The Biggest Differences Between The Preakness Stakes And Kentucky Derby

Written By Corey Sharp on May 12, 2023 - Last Updated on April 10, 2024
The Preakness features many differences compared to the Kentucky Derby.

Horse racing’s signature event has come and gone. The second leg to the Triple Crown may not have the fanfare of the Kentucky Derby, but it gives horse racing bettors another chance to bet on the Preakness Stakes.

There are several differences between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, with a main one being the location of the race.

Something that doesn’t change is where to bet on the event. PA horse racing bettors can wager on the race at Pennsylvania casinos or online using FanDuel Racing.

Preakness Stakes is slightly shorter than the Kentucky Derby

Though it’s not by much, the Preakness Stakes is a shorter race than the Kentucky Derby.

The upcoming event is 1 3/16 miles long or 9.5 furlongs, while the Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles long or 10 furlongs.

The Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, which is 1 1/2 miles long, make it harder for the horses to run full speed from the start. With the Preakness distance slightly shorter, jockeys are able to push their horses from the beginning.

Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, the site of the Preakness Stakes, is also a much friendlier track than Churchill Downs. The two courses use the same dirt, however, Pimlico’s ground is firmer. Horses can get a better push off the ground and run faster than on another track.

All of it depends on the weather, of course.

Significantly smaller field at the Preakness

Barring any scratches, the Kentucky Derby allows 20 horses to compete in the race. The Preakness Stakes only allows 14, which is a significantly smaller field than the first leg of the Triple Crown.

While it sounds simple, the shorter field helps the horses competing because fewer participants will be jockeying for position during that race.

It also means that the outside horses won’t have to start as far from the rail, which gives them a better chance for a good start.

Betting payouts are usually less for the Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes has the smallest purse of the three Triple Crown races. The Kentucky Derby is the largest at $3 million and the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes come in at around $1.5 million.

With fewer horses, the odds of hitting a huge payday aren’t as high as the Kentucky Derby. Most of the Preakness odds are usually significantly shorter.

Any bettor with Rich Strike in a bet at last year’s Kentucky Derby made an astronomical amount. The 2023 Kentucky Derby is a better example of a traditional finish and payout. The payout of this year’s Kentucky Derby is as follows:

  • Exacta: 8-3 | $1 exacta paid $150.22
  • Trifecta: 8-3-14 | $0.50 trifecta paid $491.18
  • Superfecta: 8-3-14-11 | $1 superfecta paid $15,643.65

The 2022 Preakness Stakes paid out the following:

  • Exacta: 5-8 | $1 exacta paid $12.90
  • Trifecta: 5-8-2 | $0.50 trifecta paid $33.25
  • Superfecta: 5-8-4-2 | $1 superfecta paid $162.90

The Preakness Stakes simply does not offer the same payouts as the Kentucky Derby.

Photo by Julio Cortez / AP
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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