It’s time for the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, as Always Dreaming bids for a shot at immortality in three weeks at Belmont.
First, a quick history lesson:
Now, let’s go through the field:
1 – Multiplier (30-1) – He ran down Hedge Fund to win the Illinois Derby last time. Hedge Fund is running in the Sir Barton on the undercard. Multiplier, however, is a closer that doesn’t figure to get a ton of pace in this race and will have to run much faster. We prefer others.
2 – Cloud Computing (12-1) – We’ve always been a fan of this horse, who had an impressive debut against NY-breds before running second in the Gotham forging a very fast pace. Then in the Wood Memorial, he broke a length slow, inched up on the backstretch, and faded late on a track on which it was very tough to make up ground. I’d argue that all of his races are good, and outside the top two, he is the one horse that I think could potentially upset the field. There are some concerns, mainly we’re not sure how good the Wood Memorial field was (Irish War Cry did not run well in Kentucky and runner-up Battalion Runner was taken off the trail after training poorly). Plus, this is just his fourth career start. 30 of the last 33 Preakness winners ran in the Derby (exceptions were Rachel Alexandra, Bernardini, and Red Bullet), but Cloud Computing has a shot.
3 – Hence (20-1) – We can safely toss his Derby, as did trainer Steve Asmussen (hence, no pun intended, Hence’s presence here) did. The sloppy track, and some traffic didn’t help him. But we’re still basing his resume on winning the Sunland Derby, a race that while it did produce some improved performances from other runners, also featured a fast pace that flattered Hence. Today, there doesn’t appear to be a ton of speed. We prefer him to Gunnevera, but are limiting him to third in trifectas.
4 – Always Dreaming (4-5) – The Derby winner ran well two weeks ago in Kentucky, but did have a pretty good trip, stalking the overmatched State of Honor before taking over and winning comfortably. The race did hold together, with Battle of Midway holding on for third batting on the lead, and inside runners (including runner-up Lookin at Lee and fifth place finisher Practical Joke) performing well. We did not like him going into the race, after his soft trip in the Florida Derby, so he certainly exceeded our expectations last time. Today, he should get another good trip considering there isn’t a ton of pace. Obviously he can win, but we’ll take a shot against.
5 – Classic Empire (3-1) – We’ll take a shot against Always Dreaming with this horse, the two-year old champion. This year has been a tough one for Classic Empire, who ran a 102 Beyer in a tremendous performance to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile last year. This year, he didn’t run well in the Holy Bull, had a foot abscess, missed a race, won the Arkansas Derby in a grinding performance, and then went to Kentucky. In the Derby, he was hammered out of the gate and found himself 10 lengths out of it, five or so lengths out of position. He then made a wide move around the turn, covering 75 feet more than Always Dreaming and more than 80 feet more than Lookin’ at Lee. He was the best outside mover in a race dominated by runners that spent time inside, and now he should be fit and ready to go in the Preakness. He’ll be closer today (he’ll probably need to be) and he’s our pick for the minor upset.
6 – Gunnevera (15-1) – Gunnevera’s claim to fame is the perfect trip, fast-pace aided win in the Fountain of Youth. He did not have much of a shot in the Kentucky Derby in the race that held together while he made a very wide move around the far turn. He was pace compromised in the Florida Derby too, but ultimately, we’re just not sure how good he is in the first place. Like Hence, we’ll limit him to third in trifectas.
7 – Term of Art (30-1) – It’s hard to see how he is going to impact this race, or find the race that he has that makes him a contender here.
8 – Senior Investment (30-1) – He won the Lexington at Keeneland last time but got a huge pace to attack in the process and still only earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure. He’ll have to run a lot faster against much tougher horses with less pace today. No thanks.
9 – Lookin at Lee (10-1) – Considering he could be the third choice (maybe fourth behind Cloud Computing), he is the one we do not want. He’s a deep closer who will not get the pace he’s been used to in this race. Plus, last time, he was given a spectacular ride by Corey Lanerie, saving ground every step of the way en route to a runner-up finish behind Always Dreaming. Classic Empire, for example, ran 80+ feet more than Lookin at Lee per Trakus. He seems to be just a late runner with little upside that needs a monumental pace, and isn’t one we’re interested in using.
10 – Conquest Mo Money (15-1) – He ran a huge race in the Arkansas Derby and is the intriguing new face in the Preakness. In the Arkansas Derby, he set a very fast pace, one that fell apart late, and was just run down by Classic Empire. He skipped the Derby to point for this race and looms an intriguing longshot here. He will probably go to the front and if Always Dreaming lets him go…stranger things have happened. Still, we’re going to limit him to underneath.
The Pace – The only two legitimate speed horses in this race are Always Dreaming and Conquest Mo Money. Conquest Mo Money’s early intent will likely dictate whether Always Dreaming goes to the lead or stalks from the two-path. Either way, the pace shouldn’t be too fast, which likely compromises the chances of the late runners. We’d expect Classic Empire and Cloud Computing to stalk from just in behind those top two.
Analysis – We’re going to take Classic Empire to pull the small upset. His Derby is much better than it looks on paper and he should be closer to the pace today assuming he breaks well. Cloud Computing has run three races that are all better than they look and figures to get a good trip as well. Always Dreaming was the best horse last week but faces two legit challengers here today so we’ll take a small shot against the Derby winner. Good luck!