork who seem to bizarre to be real. Remember, if you can't spot the really odd people, it's because it's you.
Your local track: If you have a track near you, and it is in season, then this is a no brainer. Not only can you watch a full day of live races, but you can also bet on all the races from Pimlico, and all the other stakes races around the country all day. There are few things in the world better than sitting in the sun at a track drinking a beer while convincing yourself that you are just one race away from your big break. Tracks are great places for families, too - I practically grew up at one. Lots of tracks also have promotions and parties on big race days to add to the fun.
Pimlico: If you really want to go all in, you have to head to Baltimore and attend the Preakness. It's not as fancy as what goes on in Kentucky, but it is no less fun - a party is still a party. Besides the full day of racing, the highlight of the Preakness is InfieldFest, a big concert and general drunk-fest that goes on in the infield all day. This year the event features Diplo, Logic, Kygo, Fisher, and others - presumably others with one-word names.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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