Oxbow winning the 2013 Preakness Stakes - Jim McCue Photography

Oxbow winning the 2013 Preakness Stakes – Jim McCue Photography

Every year bettors handicapping the Kentucky Derby study a huge number of factors and trends that could affect the outcome of the race, placing greater emphasis than usual on things like history, pedigrees and jockey assignments.

The Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico never seems to receive the same level of attention from a handicapping perspective, but shouldn’t the second leg of the Triple Crown warrant at least a little extra study? Since the race is held in Maryland, away from the major racing circuits in New York, Kentucky, Florida and California, many of the jockeys riding in the Preakness each year are relatively inexperienced at Pimlico. Does this hold any significance?

Let’s take a look at the expected riding assignments for each 2019 Preakness contender…

Horse Jockey
Alwaysmining Daniel Centeno
Anothertwistafate Jose Ortiz
Bodexpress John Velazquez
Bourbon War Irad Ortiz Jr.
Improbable Mike Smith
Laughing Fox Ricardo Santana Jr.
Market King Unknown
Owendale Florent Geroux
Signalman Brian Hernandez Jr.
War of Will Tyler Gaffalione
Warrior’s Charge Javier Castellano
Win Win Win Julian Pimentel

Now let’s dig into a few facts and interesting trends regarding Preakness riders…

  • Two previous Preakness-winning jockeys are set to ride in the 2019 edition. They are Javier Castellano (Bernardini in 2006 and Cloud Computing in 2017) and Mike Smith (Prairie Bayou in 1993 and Justify in 2018).
  • Among the jockeys seeking their first win in the Preakness are John Velazquez (0-for-9) and Florent Geroux (0-for-3).
  • Daniel Centeno and Tyler Gaffalione will be riding in the Preakness for the first time. Over the last 15 years, the Preakness has been won on six occasions by jockeys making their debut in the race. The successful jockeys were Stewart Elliott (Smarty Jones, 2004), Jeremy Rose (Afleet Alex, 2005),Castellano (Bernardini, 2006), Martin Garcia (Lookin at Lucky, 2010), Jesus Castanon (Shackleford, 2011) and Mario Gutierrez (I’ll Have Another, 2012).
  • Despite the trend of first-time Preakness riders reaching the winner’s circle, the last six renewals of the Preakness have been won by Hall of Fame jockeys with previous wins in the race: Gary Stevens (Oxbow, 2013), Victor Espinoza (California Chrome in 2014 and American Pharoah in 2015), Kent Desormeaux (Exaggerator, 2016), Castellano (Cloud Computing, 2017) and Smith (Justify, 2018).

It seems to be easier for jockeys without previous experience in the Preakness to emerge victorious when compared to the Kentucky Derby, which tends to be won by jockeys who have previously ridden in the race. However, this doesn’t mean experience riding in the Preakness is insignificant—just look at the list of Hall of Fame riders who have won the last six renewals of the Preakness. This recent trend bodes well for expected favorite Improbable, who will have Smith in the saddle.