2019 Preakness Stakes Betting Odds, Analysis: Power Ranking the Contenders and Live Longshots

2019 Preakness Stakes Betting Odds, Analysis: Power Ranking the Contenders and Live Longshots article feature image

Patrick McDermott, USA Today Sports.

  • The 2019 Preakness Stakes begins on Saturday, May 17 at 6:48 p.m. ET at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Sean Zerillo power ranks the horses based on their betting value, including contenders, longshots and fades.

With the first four horses to cross the finish line at the 2019 Kentucky Derby bypassing the 144th Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown is shaping up to be a great betting race.

There are nine new shooters in the field, and four Kentucky Derby returnees (Improbable, War of Will, Win Win Win, and Bodexpress). New shooters have only won the Preakness Stakes four times since the turn of the century, but at least one has finished in the trifecta at the same rate over the same period.

You need to focus on the new shooters if you’re playing single race exotics. But this is also a year where one of them has a legitimate shot at winning. If that happened, it would be the second occurrence in the past three years after Chad Brown’s Cloud Computing won the 2017 Preakness.

2019 Preakness Stakes Odds

No. 1: War of Will (4-1)
No. 2: Bourbon War (12-1)
No. 3: Warrior’s Charge (12-1)
No. 4: Improbable (5-2)
No. 5: Owendale (10-1)
No. 6: Market King (30-1)
No. 7: Alwaysmining (8-1)
No. 8: Signalman (30-1)
No. 9: Bodexpress (20-1)
No. 10: Everfast (50-1)
No. 11: Laughing Fox (20-1)
No. 12: Anothertwistafate (6-1)
No. 13: Win Win Win (15-1)

It also wouldn’t be that surprising, given the unflattering results to date of this current crop of three-year-old horses.

Odds shift dramatically from their morning line value. So which horses will provide the most betting value on Saturday?

My rankings are below:

Win Contenders

No. 5 Owendale (10-1)

Owendale sounds like the name of a gated community, which is part of the reason why I expect his post-time odds to inflate slightly (due to the presence of the horses with the cooler names listed below him in this section) before the race starts.

Horses are not even close to fully developed at this age. Owendale gained steam at the end of the Triple Crown trail and made an eye-catching move to win the Lexington (G3) in the last stop before the Derby, but the 20 points he earned were not enough to get him into the race.

Had he made the Derby, I think Owendale would have been a sleeper. And I think he’s good enough to win here. I’ve seen a lot of analysts smarter than myself pick him on top in this race.

No. 2 Bourbon War (12-1) 

If you liked second-place finisher Code of Honor heading into the Kentucky Derby, then you should like Bourbon War heading into the Preakness.

Bourbon War sat behind a fast pace in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and was closing fastest of all runners to finish less than a length behind Code of Honor. Neither got the pace that they needed in the Florida Derby, running third and fourth in the same order.

However, the Florida Derby field came back great in the Kentucky Derby, with Maximum Security leading wire-to-wire, Bodexpress putting in an honest effort, and Code of Honor making a late charge on the inside to cross the line third before his finish was later upgraded.

Bourbon War is likely to take a lot of money because he is talented, and as I mentioned, he has a sexy name that the public will want to back. I think he’s a definite win contender but is also more likely to be 6-1 than 12-1 by post time.

He’ll also be wearing blinkers for the first time in the Preakness.

No. 1 War of Will (4-1)

War of Will is going to be a sentimental second choice in the Preakness Stakes. He was forced out by Maximum Security in the Derby but was still full of run in the stretch, and he could improve off of that race making his second start since suffering a setback and not genuinely running in the Lousiana Derby.

Before that, he won the Risen Star over (eventual) Derby winner Country House in impressive fashion:

War of Will was a buzz horse before the Derby due to his workouts at Churchill Downs, but drawing the rail seemingly crushed his chances heading into the race.

He drew the rail again for the Preakness, but it doesn’t necessarily affect him here in the same way. The rail at Pimlico is not as intimidating as the one at Churchill Downs because the stretch is more of a straightaway at Pimlico and the horse on the rail doesn’t have to move over as far as they would have to in the Derby.

You’ll likely get a better price on War of Will for a horse who has roughly the same chance of winning as…

No. 4 Improbable (5-2) 

As a son of City Zip, distance has always been a question for Improbable. He also hasn’t won a race this year, and this is his third race in five weeks, but he’s a clear favorite due to the Bob Baffert/Mike Smith combination behind him.

Improbable ran a solid race in the Kentucky Derby after closing as the favorite due to the absence of Omaha Beach. It was his second straight race on a sloppy track, and he also ran into traffic in the stretch before finishing a few lengths behind.

On a dry fast track, without traffic directly in his path, Improbable is the most likely winner of this race. I’ll use him in all multi-race wagers and single race exotics, but do not see much value in betting on him straight up to win.

Alwaysmining (No. 7, 8-1)

The local hope in the Preakness Stakes is typically over-bet, and I expect that to be the case once again this year. Alwaysmining is one of only five horses that I think have a real shot at winning this race, but I’m also expecting him to be closer to 5-1 than 8-1 by post time.

He won the Federico Tesio Stakes as a heavy favorite, showing that he can sit behind other horses and make his move when he needs to.

That being said, this is still a step up in class for Alwaysmining; racing against graded stakes competition for the first time. The question is whether he can put multiple horses away on the front end and still have enough left to get to the wire first.

He is looking to become the first Maryland-bred horse to win the Preakness since Deputed Testamony in 1983, and his Maryland-based trainer, Kelly Rubley, is making her first attempt at becoming the first-ever woman to train a Preakness champion.

Horses To Use Underneath

No. 12 Anothertwistafate (6-1)

His three wins have come over synthetic tracks where he led gate-to-wire, but his last two races have been second-place finishes on dirt behind Kentucky Derby runner Cutting Humor, and behind Owendale in the Risen Star (the first video in this article).

Anothertwistafate is one that you must include in single race exotic wagers, as he consistently puts himself in good stalking positions to hit the board.

No. 11 Laughing Fox (20-1)

Laughing Fox will look to drop back like Owendale and Bourbon War to come with a late run, but I don’t think he’s entirely in the class of those other two horses.

However, he’s certainly good enough to hit the board in this race, and his trainer Steve Asmussen has been hotter than any trainer this year. Asmussen trained Tenfold who finished third in the 2018 Preakness at odds of 20-1, and who won the Pimlico Special at Pimlico on Friday.

This is Laughing Fox’s third start in five weeks, but he did get an automatic bid to this race with a come from behind win in the Oaklawn Invitational on a track with a speed bias:

I think you need to include him in your trifectas and superfectas at big odds.

No. 13 Win Win Win (15-1)

Win Win Win barely qualified for the Derby on points over the next horse, Signalman, by edging him at the wire by a nose in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2). Neither Win Win Win, nor Vekoma ran particularly well in the Derby, so it remains to be how the form of that race will hold up.

Win Win Win’s connections mentioned that he doesn’t like running in the slop. He has hit the board otherwise in every start.

Adding blinkers might also help with his issues getting out of the gate, leaving him closer to the pace when he starts his late run.

Don’t Toss Out

No. 8 Signalman (30-1)

Signalman could be the horse that goes wholly overlooked and finishes third in the trifecta. Where Win Win Win might be more mid-pack in this race, Signalman is a dead closer.

He ran out of steam in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) when he tried to keep up with Vekoma, and Win Win Win nipped him at the wire.

No. 3 Warrior’s Charge (12-1)

Perhaps the most exciting story in this race. Warrior’s Charge was a supplemental entry for a fee of $150,000.

His owner Marshall Gramm, an economics professor, believes it’s worth the risk. If Warrior’s Charge is currently worth $600,000, and winning the Preakness could make him worth as much as $4 million with a $900,000 prize, you’re talking about odds of about 28.6 to 1 on a horse with morning line odds of 12-1.

Gramm believes that his investment would break even with a third-place finish. But he also gets to send a horse to a Triple Crown race, and I would cut off at least one finger (making this and future articles much harder to type) to do that.

Warrior’s Charge should ensure an honest pace early and might be able to stick around just long enough to finish third or fourth if he can hang around at this distance.

Cross Them Off

No. 9 Bodexpress (20-1)

A maiden who placed behind Maximum Security in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Analysts say “maiden” with such mock, but he’s run pretty well. Bodexpress was involved around the turn at the Kentucky Derby, but he’ll still be a maiden on Sunday morning.

Don’t hate too hard on him, he’s not going to lose 100 races like Zippy Chippy.

Bodexpress will get his one day, I don’t think he’s going to get the right setup here.

No. 6 Market King (30-1)

D. Wayne Lukas’s 44th Preakness entry, extending his record for Preakness starters. That’s what this feels like though, a tally on a career, not anything close to a contender here.

Lukas has won the Preakness five times and guided Bravazo to a second-place finish in 2018. He upset the race in 2013 with Oxbow.

Market King was a distant third behind Omaha Beach in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and was a vet scratch from the Pat Day mile on the Derby undercard. I don’t think he’s in form, and I also think he’s going to need to take a big step up here to contend.

I’ll pass.

No. 10 Everfast (50-1)

Dale Romans is a risk taker. I watched him eat a meal’s worth of fried pig fat, also known as cracklins, in a Netflix short documentary series called 7 Days Out. When his concerned daughter took the bag away, he became hilariously enraged.

Romans has landed horses in the money in big races at big prices before, but Everfast is more likely to finish last than in the money here.

He’s outclassed.