Follow The Money: Using Charts to Understand Potential Payouts
Level: Beginner
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

Judging by our pre-Preakness search traffic, some of you are curious about exacta, trifecta and superfecta payouts in past Preaknesses. Big race days, such as the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races, offer something that one doesn’t find on a run of the mill weekend: a LOT of money up for grabs. Let’s investigate.

It’s good to first understand that horse racing is pari-mutuel, which means we’re playing against ourselves versus playing against the house. The money for each type of wager is bet into what’s called a pool. This why you’ll sometimes hear a wager referred to as the pool (e.g., “there’s a lot of money in the win pool”). So on big race days when more people are playing, the pools can grow quite large.

One way to find out past payouts is to consult results charts. Charts, as they’re commonly called, are essentially the official record of the race and contain a large amount of usable information. We’ll dive deeper into charts in future posts, but to understand the types of payouts we can expect for the Triple Crown races, we’ll focus primarily on the pools and the payouts themselves. Naturally, the odds of the horses influence the payouts as well.

In the charts, the pool information is listed at the top of the chart after the conditions of the race. The example below is from the 2012 Preakness.

Pool information is found at the top of the chart

If we look at the exacta, trifecta and superfecta pools from the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes from going back to 2007, we can get a good idea of how much money is up for grabs, and why playing on big race days is exciting.

There’s no disputing that the Kentucky Derby is the king of giant pools. Generally speaking, the amount of money bet into the Preakness exacta and trifecta pools is roughly half that of the Derby. The Belmont Stakes generally trails off a bit unless there’s a Triple Crown on the line, as there was in 2008, but even then the pools are not as big as they are in the Kentucky Derby.

How do these amounts compare to regular race days? At Belmont Park on the Saturday between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness a total of $9,100,439 was wagered (see the last page). On 2013 Black-Eyed Susan day at Pimlico, the day before the Preakness, a total of $13,096,736 was wagered on the day.

And how about those Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes payouts during the same time period?

While the amount of money in the pools is important, the odds of the finishers are the real drivers. If longshots finish in the top positions, the payouts are going to be bigger, period. The 2011 Belmont Stakes is a great example, the pools were smaller but longshots ran 1-2-3. On the other hand, a heavy favorite can drive down prices, such as California Chrome’s win in the 2014 Kentucky.

The Preakness payouts can be lackluster, especially on the heels of the Kentucky Derby, but not always. In a year with an overwhelming favorite an upset can produce some juicy exotics payouts. In 2011 Shackleford (12-1) defeated favorite Animal Kingdom (2-1) with longshot Astrology (15-1) in third for some of the higher exotic payouts of the last few years. 2010 produced the best exotic Preakness payouts of the last five years with Lookin at Lucky (2-1), First Dude (23-1), Jackson Bend (11-1) and Yawanna Twist (16-1) comprising the superfecta. Lookin at Lucky was the second choice on the board with favorite Super Saver running eighth. The 2013 Preakness produced higher than usual payouts as well when heavily favored Orb ran 4th and longshots Oxbow, Itsmyluckyday and Mylute ran 1-2-3.

As an example of how the pool size can inflect payouts, the trifecta in the 2013 Black-Eyed Susan saw horses with the following odds finish 1-2-3: 2-1, 12-1, 19-1. The trifecta pool was a mere $350,507 and the $2 payout was $333.40. It’s hard to imagine that this result would pay less than four digits in a Triple Crown race given the pool sizes.

Trying to figure out how to construct your tickets? Dive further into the Preakness payouts of the with historical charts fro 2007 to 2017, courtesy of

2007 Preakness Chart
2008 Preakness Chart
2009 Preakness Chart
2010 Preakness Chart
2011 Preakness Chart
2012 Preakness Chart
2013 Preakness Chart
2014 Preakness Chart
2015 Preakness Chart
2016 Preakness Chart
2017 Preakness Chart

To access historical charts at, go to the Brisnet Results and Charts section where you’ll find a link called Chart Archives (FREE). There you can select the track, year and month. In the case of the Preakness, you would select Pimlico, May and the third Saturday. (The Kentucky Derby is the first Saturday in May and the Belmont Stakes is three weeks after the third Saturday in May).

Once you click “Search” you’ll have to sign-in (registration is free!). You’ll be presented with a links for each race. The Preakness is usually the second to the last race of the day. Both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes tend to be followed by two more races. You have have to poke around a bit, but it’s all pretty straightforward.

Trying to understand potential payouts and finding pool information are only a few of the things you can do with charts. We’ll look into some other uses in upcoming posts!

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Charts and PPs provided by Brisnet

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