Horse Racing

3 Best Bets for the 2024 Preakness Stakes

FanDuel Staff
FanDuel Staff
3 Best Bets for the 2024 Preakness Stakes

The 2024 Preakness Stakes is coming up on Saturday, May 18, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The race is one of the showpieces of American horse racing, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The race offers the winner the lion’s share of a $2 million purse, a signature blanket of black-eyed Susans, and a place in history alongside legendary horses like Man O’ War, Secretariat, and Curlin.

Although nine runners originally drew into the Preakness, only eight are expected to run after the Wednesday-morning scratch of Muth. Among the eight who remain in the running, three ran in Churchill Downs’ most historic race. These include Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan, who continues his Triple Crown quest after a thrilling nose victory over Sierra Leone and Forever Young in the Run for the Roses.

Five of the runners are new faces. Even with the defection of Muth, however, trainer Bob Baffert will be back in the picture with Imagination, who was ineligible for the Kentucky Derby because trainer Bob Baffert cannot enter horses at Churchill Downs-owned tracks. However, Baffert can still race horses anywhere else in the country, including in the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

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Betting on the Preakness Stakes will be exciting. After all, no runner brings either a clear pace advantage or an overwhelming edge on speed figures into the race. This sets up for an exciting betting race on the third Saturday in May.

These three contenders for the Preakness Stakes may be near the top of the morning-line odds, but they all have serious claims on winning the race. Be sure to check out our dark horse Preakness Stakes picks for even more betting options, especially if you like to play long shots or build out exotic wagers around the race!

1. Tuscan Gold

The scratch of Muth from the Preakness Stakes moves Tuscan Gold into the category of horses who are likely to be among the favorites. Despite his inexperience, this status is warranted. After all, when anyone thinks of a trainer who can turn relatively inexperienced horses into Preakness winners, one name comes to mind: Chad Brown. He had Cloud Computing ready to win the 2017 Preakness Stakes in just his fourth career start, and did the same thing with Early Voting in 2022. Now we see Tuscan Gold coming into the 2024 Preakness Stakes in (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) his fourth career start.

To be fair, Tuscan Gold’s route to the Preakness Stakes is a little different than either Cloud Computing or Early Voting. Cloud Computing and Early Voting ran in New York points races, had enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field, but were bypassed to the Preakness. Tuscan Gold did not have enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field. However, his strength of schedule in the one points race he contested was better: in his stakes debut, he ran a good third in the Louisiana Derby (G2), a more currently live prep than anything in New York, behind Catching Freedom and Honor Marie.

The pace should work nicely for Tuscan Gold, as well. He was never more than 2 ¼ lengths from the lead at any call during the Louisiana Derby, meaning he can get the good tactical placement that plays so well at Pimlico. And, he kept on with enough interest over the 1 3/16-mile distance of the Louisiana Derby to suggest that he will stay the trip at Pimlico, possibly even better since he has that extra race fitness in him.

In short, Chad Brown comes into the second jewel of the Triple Crown with a horse who has class and an appealing running style, and he could come out of it with his third career Preakness winner.

2. Mystik Dan

Trainer Kenny McPeek was cautious about keeping Mystik Dan, 5-2 in the morning-line Preakness Stakes odds, on the Triple Crown trail. McPeek did not confirm the Kentucky Derby winner for the spot until he galloped well and scoped clean on Saturday. However, it makes sense: even with so much tradition and history behind the series of races, it’s just good practice to make sure he was ready to wheel back.

Wheeling back is a bit of a concern, as Mystik Dan ran poorly in an allowance last year two weeks after breaking his maiden impressively at Churchill Downs. That could be a suggestion that he does not want to come back so quickly. However, on the other hand, he has had a long time to mature since then, and he may be better equipped to handle a demanding schedule after having that time to grow up.

In terms of pace, the Kentucky Derby winner should have some pace, though probably not an overwhelming amount. The scratch of Muth detracts from the early pace, but Imagination, Just Steel, and Seize the Grey are all likely to show some gas. And, as a midpack type, Mystik Dan could get the jump on real closers like Catching Freedom. In short, unless a massive speed bias emerges at Pimlico Race Course earlier on the Preakness Stakes card, he should get a fair shake from a pace perspective.

Finally, the weather could play in his favor. Though his wins in the Kentucky Derby and a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs showed good form over a dry track, his dazzling eight-length score in the Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn showed that he skips over a wet track beautifully. With a strong chance of rain on Preakness day and the days before, the wet footing may help Mystik Dan keep the dream of sweeping the Triple Crown races alive.

3. Catching Freedom

Catching Freedom, 6-1 on the morning line, was a late entrant to the Preakness Stakes picture. Brad Cox did not originally plan to run him in the second jewel of the Triple Crown after his fourth-place effort in the Kentucky Derby, but he was training well enough at Churchill that Cox decided the day before the draw that he would go to Pimlico Race Course after all.

Though he may be spurned by some bettors because of that last-minute decision, Catching Freedom has many of the tools necessary to be a good Preakness horse. He won the Louisiana Derby (G2) at 1 3/16 miles, meaning he has already proven that he has Preakness stamina. Even though he is a closer, typically the deepest closer in the field, he has fired in every single one of his six starts. He has also shown that he does not need to drop out of touch completely, as he adapted well to smaller or closer-knit fields in races like the Smarty Jones and the Rebel (G2). The Rebel also proved he could handle a wet track, something he may have to tackle in Baltimore.

Catching Freedom also consistently has good form through many of the horses he will face in the Preakness Stakes. He beat Just Steel in the Smarty Jones (and in the Kentucky Derby), he beat Tuscan Gold in the Louisiana Derby, and even though Mystik Dan beat him in the Run for the Roses, Catching Freedom was still only 1 ¾ lengths beaten for all of it, something a different day or a different trip could turn around, especially if Mystik Dan does not end up catching his beloved wet track.

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