What To Watch For In the Kentucky Derby To Help You Bet On The Preakness

Written By Sam Hollingsworth on May 2, 2023 - Last Updated on April 3, 2024
Kentucky Derby betting

It’s officially Kentucky Derby week, and there’s plenty of excitement surrounding so many elements of this year’s Triple Crown saga.

And, while the First Saturday in May at Churchill Downs gets a majority of the hype and is undoubtedly the most popular leg of the historic racing trilogy in America, the other two jewels of the Triple Crown can be just as exciting — and lucrative — as the historic field of 20 that hit the dirt each year.

Kentucky Derby post position draw and morning line odds

The post-position draw for the Kentucky Derby was held Monday afternoon. Since then, four horses have scratched from the field. Here are the results and the Derby odds as of Friday afternoon.

Post PositionHorseOdds (as of Friday afternoon)
1Hit Show34-1
2Verifying22-1
3Two Phil's8-1
4Confidence Game17-1
5Tapit Trice5-1
6Kingsbarns12-1
7Reincarnate15-1
8Mage18-1
9SkinnerScratched
10Practical MoveScratched
11Disarm31-1
12Jace's Road37-1
13Sun Thunder32-1
14Angel of Empire5-1
15Forte9-2
16Raise Cain36-1
17Derma Sotogake8-1
18Rocket Can34-1
19Lord MilesScratched
20ContinuarScratched
21Cyclone Mischief45-1
22Mandarin Hero29-1
23King Russell44-1

Things to watch for in the Kentucky Derby to help future Preakness bets

One of the things that makes the Kentucky Derby so thrilling is the 20-horse field.

It’s the largest American horse race in terms of field size — so much so that the starting gate has to have an extension put on it to fit the last six horses.

But it also leaves very little room for error for two of the most thrilling minutes in sports each year.

There’s also the modern-day point system that systematically qualifies horses based on their performances on the Derby Trail leading up to the Run for the Roses.

This means, sometimes, there are underdeveloped horses that are still developing into quality horses on the racetrack — they just don’t shine until later in their 3-year-old season since they weren’t able to learn as fast as others do.

This can be caused by a multitude of factors, but there are horses nearly every year that aren’t ready to contend on Derby Day then make a run at one of the late-season Stakes races or simply don’t blossom until their 4- or even 5-year-old seasons.

This is one of the many complexities that stand between quality horses winning or even finishing in the top 10 finishers in the Derby.

Betting angles to consider in the Preakness as a result of the Derby

With so many variables involved, there are plenty of takeaways from Derby Day that can help those betting on horse racing in Maryland more-informed come Preakness Day.

As such, there are a number of angles to consider coming out of the Derby and looking ahead at the next two legs of the Triple Crown.

Fresh contenders aiming at taking down the Derby winner

Of course, one of the toughest challenges when it comes to racing in the Triple Crown, especially after winning the Kentucky Derby, is taking on fresh horses that didn’t compete in the Run for the Roses.

Most years we see fields with multiple “fresh-legged” horses hoping to dethrone the Derby winner and crush any potential hopes for a 14th Triple Crown winner.

The same happens in the Belmont Stakes, but with the Preakness being the shortest distance of the three Triple Crown races — and it still being fairly early in the 3-year-old racing season — many trainers and owners consider the Preakness to be an easier race to conquer with a horse that hasn’t fully matured and may not be yet built for the grueling Belmont Park stretch. (Belmont is the longest dirt race track in North America with its 1.5-mile oval, and stretch of “Big Sandy,” as it’s sometimes called, eats up whatever remaining speed a horse may have left across the final furlongs.)

Horses that get a bad break but still run formidably in the Derby

With a competitive field of 20 (or close to it) fighting from the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby, there are just too many factors that can affect the race and its outcome that the race is able to end “fairly” every year.

That’s just not the case.

The most pivotal part of the Derby — and nearly every horse race — is the start. And if a horse has a poor — or horrible — start, it can make winning the race impossible.

It’s important to watch what those horses do for the rest of the race, including how they get back in contention and how strong they cross the finish line.

Very rarely is a horse with plenty of run left in him (or her) pulled up and rested in the Kentucky Derby (barring injury).

After all, it costs more than $25,000 for each horse to be entered in the Derby. And, if your horse is running in it, you hope he has a chance to finish strong enough to at least earn a piece of the generous $3 million purse.

Horses that are still developing their late-blooming careers

As mentioned earlier, some horses just aren’t ready to run their best races early in May of their 3-year-old campaigns.

These horses may not get it turned on in time for the Preakness either, just two weeks after the Derby, but this angle could prove lucrative in terms of later-in-the-year stake races like the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Betting on the Preakness

Using some of the highlights mentioned above to shape your Preakness wagers is a great way to not only handicap the race, but also find some sleepers that finished towards the back of the pack in the Derby.

Regardless of your betting style, there are ways to work in different angles depending on the horses you’re privy to and considering what they did — or didn’t — do in the Derby.

The best Preakness bets will consider all of the angles mentioned above while also being mindful of other outside factors like weather, how much a horse has raced before the Preakness, where their prep races were (including the distance they ran at and the time between races), and so much more.

Try to focus on a few key contenders that were consistent on the Derby trail early in the year while also using the most important details from their trip in the Run for the Roses, and try to come up with a formula for a winning wager.

You’d be surprised just how lucky you may get.

Photo by Charlie Riedel / Associated Press
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Sam Hollingsworth

Sam is a native New Yorker with a long history of sports betting as well as watching, wagering, and owning racehorses, and, of course, casino-frequenting. He enjoys visiting sporting venues — anything from the U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to any baseball game regardless of the level of play or length of the drive to get there, and any horse racing venue. Sam is a marketing executive, father and dog owner with a zest for life and love for exploring.

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