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2021 Preakness Stakes Predictions and Best Bets

Here are some predictions and best bets for the 2021 Preakness Stakes.

A field of 10 will line up in the 146th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

The only chance to possibly see a Triple Crown winner this year will be decided not only on the racetrack but possibly in the testing lab, as top contender Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) is in jeopardy.

His trainer Bob Baffert announced last Sunday that the colt’s drug test came back positive for a legal therapeutic drug that is not permissible in a horse’s system on race day. A split sample was sent off to be tested, and if confirmed, the likelihood is he will be disqualified from his Kentucky Derby win and runner-up Mandaloun will be declared the winner.

In the meantime, Medina Spirit will be allowed to race in the Preakness along with his stablemate Concert Tour, and the duo are taking most of the early betting action.

Concert Tour has actually taken over the favorite’s role in early Preakness betting at Bovada at +175 while the Derby winner is sitting at +215.

After nailing Medina Spirit as our top pick in the Kentucky Derby and getting rewarded with a $26.20 payoff for every $2 wagered, we have our work cut out for us with our 2021 Preakness predictions.

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Who is the Most Likely Winner of the Preakness?

Medina Spirit is the obvious one to beat in the Preakness after the colt took the field gate to wire to win the Kentucky Derby. However, that does not mean he is the colt to wager on.

It seemed logical to me Baffert was going to send the colt early in the Derby after his runner-up finish to Rock Your World in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Now he has to face stablemate Concert Tour, who is quick, and things may not be easy early. Baffert knows how to bring them back off a two-week break, having won this race a record-tying seven times. Medina Spirit seems more likely to regress off his hard-fought Derby win, and it pains me to say I am going to jump off the bandwagon. 

Concert Tour was held out of the Derby by Baffert after he was the beaten chalk in the Arkansas Derby (G1). In that race, he prompted the early pace and weakened to finish third, beaten 2½ lengths. He had won the Rebel (G2) two back for fun, taking the field gate to wire and drawing away to win by 4¼ lengths.

He is just as fast, if not quicker early than the Derby winner, so what’s the strategy? They have different owners and I have to think Concert Tour’s owner, Gary West, may tell Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith not to worry about Medina Spirit and a pace duel developing would not be the most shocking thing we have witnessed this week.

Again, a likely winner who will not offer much betting value the way he is getting bet early.

Who is the Best Bet in the Preakness?

Not including last year, we have seen 16 of the last 19 winners of the Preakness Stakes come out of the Derby, the lone exceptions being Bernardini in 2006, Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Cloud Computing in 2017. That leads us to Midnight Bourbon, one of just two in here other than the Derby winner to wheel back in two weeks.

The colt was expected to be part of the early pace in the Kentucky Derby but was bumped around coming out of the gate leaving him in mid-pack, raced four wide then six wide coming into the stretch and finished evenly in a sixth-place finish. It is tough to win that race coming off the Louisiana Derby (G2) and the 42-day break. He was rock-solid in his three preps at Fair Grounds, a win in the Lecomte (G3), a third in the Risen Star (G2) and a runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby.

The colt picks up top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and he should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace. If the Baffert duo hook up or are not at the top of their game, this guy is the logical one to pull off the mild upset. Trainer Steve Asmussen is 2-for-13 in the Preakness, winning with Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

Who Is a Key Long Shot in the Preakness?

Unbridled Honor came with a good late rally but was no match for an impressive winner in King Fury in a runner-up finish in the Lexington (G3) in the slop at Keeneland in his last start. His first start against winners was a late-running fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

His trainer Todd Pletcher does not start many horses in the Preakness, electing to sit his Derby starters out for the most part. He has started just nine horses in the second jewel of the Triple Crown and has no wins. This colt is going to benefit if a fast pace develops and is going to end up a generous price, currently at +2500 at Bovada. He looks as if he may have as much upside as any in this field and I like the jock switch to Luis Saez.

Wagering on the Preakness Stakes

Here are some more details on how to bet on the Preakness Stakes along with what certain prop bets mean in horse racing:

Win

Midnight Bourbon looks like the value of the race and worth a win wager at odds of +450 (9-2) or better. In addition, Unbridled Honor is worth a win wager at +1000 or better.

Exotics

In the exotics, my key horse is going to be Midnight Bourbon. I will use him on top of Concert Tour, Unbridled Honor, Medina Spirit and Crowded Trade. In addition, I will play smaller tickets with Concert Tour on top of Midnight Bourbon, Unbridled Honor and Crowded Trade.  

When Is The Preakness Stakes?

The Preakness Stakes is the second jewel of the Triple Crown and will be the 13th race on a 14-race card at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday in Baltimore, Maryland.

Post time for the opening race at Pimlico on Saturday is 10:30 a.m. ET with the Preakness scheduled post being 6:47 p.m. ET. Television coverage will be from 2 to 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and then 5 to 7:30 on NBC.