Tips for Betting Pimlico Races During Preakness Week

Gambling
Horses race at Pimlico on the 2017 Preakness Stakes undercard. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

On Saturday, May 15, Pimlico will host the 146th renewal of the Preakness Stakes. A field of top 3-year-olds, headlined by Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Medina Spirit, will square off in the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.

Pimlico is one of the country’s oldest tracks. It was founded in 1870, and named for the Baltimore, Md., neighborhood it resides in. The first stakes race in Pimlico history, the Dinner Party Stakes, was won by a horse named Preakness, who later lent his name to the track’s signature race.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about wagering at Pimlico.

THE DIMENSIONS

Pimlico’s main track is a one-mile dirt oval, with a seven-furlong turf course on the inside. The track is known for its very long stretch run. The stretch measures 1,152 feet from the end of the final turn to the finish line. That’s one of the longest stretch runs in the country, and is longer than the standard stretch at Pimlico’s sister track, Laurel Park, which is an eighth of a mile larger.

WHEN THEY RACE

Pimlico races from Thursday to Sunday each week, with first post at 12:40 p.m. ET. There is no live racing the day after the Preakness, May 16, and there will be live racing on Memorial Day, May 31.

The meet was originally scheduled to run from May 6 to May 31. However, due to concerns with the track at Laurel Park, the season started a few weeks early, on April 23, with an end date to be determined.

WAGERING MENU

Pimlico offers win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagering on all races with a sufficient number of betting interests. There are also “rolling” doubles and pick 3s offered on every race. The doubles are a $1 minimum bet, while the pick 3 is a 50-cent minimum bet.

There are two pick 5s each day, with a 50-cent minimum bet and 12% takeout. The early pick 5 is on the first five races of the day, while the late pick 5 is on the latter five races. The early pick 5 does not have carryover potential; the late sequence can carry over from day to day if no one has all five winners.

On cards with at least nine races, Pimlico offers three pick 4s. The early pick 4 starts in race 2, the middle pick 4 begins in race 4, and the late pick 4 consists of the last four races. The minimum wager is 50 cents.

A rainbow jackpot pick 6 is offered on the last six races. If there is not one unique winning ticket on that day’s sequence, 60% of the pool is paid out to any winning tickets, and 40% of the pool is carried over to the next race day.

Alexander Crispin (Coady Photography)

JOCKEYS AND TRAINERS TO WATCH

The mid-Atlantic region has a reputation for producing great jockeys, and Alexander Crispin looks to continue that tradition. He won the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice jockey last year, while riding in Maryland and Delaware. As of May 2, he had won four races from 35 mounts on the current Pimlico meet.

Sheldon Russell has been one of the top jockeys in the region for almost a decade. He’s won five riding titles at Laurel, narrowly missing a sixth this past winter, and two more at Pimlico. He’s off to another strong start at the current meet, with five wins from 28 rides through May 2.

Jevian Toledo is another Maryland mainstay, with six riding titles under his belt. He’s in the hunt in the current rider standings, with eight wins. The current leader, Carol Cedeno, rides predominantly at Delaware Park, but has enjoyed success at Pimlico this year, having won 11 races so far (through May 2).

In the training department, Claudio Gonzalez looms large. Last year, he won 101 races in Maryland, more than double the total of runner-up Mike Trombetta. He’s won 14 training titles at Laurel, plus one at Pimlico. Last year, he scored his biggest win to date, taking the Grade 3 Pimlico Special with Maryland-bred Harpers First Ride. He’s second in the current trainer standings behind Kieron Magee, another notable trainer on the circuit.

Mike Trombetta and Jerry Robb also had strong seasons last year, finishing with 43 wins each to tie for second in the overall Maryland standings. Brittany Russell had her breakout year last year, finishing in a tie for fourth with 39 victories. At the Laurel fall meet, she finished second to Gonzalez in the standings by four wins despite saddling 49 fewer starters. She’s married to Sheldon Russell, who rode many of her winners last year.

TRACK TRENDS

Pimlico has a reputation as a track that plays toward speed. That trend has held true through the first two weeks of 2021. Through the first two weeks of the meet (ending May 2), there were 22 pacesetters who crossed the wire first from 65 dirt races, a 33.8% win rate. A further 11 who crossed the line in front were in second place after the first quarter of a mile, while one winner was in first place after the opening quarter, lost the lead, then regained it.

Speed held better in sprints than in routes. There were 15 gate-to-wire winners in sprints, for a 37.5% win rate, while 28% of routes were won in gate-to-wire fashion.

The majority of winners so far have been locals. In overnight events, horses shipping from Parx Racing are 2-for-17, while invaders from Charles Town are 2-for-15.

WHERE TO WATCH

You can watch racing from Pimlico on their website, www.pimlico.com. The official wagering partner of Pimlico racing is 1/ST BET, where you can watch and wager on Pimlico, as well as tracks all over the country. Daily racing from Pimlico is also televised on TVG, and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on May 14 will be shown on NBCSN. Undercard races from the Preakness card on Saturday, May 15 will air on NBCSN starting at 2 p.m. ET before NBC’s broadcast of the 146th Preakness begins at 5 p.m. ET.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!