Horse Racing

Preakness bettors have left millions in winning tickets unclaimed. Here's how to avoid being one of them.

Bettors have left millions in winning tickets on the table — or ground, most likely — at Pimlico Race Course in recent years. 

The Kentucky Derby’s wild finish — where first-place finisher Maximum Security was disqualified after a 20-minute review — should remind bettors preparing for the Preakness Stakes and the Black Eyed Susan to hold on to their tickets until results are official.

Bettors have left millions in winning tickets on the table — or ground, most likely — at Pimlico Race Course in recent years.


But don’t worry too much about losing, tossing or ripping up a winning ticket. There is a process for wagerers to recoup their cash — if they act quickly.

Over the past five years inattentive railbirds at Pimlico and Laurel Park have left $5.3 million in winnings pass them by — $3 million at Old Hilltop and $2.3 million at the Anne Arundel County track, according to the annual reports submitted to the Maryland Racing Commission.


In 2018, unclaimed tickets at Pimlico equaled $583,560. At Laurel, the total was $549,362.

“Each track holds amounts owed for unclaimed winning tickets from previous meets,” states the reports submitted by the Maryland Jockey Club affiliates that operate the two tracks. “Any amounts not claimed within one year will be remitted to the Maryland Racing Commission.”

The process for claiming lost tickets is simple, said Mike Hopkins, executive director of the commission.

“You can file an uncashed ticket claim with the racetrack,” Hopkins said.

The track compares the claim against its database of unclaimed winning tickets. If no one else makes an identical claim, the bettor will be paid. If there is a rival matching claim, “then no one gets it,” Hopkins said.

“You just have to wait a year,” he said.