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Preakness Stakes Expert Picks for 2022: Epicenter the Heavy Favorite

Dave F.

by Dave F. in Horse Racing

May 20, 2022 · 9:00 AM PDT

Preakness Stakes
The derby horses head down the home stretch as Epicenter with jockey Joel Rosario up (3) and Zandon with jockey Flavien Prat up (10) lead with Rich Strike with Jockey Sonny Leon up (21) coming in on the rail in the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. Kentucky Derby 71
  • Kentucky Derby Runner Up Epicenter enters Saturday’s Preakness Stakes as a heavy favorite
  • Could the distance, pace, or new challengers make the Preakness very different than the Derby?
  • What are the best ways to bet the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico?

This year’s Preakness Stakes has several major storylines. Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike isn’t running, Run for the Roses runner up Epicenter is the reasonably favorite, and Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath is battling the boys.

Who opts-in, and who passes up the trip to Baltimore always play a big factor in setting the Preakness Stakes odds and makes futures betting guesswork.

By virtue of being the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, it is almost impossible to say Preakness without talking about the Kentucky Derby. Even without Rich Strike, is this a coronation for Epicenter? How will the Preakness be similar to or different from the Derby? Who got fortunate, or which horse was unlucky in Louisville?

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Preakness Stakes Expert Picks

Picking the winner and considering value when making a bet are two different things. Preakness Stakes betting sites give you multiple ways to wager. Understanding horse racing bet types goes a long way towards determining the best way to attack any individual or series of races.

Epicenter was a logical favorite at Churchill Downs and will be an even more convincing chalk in Baltimore. He didn’t win the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports. Will he get the job done in The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans in your Preakness picks?

Preakness Stakes odds are heavily impacted by what happened most recently. And while most bettors are used to the “American” style of odds, at many racebooks they will be displayed in the fractional format. We’ve displayed both throughout this article.

Derby runner-up Epicenter is +120 (6/5). Simplification, who rallied to finish fourth in Louisville is +600 (6/1). Happy Jack is the only other horse to run on the first Saturday in May and be entered at Pimlico. He was +2320 in the Derby, finished 14th, and is a +3000 (30/1) Preakness longshot in current Preakness odds.

Post time Saturday is slated for 7:01 pm ET. The mile-and-three-sixteenths Preakness will air on NBC. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s with about a 20-percent chance of rain.

Secret Oath is the Belle of the Ball

If you think Epicenter is just faster than his eight competitors and is the best bet for the Preakness, that is justifiable. However, it is worth noting that the Ragozin Sheets, who make horse racing speed ratings based on not just the time of a race, but the track conditions, and historical measures, found Rich Strike’s win to be the slowest Derby victory in 50 years.

Interestingly, if we go back just one day, they were slightly more impressed by Secret Oath’s Oaks victory.

Secret Oath finished third racing against boys in the Arkansas Derby but had a somewhat troubled trip. She dominated her three previous races against girls. Trainer Wayne Lucas is 86 years old and has won the Preakness six times. Early Voting is +450 (9/2).

Suicidal Pace?

In recent years the Kentucky Derby has been won on or near the front. That led to the 2022 tempo having the fastest first quarter-mile in race history. To the surprise of nobody, the early speed fell apart, and stalkers and closers dominated the top placings.

Trainer Chad Brown won the Preakness in 2017 with Cloud Computing at +1340. Cloud Computing finished third in the Wood Memorial, skipped the Derby, and scored in Baltimore. This year Brown has Early Voting. He was second in the Wood and skipped the Run for the Roses in part because he wanted to avoid the early speed dual.

At +350 (7/2), there is a very real chance Early Voting will have the lead without being pushed too hard in Baltimore. Might Armagnac at +1200 (12/1) press the pace? Is he fast enough? Maybe Epicenter will be closer to the front this time, sensing the tempo will be slower.

Preakness Stakes Best Bets

A theory on the race always helps guide wagering for your best bets for the Preakness.

Do you trust Epicenter, who has the best resume but couldn’t get it done even though the pace was to his liking in Kentucky?

Secret Oath didn’t fare well against the boys in her first try. Will a different rider and perhaps a better trip change her result?

Does Early Voting get a relaxed easy pace? He is certainly more well-rested.

You need a sliver of a price to make good money. Early Voting can get the lead but others including the favorite will be close. Secret Oath will turn out to be a really nice filly, but not a generational one who can beat boys.

Epicenter passes Early Voting in the stretch, and Simplification flying late gets in the exacta.

Pick to win: Epicenter
Exacta Pick: Epicenter, Simplification

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