A look at the handle numbers from Saturday’s Preakness Stakes Odds card at Pimlico shows some good and bad news. Unfortunately, it’s the bad news that sticks out.
The smallest field in nearly 40 years tarnished the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Only seven broke from the gate, and only Kentucky Derby winner Mage advanced from the Run for the Roses. That led to the race generating just $54.6 million in wagers. That was down nearly 16.5% from last year when nine horses ran. And last year’s race was down 5% from the record $68.7 million set two years ago.
Where the small field really hurt the race was in the exotic pools. The Superfecta pool dropped $2.8 million to $4.9 million, and the $9.7 bet into the Trifecta pool was off 20% from last year’s $12.1 million.
We break from Kentucky sports betting updates to bring you a recap of the Preakness.
Some Silver Linings Exist
That was the bad news, but the data also shows some positive trends.
For starters, the handle for the entire card was $101.7 million. While it’s the second straight decrease in all-sources wagering for the 14 races, the past two years were the two highest totals ever.
In addition, the year-to-year decline was just $2.6 million, less than the decrease in the Preakness Superfecta.
One item that stood out within the Preakness betting totals was the amount wagered for horses to win. Despite the field being smaller than last year, bets to win increased by more than $750,000 to $15.4 million.
Like the Derby, this year’s Preakness was the first where FanDuel Kentucky Sportsbook offered its online sports betting customers access to its parimutuel racebook. That connected the sport to individuals who may not have bet on a horse race – online, at least.
The Derby had 18 horses, down from the 20 that raced last year. Still, despite fewer options, bets to win in the Derby increased by more than 22% from last year.
FanDuel said that its customers played a pivotal role in the Derby’s increase, and odds are they were also the catalyst in the Preakness.
Learn More: Best Kentucky Betting Promos
Forte Back for the Belmont?
Any hope for a Triple Crown winner fell to the wayside when National Treasure won the Preakness, edging Blazing Sevens by a neck. Mage came in third, 2-1/4-lengths back.
Mage’s connections have already said their horse will skip the June 10 Belmont Stakes and instead prepare their colt for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August.
National Treasure gave trainer Bob Baffert a win in his first Triple Crown race since 2021. He missed last year’s races after being suspended for 90 days due to a failed drug test by Medina Spirit, and a separate ban issued by Churchill Downs that ends later this year kept him out of the Derby.
After the Preakness, Baffert said he was considering his horse for the Belmont.
Trainer Todd Pletcher may send as many as four horses to New York for the 1-1/2-mile race. Among the possibilities is Forte, who missed out on the Derby and Preakness after a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission veterinarian scratched the Derby morning-line favorite on the morning of the race.
Pletcher said he expects a vet to watch Forte breeze later this week. If the vet clears Forte and a drug test comes back negative, then the 2-year-old champion would likely be entered in the race.
Other Pletcher horses that may run include Tapit Trice, Kingsbarns and Prove Worthy.
A deep field with horses like Forte and National Treasure would help spur Belmont Stakes odds, even if no one can win the Triple Crown. In addition, FanDuel has scores of users in New York, where the single wallet is available.
Last year, bettors wagered $50.2 million on the Belmont. With eight horses running, $12.1 million wagered on horses to win. If a similar size field runs in the Belmont this year, a 5% increase in win bets, which is what the Preakness experienced, may very well happen.
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