Unlike the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes offers low minimums for exotic bets like trifectas and superfectas. A trifecta ticket, picking the first three finishers in order, can be made for as low as 50 cents, while a Preakness superfecta ticket — picking the first four finishers in order — can be put together for just 10 cents. That allows for more horses to be included as part of exotic wagers in hopes of scoring a big payout. And lately, there have been some monster payouts.
Last year, when Swiss Skydiver held off Authentic, the trifecta paid $602.85 for a 50-cent ticket and the 10-cent super paid $505.30. In 2019, when War of Will topped Everfast and Owendale, those exotics paid $2,349.90 and $5,192.40, respectively. Even an odds-on favorite like Justify winning in 2018 had a decent return for the 50-cent trifecta at $74.15, about double what the 10-cent super paid that year ($37.25).
To determine which horses to use in our exotics bets for Saturday’s race in Baltimore, we first must estimate and examine the projected pace of the race. That requires classifying the field into four broad running styles, with the horses listed in order of how close to the front they project to be at the half-mile marker:
- Front-runners: horses whose best performances are run on the lead.
- Stalkers: horses content to sit two to three lengths off the pace before making a move for the front.
- Pressers: horses that like to run in the middle of the pack before contesting the race.
- Closers: horses that are usually found behind the first and second flight of horses, conserving their energy for a late kick entering the stretch.
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Right away we can see that Concert Tour is the only stalker in this race, making him a key part of our wagering strategy. From 2013 to 2019, there were 27 horses run in the Preakness that were classified as stalkers, and more than half (15) hit the board. Four of those 15 stalkers won outright and four others came in second. Concert Tour is also the only horse in the race besides Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit that has two graded stakes wins on his resume, a huge class advantage in a Triple Crown event.
The pace scenario also doesn’t project to be very swift, which should benefit the first flight of horses and any of those that can stay with the pack without falling too far behind. Of the two front-runners, Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon, I am leaning toward the latter. He was slightly faster than Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby after you adjust for distance traveled, and his pedigree suggests more inherited speed, which could help him at a shorter distance. At 9-5 on the morning line, I am fading the favorite Medina Spirit for the win and place spots.
Horses I project to join Concert Tour and Midnight Bourbon in the trifecta and superfecta include Ram, Crowded Trade, Rombauer and Keepmeinmind.
Ram was put up for claim as a maiden in April for $50,000, but horses on the rail have won more than a third of the dirt routes run at Pimlico since the meet began in April, so he deserves some consideration for the third- and fourth-place spots. Crowded Trade’s flop in the Wood Memorial Stakes is a concern, but he closed well despite being seven-wide in the upper stretch, passing five horses for a third-place finish.
Rombauer is a speedy closer with an experienced jockey in Flavien Prat, who has hit the board more than half the time this year on horses with similar running styles. Keepmeinmind hasn’t been a factor in any of his last three races, all graded stakes, but the closing kick the horse displayed during the last quarter-mile in the Kentucky Derby was the fastest of any horse in the field (24.6 seconds) save Midnight Bourbon.
Trifecta betting strategy
Minimum bet is 50 cents
5, 10 with 1, 5, 10 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10
Use No. 5 Midnight Bourbon and No. 10 Concert Tour for the win spots, with No. 1 Ram, No. 2 Keepmeinmind, No. 3 Medina Spirit, No. 4 Crowded Trade and No. 6 Rombauer hitting the board.
Superfecta betting strategy
Minimum bet is 10 cents
5 with 1, 10 with 1, 4, 6, 10 with ALL
10 with 5 with 1, 4, 6, with ALL
10 with 1 with 5 with ALL
No. 5 Midnight Bourbon is the key horse and this strategy plans the ticket around him hitting the board, with second-choice No. 10 Concert Tour also considered for the win. No. 1 Ram, No. 4 Crowded Trade and No. 6 Rombauer are the additional selections for third place, and because this is a 10-cent ticket we can use all the remaining horses for the fourth and final spot and still keep costs under control.