By Chet Fussman | | 6 mins
Preakness Stakes Odds, Picks & Complete 2021 Handicapping Guide
What was an impressive Kentucky Derby victory by Medina Spirit turned into a controversial one after the Bob Baffert-trained colt failed a post-race drug test, putting his first-place finish in jeopardy. Churchill Downs suspended Baffert and said the horse would be disqualified if a split sample comes back positive.
It was initially unclear if Medina Spirit would even be permitted to compete in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, but Preakness officials ultimately allowed it.
From a horse racing betting standpoint, Medina Spirit backers who were rewarded at 12-1 in the Derby will have to settle for 2-1 or less in Saturday’s Preakness. That’s not a lot of value, but the 10-horse Preakness field offers less quality and quantity.
The main challenger is another Baffert horse, Concert Tour, who is the 5-2 morning-line second choice after bypassing the Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit is one of only three horses in the field who ran in the Kentucky Derby. The others are Midnight Bourbon and Keepmeinmind.
The trend is their friend: Since 2001, only four horses won the Preakness that did not compete in the Kentucky Derby. One of the four was filly Swiss Skydiver in 2020.
Preakness Stakes 2021 Odds
|1 Ram||30-1||Santana Jr.||Lukas|
|3 Medina Spirit||9-5||Velázquez||Baffert|
|4 Crowded Trade||10-1||Castellano||Brown|
|5 Midnight Bourbon||5-1||Ortiz Jr.||Asmussen|
|7 France Go De Ina||20-1||Rosario||Mori|
|8 Unbridled Honor||15-1||Saez||Pletcher|
|9 Risk Taking||15-1||Ortiz||Brown|
|10 Concert Tour||5-2||Smith||Baffert|
Preakness Stakes morning line odds via TwinSpires sportsbook
Preakness Stakes 2021 Field
In order or morning-line odds
Medina Spirit (9-5): Controversial Kentucky Derby winner (for now) failed post-race medication test, but tenacious colt likely to be just as formidable here. Derby win was his fastest race yet. Question is whether he can repeat that effort on short rest.
Concert Tour (5-2): The other Baffert horse has been pointed for this race since a disappointing third in Arkansas Derby, the first loss of his career. Expect him to be forwardly placed and a major factor if he wants the distance.
Midnight Bourbon (5-1): Non-threatening sixth in Derby when early bumping incident took away his early speed. His best makes him a contender, but with just two wins in eight lifetime starts, he’s hard to trust, especially at 5-1 or less.
Crowded Trade (10-1): Most lightly-raced horse in the field has only three starts and one win. Colt’s late-running style would benefit from hot early pace. Trainer/jockey duo Chad Brown/Javier Castellano won 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing.
Rombauer (12-1): Solid third in Blue Grass Stakes and could be sitting on big race under strong West Coast connections. But speed figure-wise, he’s a slight notch below.
Keepmeinmind (15-1): Seventh-place finish in Derby was better than it looked. Was off slow, raced extremely wide most of the way, and passed horses late. Only one lifetime win in seven starts.
Risk Taking (15-1): Second of two horses trained by Chad Brown was dismal seventh as betting favorite in Wood Memorial. Previous two races were solid wins, but not sure he was beating much.
Unbridled Honor (15-1): Only one win in five lifetime starts. No early speed and would need pace meltdown to help his chances.
France Go de Ina (30-1): Japanese-based horse (bred in Kentucky) makes his first U.S. start. Lone stakes attempt was well-beaten sixth in UAE Derby in Dubai. Gets top rider, but bit of a mystery.
Ram (30-1): D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt coming off two consecutive wins over far easier competition. Would have to take significant step forward to be competitive here.
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Preakness Stakes 2021 Betting Storylines
Failed chemistry: There is plenty of scrutiny and suspicion on Baffert after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for anti-inflammatory medication betamethasone. Baffert initially said the horse never received the steroid, then said a veterinarian applied an antifungal ointment to treat dermatitis that included betamethasone. Baffert has won the Preakness seven times, but his actions have placed the running of the second jewel of the Triple Crown under a cloud.
Quick turnaround: The two weeks between the Derby and Preakness is not a lot of time. That’s why the second, third and fourth-place Derby finishers are sitting this week out and preparing for the Belmont Stakes or other future races. Medina Spirit is a smallish colt who ran hard to win the Roses. Is there enough in the tank to repeat that performance two weeks later?
Limited fans: The Kentucky Derby crowd was limited to 51,000, less than one third of capacity. Pimlico officials are being even more cautious, with attendance limited to 10,000 and no InfieldFest, replaced by a socially distanced concert experience. Still, it’s better than the eerie sound of silence.
Our 2021 Preakness Stakes Picks
If you played a $2 exacta box on our top three Kentucky Derby selections, your payout was $503.60.
1. Medina Spirit
While Baffert may be feeling the pressure, Medina Spirit hasn’t been reading the headlines. The feisty colt is simply the fastest and most battle-tested horse in the field. He made the Derby lead surprisingly easy and was unyielding late. He may not get the same trip in the Preakness, but his tactical speed won’t keep him far off the pace. The short two-week turnaround is a legitimate concern, but Baffert (like him or not) has done it many times before.
At 12-1 on the morning line, he’s an enticing win bet and adds value to exotic tickets. All six of his races were a mile of longer, and he gained ground or held his own down the stretch in all of them. He will need to run a career best to have a chance to win this, but his numbers are improving, and another step up makes him a contender at a price.
3. Crowded Trade
Has shown a lot of promise in three starts, which may help him overcome a lack of seasoning. His speed figures are competitive, and a poor start may have compromised his third-place finish in Wood Memorial. At double-digit odds, he’s worth including in exotics.
Our Preakness Stakes 2021 Betting Strategy
Medina Spirit (9-5) on top of exacta bets with Rombauer (12-1) and Crowded Trade (10-1). Will also put top Derby finisher first and second in trifecta tickets and include Keepmeinmind (15-1) and Concert Tour (5-2) over at TwinSpires.
2021 Preakness Stakes on TV
Post Time: 6:47 p.m. (ET), Saturday
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore