Who will win the 2024 Preakness? Picks including longshots from experts, enthusiasts and more

Who will win the 2024 Preakness? Picks including longshots from experts, enthusiasts and more

I grew up in a family that always had cats and that often went to the racetrack. I was in kindergarten when my father started teaching me to read past performances.

Learning the data-based approach didn’t stop my mother and me from betting every horse that had “cat” or “kitty” or “kitten” in its name. While that might not be a long-term winning strategy, it felt kind of great when a horse named Crazy Catlady won and paid $28 at Belmont Park.

People bet horses for all kinds of reasons. My nephew bets the longest shot in every race, and I once won a $700 pick-3 by betting three of my favorite trainers in three consecutive races. Easy game, right?

And then, of course, there’s handicapping: hours spent poring over past performances and speed figures and potential race shapes.

A race is always more fun to watch when you’ve got a few dollars on it, so if you fancy a flutter on the Preakness, we offer here a range of approaches. Good luck at the windows, and safe trips to all.

Uncle Heavy

I’m not a huge bettor, so I’m always on the lookout for a longshot. Trainer Butch Reid might not be familiar to casual racing fans, but he’s well known in the Midlantic, and he’s got a reputation as a good horseman. I think he’s got a shot here to win the biggest race of his career.

The storyline is a good one. Uncle Heavy was bred by Reid’s wife Barbara and is named for Reid’s brother Mark, but beyond sentimental support, Uncle Heavy has a chance to upset on Saturday. He’s run twice on wet tracks, winning both races, including the Grade 3 Withers Stakes. His stalking style will be compromised if Imagination emerges as the lone speed (which is likely), but if anyone decides to go with Imagination, Uncle Heavy might be able to stick around at the end. He’s going to be on my tickets, on top and underneath.

I’d be foolish to ignore both Imagination and Derby winner Mystik Dan, so I’m likely to play exactas, trifectas and superfectas using those two, Uncle Heavy, and Tuscan Gold, especially if the latter’s post-time odds are anything near his morning line of 8-1. – Teresa Genaro


It feels like this race went from an easy choice — Muth — to wide open. Left with so many options, I’ll stick with the more sure thing: Bob Baffert. Though Imagination has just two wins in six horses, he’s also never finished worse than second. He’s a decent speed horse, and if he can get to the lead he just might hold onto it to the wire.
For the exacta, I’m taking Catching Freedom and I’ll throw in Mystik Dan for the trifecta. Catching Freedom finished just off the three-horse photo finish in the Derby, and though he might have fared better with Muth to set the speed, I still like the Brad Cox horse here. As for Mystik Dan, he was 18-1 in the Derby for a reason, but with Kenny McPeek extolling his virtues yet again, it’s hard to ignore the Derby winner altogether. – Dana O’Neil, The Athletic

Tuscan Gold

As Teresa noted in her horse preview, this horse is inexperienced, but everyone seems to love the talent of this horse. The trainer-jockey combination of Chad Brown and Tyler Gaffalione are experienced and I think this will be a weird race in the slop and with little speed out front. There’s a good chance that Imagination goes to the front and goes wire-to-wire, but I like Tuscan Gold to beat out Imagination and Mystik Dan at the wire. – Andrew DeWitt, The Athletic

Mystik Dan

Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (5) is my top pick. I’d love to offer something more creative with better value, but I did get creative with how I’d like to see his trip play out. With previous morning line favorite Muth scratched, the pace scenario changes. Considering how close Mystik Dan was to the pace in the Derby and that no other speed types are drawn to his inside, I’d love to see jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. establish some forward position and go gate to wire. Tuscan Gold (8) is the “new shooter” that may have run a better race than Catching Freedom (3) in the Louisiana Derby, as he was more prominent early and caught wide. We’ve seen that be a productive race, with Antiquarian winning the Peter Pan Stakes in his next start last weekend. Imagination (9) will take significant support in the wagering, and should be forward. I’m just not convinced of his overall level of ability. My pick: 5-8-3-9 – Sara Elbadwi, on-air racing analyst, The New York Racing Association

Tuscan Gold

Trainer Chad Brown has an excellent record with lightly-raced Preakness contenders, and Tuscan Gold’s close third behind Catching Freedom in the Louisiana Derby (G2) showed class and potential. He should be able to sit close to a contested pace from the likes of Seize the Grey, Imagination and perhaps even Just Steel; Tuscan Gold is the top selection. With a strong chance of rain in the forecast, Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan can run back to his impressive Southwest (G3) romp. Uncle Heavy is an interesting off-track long shot prospect after his Withers (G3) win. – Rowan Ward, chart caller and freelance writer at blinkers-off.com


The bigger the race, the more thought seems to go into handicapping it, but I always try to keep the “think long-think wrong” mantra in my head and remember that certain horseplaying axioms are just as applicable in a $2 million Grade 1 race as they are in a claiming race at Belterra Park.

Imagination is the lone speed in the Preakness Stakes, and lone speed is the most powerful weapon a horse can have in any race. Jockey Frankie Dettori will get to dictate terms aboard this Bob Baffert trainee, and I think he will be the right price to gamble if he can make the lead and stay there for 1 3/16 miles.

The tactics behind him will be interesting. There is some thought that Seize the Grey, one of two horses from the D. Wayne Lukas barn, could be part of the early fray, and Mystik Dan was not that far behind a quick pace when winning the Kentucky Derby, so he can press the issue sooner rather than later as well.

If things get too hot up front, then that most benefits Tuscan Gold, who will be more forwardly placed than Catching Freedom-the Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher who beat Tuscan Gold in the Louisiana Derby but who might have too much to do here.

Imagination-Tuscan Gold-Just Steel is my trifecta. – Ed DeRosa, vice-president of content, Horse Racing Nation


The scratch of Muth on Tuesday really affects this race from a pace standpoint. Imagination finds himself in the enviable position of being lone speed instead of setting the table for his highly regarded stablemate, Muth. He has been training forwardly since his near-miss in the Santa Anita Derby on April 6. Multiple Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert seems to have this one ready to deliver peak performance in Baltimore. The post position should not be an issue as there is a long run from the start to the first turn. Arguably the best international rider of all time, Frankie Dettori, gets the mount which only adds to Imagination’s appeal in this race. It’s Imagination for me in the 2024 Preakness. – Barry Spears, co-host, Going In Circles podcast, horse racing analyst/influencer

Mystik Dan

For sentimental reasons, nothing would please me more than seeing D. Wayne Lukas earn his 15th victory in a Triple Crown race. In 2013, the Hall of Fame trainer won the Preakness with a 15-1 longshot named Oxbow. Eleven years later, he returns to Pimlico with two more colts listed at 15-1 on the morning line: Seize the Grey and Just Steel. If Lukas is going to get back to the winner’s circle this time around, it’ll likely be with Seize the Grey, who seemed to have a bit left in the tank when he won the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. The grey son of Arrogate is my pick to cross the wire in front and give “The Coach” one more victory on one of racing’s biggest stages. – Matt Hunter, veteran horse reporter

Mystik Dan

While the tendency is to get creative or try and find a price play in the Preakness, most roads point to the likely favorite and Derby winner. Mystik Dan has earned the highest speed figures on almost any system of any horse in the race, is the most consistent performer in the field, is most proven, and, most importantly, appears physically to be just as good, if not better, now than he was going into the Derby. From a pace standpoint, it might appear that Imagination has an edge as the quickest early, but he’s untested outside of California and has had relatively easy and ideal set-ups, something he may not be able to obtain in Baltimore. The potential for a sloppy track only enhances Mystik Dan’s chances. Historically Derby winners have been able to ride the momentum of success through the second leg of the Triple Crown. I’ll ride along with him, with Mystik Dan running down Imagination and holding off a late closing Catching Freedom to keep the dream alive.

Mystik Dan over Catching Freedom and Imagination. – Caton Bredar, horse racing analyst

Catching Freedom

No horse has looked better training this week at Pimlico than Brad Cox’s Catching Freedom. Cox acknowledged pace-setting Muth being out of the field doesn’t help his horse’s chances as a deep closer, but Catching Freedom has run well in wet conditions before and looks ready to spoil Mystik Dan’s Triple Crown bid. – Stephen Whyno, Associated Press

Mystik Dan

Imagination is one of the favorites for a reason — he has all the money and the names behind him and he’s raced well and has great speed. With his Baffert-brother-in-training Muth out, it’s easy to see him finishing first. But I don’t want to count out Mystik Dan, who could be on a hot streak and who races well in the slop. Plus, the heart wants what it wants, and mine wants a Triple Crown. Uncle Heavy has a great story (love that) and is good on wet tracks. – Hannah Vanbiber, The Athletic

(Photo of Mystik Dan: Rob Carr / Getty Images, )

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