Preakness Stakes 2021: How to hit the superfecta

Preakness Stakes 2021: How to hit the superfecta

We wanted to share with you some key insights coming out of the Preakness Stakes Super Screener database to help plot this year’s wagering strategy for this often misunderstood race.  Here are our findings coming out of an analysis of the past 20 editions of the Preakness Stakes.

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How does speed hold up in the Preakness?

You hear it time and again…you have to have a speed horse to win the Preakness. We’ll let’s take a look at what the data tells us:
Speed doesn’t hurt as 8 of the last 20 Preakness Stakes winners were either a Pace or Presser type. However, there were more winners that either came from 3 to 5 lengths off the pace or closed from 6 lengths back or more. This outcome is driven by the pace of the race. Like in any other race, the slower the pace the more likely a front runner will win the race and just the opposite when the pace is swift and pressured. This year’s Preakness Stakes is shaping up to favor those horses that will be forwardly placed as the pace projects to come in under par and the pressure will be moderate.

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What is the preferred running style to hit the Superfecta?

Looking beyond winners, how does speed hold up for the rest of the Superfecta placings? The short answer is… not so well… as the chart below reveals (click to view full-size):

Preakness Stakes superfecta chart

Considering there are only 20 pace horses that have competed in the Preakness over the past 20 years, nearly half finished somewhere in the Superfecta but the majority were off the board. There were about 40 pressers that competed and they fared even more poorly, hitting the Superfecta just 13 times with most of those being Exacta finishes.

Here’s another nugget of gold to consider, over the last 20 years the combination of a pace and presser or two presser types having completed the Exacta has happened just twice. In fact, the most prevalent Exacta combination is a speed horse and an off-the-pace or closer type finishing 1st or 2nd. That being said, those two instances of forwardly-placed types comprising the Exacta occurred in 2020 (Swiss Skydiver, Authentic) and in 2018 (Justify, Bravazo). This emerging trend is mirroring what we are seeing in the Kentucky Derby.

Note how dominant closers are in the place spot having finished 2nd in nearly half of the last 20 editions of the Preakness… add off-the-pace types to that and now we are at 70% of the bottom of the Exacta finishes.

There has been only one time since 2001 that a closer didn’t finish somewhere in the Superfecta and that occurred way back in 2003 when Funny Cide won the Preakness while pressing the pace.

The bottom line here is that speed isn’t all that it is cracked up to be once you get past the win spot and you can count on at least 1, if not 2, closers finishing in the Superfecta with the greatest likelihood being a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place finish and often at very long odds.

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Preakness Stakes pace projections

The Preakness Super Screener has projected the pace which is coming up as moderate.  Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon and Concert Tour are the only pace or presser types, which may end up advantaging the top three horses.

Preakness Stakes 2021 projected pace

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How have 'New Shooters' fared in the Preakness since 2001?

Stories are written every year about trying to make the case for ‘new shooters’ (horses that did not run in the Kentucky Derby in their prior race).  The simple truth is, however, new shooters are a bad proposition when it comes to the win spot in the Preakness.

New shooters have only won 4 of the last 20 Preakness Stakes. And, if you alter the definition of a new shooter to exclude fillies that ran in the Kentucky Oaks as Preakness winners Swiss Skydiver and Rachel Alexandra did, then make that just 2 of the last 20 Preakness Stakes.

Interestingly enough, the two new shooters that won the Preakness both ran in the Wood Memorial prior to winning the Preakness. Cloud Computing did that in 2017 and Bernardini won in 2006 in a race marred by the breakdown of the prohibitive race favorite, Barbaro.

So, we can conclude that new shooters are up against it when it comes to the win spot. What about the rest of the Superfecta placings?

Of the possible 80 Superfecta slots, new shooters took up 26 of those positions or about one third.  So new shooters hit the board often enough that the top players should be included in the bottom of your Exotic wagers.

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How do 20-1+ long shots fare in the Preakness

The Preakness Stakes has been much maligned for being a chalky affair and while that may carry truth when it comes to the winner (no 20-1+ horse as won the Preakness over the past 20 years…closest long shot winner was Oxbow winning at 15-1 in the 2013 Preakness), at least 1 20-1+ longshot has hit the Superfecta in 18 of the past 20 editions of the Preakness. 4 of those runnings featured 2 or more long shot board hitters.

Of the 80 Superfecta slots available in the Preakness Stakes run since 2001, 22 of those positions have been taken up by a 20-1+ long shot and they were evenly distributed across 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. There were 8 times when the 20-1+ long shot finished 2nd and those are times with the Exotic payoffs are quite impressive no matter which low-priced horse wins the race.

So where do these long shots come from?  Where did they last race?  What about new shooters versus Kentucky Derby runners?

Preakness Stakes 2021 longshots

Check this chart out. The vast majority of the 22 Superfecta long shots exited the Kentucky Derby or the Blue Grass Stakes with the latter race accounting for the most scores. The Wood Memorial accounts for 3 of the 22 long shot Superfecta players.

Surprisingly, only two forwardly placed type long shots managed to hit the Superfecta, so if you are looking for your Preakness long shot, focus on closers exiting a race run at Keeneland. This year that would be Rombauer and Unbridled Honor.  Keepmeinmind exits the Kentucky Derby but ran 5th in the Blue Grass Stakes.

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What are the implications for the 2021 Preakness?

  1. Any running style is eligible to win the Preakness…let the pace be your guide. This year that pace is looking to come up such that it will favor the forwardly placed types.
  2. Note that in the past 20 years two forwardly placed types have comprised the Exacta just twice. Your best bet this year is to cover for a pace/presser Exacta but for value use the top pace/pressers with your best off-the-pace or closer in 1st and 2nd.
  3. Use New Shooters with caution for the win spot as their historical win record is very poor. Any new shooter coming under consideration should have both a pace advantage over other horses exiting the Derby and/or come from an elite barn.  Favor, instead, horses exiting the Kentucky Derby.  This year there are only 3 horses that meet that criteria…Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon and Keepmeinmind.
  4. At least one 20-1+ long shot has hit the Superfecta in 18 of the last 20 runnings of the Preakness. They finish in 2nd place as often or more often than 3rd or 4th place. Two thirds of those historical longshot were closers. Horses exiting the Kentucky Derby or a race run at Keeneland are the source of most long shot board hitters.

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Putting it all together & building your tickets

Like many years, this Preakness could be chalky on top but provides plenty of value in the underneath spots.  Get the Preakness Super Screener for all the details plus recommended Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta tickets!   

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Preakness Stakes Super Screener

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Super Screener Reader Testimonials

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Super Screener longshot success

In 2017, the Super Screener added to its greatest Kentucky Derby scores by listing 33-1 Lookin At Lee as its top longshot. Super Screener also had 37-1 Commanding Curve as a top longshot in 2014 and 34-1 Golden Soul in 2013.

Prior Super Screener readers have done well and sent in many testimonials of their wins. 

Kentucky Derby 2017 Winning Tips

Kentucky Derby 2017 Winning Tips

 

Kentucky Derby 2017 Winning Tips

Kentucky Derby 2017 Winning Tips

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