Betting the 2022 Preakness on different budgets

May 19th, 2022

For the third time in four years, the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner will pass on competing in the $1.5 million Preakness S. (G1) at Pimlico, which means handicapping the second leg of the Triple Crown will be a bit easier than originally expected.

When Rich Strike sprung an 80-1 surprise in the Kentucky Derby, bettors were left stunned by the magnitude of the second-biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history. Was it a fluke triggered by the fastest pace in Derby history? Or is Rich Strike an improving colt who relished switching from synthetic to dirt? Those would have been key questions to answer had Rich Strike pursued a Preakness start, but since he’s skipping the Triple Crown’s middle jewel, we can save the debate for another day.

Instead, we can throw our Preakness betting dollars wholeheartedly behind #8 Epicenter (6-5), the Kentucky Derby runner-up. In a Derby dominated by late runners, Epicenter arguably ran the strongest race. Although he showed a new dimension rating farther off the lead than usual in eighth place, Epicenter raced closer to the destructive early pace than the rest of the Derby’s top finishers and was only beaten three-quarters of a length after leading past the eighth pole.

This was a terrific run from Epicenter, building on his eye-catching victories in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star S. (G2) during the winter and spring. An easy half-mile workout in :50 2/5 on Monday suggests he’s bounced out of the Kentucky Derby in fine form, so we’ll view Epicenter as a standout in the Preakness and bet the race accordingly.

Unfortunately, Epicenter is a short price on the morning line, so betting him to win won’t yield a large return on investment. Instead, we’ll key him on top of exotic wagers like the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta.

Underneath, we’ll strongly emphasize #5 Early Voting (7-2). The runaway Withers S. (G3) winner ran a gutsy race in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct six weeks ago, carving out a steady pace before settling for second place. Early Voting actually finished quite strongly down the homestretch and was only beaten a neck by Mo Donegal, who came back to run fifth with a troubled journey in the Kentucky Derby.

Early Voting has trained strongly since the Wood Memorial and is pursuing the same Wood Memorial-to-Preakness path carved out by his Chad Brown-trained stablemate Cloud Computing, upset winner of the 2017 Preakness. We’ll take a bold approach and key Early Voting to run second on all our tickets.

For third and fourth place, we have to respect Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher #1 Simplification (6-1) and the flashy Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner #4 Secret Oath (9-2). But we’ll also throw a couple of longshots into the mix. #9 Skippylongstocking (20-1) unleashed a respectable stretch rally to finish third in the Wood Memorial and is progressing in a positive direction for hot trainer Saffie Joseph, while #2 Creative Minister (10-1) was much the best in a Churchill Downs allowance two weeks ago and looks like a possible star on the rise.

Depending on the budget you’ve set aside for betting the Preakness, we’ve outlined three wagering strategies at costs of $20, $50, and $100.

$20 budget

  • $20 Exacta: 8 with 5

$50 budget

  • $30 Exacta: 8 with 5
  • $5 Trifecta: 8 with 5 with 1,2,4,9 ($20)
    Total: $50

$100 budget

  • $40 Exacta: 8 with 5
  • $8 Trifecta: 8 with 5 with 1,2,4,9 ($36)
  • $2 Superfecta: 8 with 5 with 1,2,4,9 with 1,2,4,9 ($24)
    Total: $50

Good luck!