After 2020 saw the Preakness Stakes move from June to October and run without spectators, the 2021 Preakness Stakes is almost back to normal. While it will not be a full house, the event returns to its normal place on the race calendar – two weeks after the Kentucky Derby – and looks to be a weekend full of fun. So, what should fans expect at the 2021 Preakness Stakes?
High precipitation is in the forecast the week leading into the Preakness Stakes – with a particularly heavy amount expected Thursday night into Friday, with more rain expected Friday afternoon. The track will undoubtedly be muddy for the Friday races, and with below-seasonal temperatures and overcast conditions on Saturday, the track may not dry up in time for the big race on Saturday. With the conditions unpredictable, Preakness Stakes betting odds are sure to move to favour the horses suited to running in the mud.
If you are going to the event, make sure you bring a raincoat or poncho, as umbrellas are prohibited everywhere at the event.
Limited Fans But Fun Times Nonetheless
The Preakness Stakes is known for drawing a large and rowdy crowd. While crowds are expected to be just as rowdy this year, the number of fans in attendance remains limited. The Pimlico Race Course plans to open its gates for up to 10,000 fans on Saturday – a tenth of maximum capacity (98,983).
The capacity is a fifth of what we saw at the Kentucky Derby (which drew around 51,000 fans) and is about the same as we expect to see at the Belmont Stakes (expected to host 11,000 fans) in June.
Even with limited capacity, fans will be treated to concerts from 2 Chainz and Jack Harlow during the day (and before the big race). The concerts – named Preakness LIVE in 2021 – is in place of the annual InfieldFest, a larger event that has taken place at the Preakness since 2010.
Field Size Something to Watch Before the Race
As of the weekend before the race, ten horses are slated to run the event. If the total drops, even by one horse, it actually becomes statistically more difficult for the Kentucky Derby winner to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.
In 25 races at the Preakness with nine horses or less, the Derby winner has only won the Preakness five times. Keep an eye on the field leading up to the race – especially if you are planning to bet on Derby winner Medina Spirit to win the Preakness Stakes. If the field drops to nine (or even eight), you likely can get better odds on an underdog.
Fun Fact: In 1926, 26 horses entered the Preakness Stakes, causing it to be run in two legs with 13 horses apiece. It is the only time in the history of the event there were so many horses and two legs run.
Normal Post Time in 2021
Last year, due to the lack of fans in attendance, the Preakness Stakes post time was an hour earlier than usual. It seems like the 5:45 PM EST was a one-off thing, as the 2021 Preakness Stakes post time is set for 6:45 PM EST (potentially 6:50 PM EST if other races run a little late). Make sure you have your bets on the Preakness Stakes in before the post time, or you will miss out on the fun!
Likely to See Some Celebrities and Athletes in Attendance
Although the Kentucky Derby is the more prominent celebrity draw, you should still expect some notable names to be in attendance on Saturday. In 2019, celebrities sighted at the Preakness included Robin Thicke and Vanessa Williams. The event usually draws many players from the Baltimore Ravens (since the Pimlico Race Course is located in Baltimore, Maryland) as well as noted politicians from Washington D.C.