Preakness Stakes Betting, Future Pool Handle Post Annual Gains

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Preakness Betting

Preakness Stakes betting rebounded Saturday with $57.9 million bet on the race after handle hit a three-year low last year.

According to race charts, 2024 Preakness betting handle was up 6% from last year’s $54.6 million total. However, it was still several million dollars off from the all-time Preakness handle record of $68.7 million bet in 2021.

Eight horses ran in the middle jewel of horse betting’s Triple Crown on Saturday, compared to seven last year. Fewer horses typically lead to lower handle because of limited betting choices.

Popularity grows for Preakness future betting

The Preakness Stakes future bet handle increased by nearly 28% compared to last year. 

1/ST Racing, which owns the Preakness, offered two separate future pools this year, compared to a single pool when the wager debuted in 2023.

With the first pool opening in late February and the second closing just before the Kentucky Derby, horseplayers put $388,400 into both pools this year, up from $304,300 in the one future pool last year.

Aligning horse racing with sports betting

Horseplayers have long been critical of the wagering menu, or lack thereof, offered by race tracks. Unlike sports betting, horse racing does not offer prop bets or head-to-head matchup markets.

Even with the growth of future bets around popular races, those pools are only available at select times and still operate under a parimutuel system. Peter Rotondo with 1/ST Racing told LSR last week that future bet handle was strong, but the offering is about more than just the money.

“The Preakness was always out of the conversation until after the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “We wanted to get in the conversation before the Derby and have the Preakness be part of the action when everyone is thinking about horse racing.”

Technology can help horse betting cross-sell

Rotondo thinks that the more options there are, the better it is for horse racing, and future bets will help bring sports and horses closer together. However, he believes technology is more important than the availability of newer bets.

“The shared wallet is the key,” Rotondo said. “I can bet the Knicks or the Rangers and then go bet the third race at Gulfstream without having to log in and out. That’s a difference maker, and it’s happening now.”

FanDuel launched its shared wallet between sports betting and horse racing in December 2022DraftKings recently announced a single sign-on process for its sportsbook and horse betting apps. 

Increased marketing drives Preakness betting

When the initial Preakness betting future pool opened, 1/ST leaned on media partners to begin promoting the wager.

One of those partners, In The Money Media, and its founder and CEO, Peter Fornatale, told LSR on Wednesday that they noticed a stronger response to the earlier pool this year.

“People are excited to speculate on future events,” he said. “Future bets have been a driver of international horse betting markets for a while now, though this is a bit of a head fake because it is parimutuel [in the US]. Racing fans are excited to express their opinion, and that’s certainly something horse racing needs more of.”

Kentucky Derby future pools grew, too

Churchill Downs has offered the Kentucky Derby future wager for several years now. It joined a running list of year-over-year increases in 2024 for the track.

The Kentucky Derby future wager experienced an overall 13% increase in handle across its six different pools this year compared to last year.

A total of $2.1 million was put into this year’s Derby future pools. The handle also includes future bets on the Kentucky Oaks.

Horseplayers spent $1.8 million on Kentucky Derby and Oaks futures in 2023.

Photo by Associated Press