The Runner Sports

2017 Preakness Stakes Preview

With one leg down the horse racing world’s attention shifts to Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, a 1 3/16 miles “sprint.” Always Dreaming won through a muddy field to kick the trifecta of races off at the Kentucky Derby just two weeks ago. He’ll be met with four other derby contenders as well five newcomers to the field.

Located just eight miles from the heart of Baltimore, the 147-year-old Pimlico Race Course will play host to the Preakness for the 142nd time. As the shortest of the three races, the Preakness plays into the palms of the speedy. That said, we saw Exaggerator close eight lengths to win last year. With rested horses in the mix, it’s a challenging field. Just four of the previous 10 Kentucky Derby winners have gone on to nab the second leg and give the attendees at leg three something to truly be excited about. Two of the last three years (American Pharoah, California Chrome), however, has seen contenders enter race three with the Triple Crown on the line with American Pharoah becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

There are some notable missing faces in this field. As was the case in the Derby, trainer Bob Baffert will not have an entrant Saturday. Victor Espinoza, who rode both American Pharoah and California Chrome to victories here, will not have a mount. Last year’s winning jockey, Kent Desormeaux, will also be absent from the race.

Unlike two weeks ago, the weather appears ready to cooperate for race day. While some warm thunder showers spot the area Friday, the weather is expected to clear overnight, setting up for drying conditions into the day’s races. There will also be a small break from the heat that has swept the northeast, and the day should see spotted clouds with a high temp of 70 degrees; perfect race weather.

Post time for the race is 6:48 pm ET and can be caught on your local NBC affiliate, through the NBC Sports website, and on the NBC Sports Live Extra app. Coverage begins at 5 pm with earlier action to be caught on NBCSN starting at 2:30.


Multiplier


Post #1

Owner: Gary Barber, Wachtel Sable, & George J. Kerr

Trainer: Brendan P Walsh

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Odds: 30-1

Multiplier enters this race having raced just four times. He comes off posting the second fastest time ever at the G3 Illinois Derby on April 22, but hasn’t raced since. His pedigree brings in a mixture of speed and distance so this race could turn into a perfect mixture for a horse that’s really coming into itself. It will be a decent step up in class but this horse hasn’t finished outside the money with a pair of wins in its two most recent runnings. Rest can be a huge ally in this race, and if Multiplier can match a talented pace by the favorite, he could wind up making a winning combination rather profitable.

Multiplier will look to sit off the pace by about 3-5 lengths and look to make his move in the final third of the race. He might have to be a bit closer than he’d normally hang back if Always Dreaming is fired up and gets that pace moving early.

This horse will be the longest shot by the time the field breaks, but remains the biggest dark horse.


Cloud Computing


Post #2

Owner: Karavich Stables Inc. & William Lawrence

Trainer: Chad C Brown

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Odds: 12-1

Cloud computing might have been a revolution to the modern technology industry, but the horse has been anything but a trendsetter early in his racing career. He has just one win to his name, breaking the maiden on the first outing, but it came in a less than impressive five-horse field. Since, he’s finished 3rd at the Wood Memorial some seven lengths back of Irish War Cry (who finished 16 lengths back in the Derby) and 2nd in the Gotham Stakes three lengths behind J Boys Echo (who finished 22 lengths back in the Derby).

He’s never raced outside of Aqueduct and has just three races to his name. He likes to stay up front in the pack, but in this loaded field it might burn him out very quickly. If I could bet a horse to finish dead last I think I’d wager on Cloud Computing.

Javier Castellano certainly feels the horse has a chance as he’s off of Derby runner Gunnevera and will instead mount Cloud Computing for the first time.


Hence


Post #3

Owner: Calumet Farm

Trainer: Steven M Asmussen

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Odds: 20-1

I was quite high on Hence headed into the Derby. His speed is quite evident and before I jump off the hype train I’ll chalk the poor showing at Churchill to the off track conditions. The 103 Brisnet he ran in the race prior was the real deal and a much-improved track should give us a more authentic view of this horse. The last time he had a poor outing (a 7th-place finish in the Southwest Stakes) he bounced back with that lightning quick Sunland run. Don’t call it a comeback, but this should be a return to the means for this horse.

Asmussen has some solid Preakness wins in the last 10 years with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. The one thing potentially plaguing this horse has been the inconsistent jockey accompaniment. Florent Geroux will get a second go after struggling in the mud two weeks ago.


Always Dreaming


Post #4

Owner: MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm, & West Point

Trainer: Todd A Pletcher

Jockey: John R Velazquez

Odds: 4-5

Did you see how clean this horse was after winning on a very muddy track? Talk about dominating a pack. All eyes will be on Always Dreaming after a rather impressive running at the Kentucky Derby. Leading for nearly the entire race and dragged into a decent paced footrace with State of Honor on less than ideal track conditions, this horse still managed to finish in 2:03.59, just 57 tenths of a second behind the time American Pharoah ran in 2015. It was decently off the blazing 2:01.31 Nyquist ran last year, but with improved conditions afoot ahoof, Always Dreaming will look to nab the second jewel, the most sprint oriented of the three races.

He can hold the pace for longer distances, but the question here will be if another contender can up that early. Always Dreaming should be in relative control for the pace. Cloud Computing might jump the gun and attempt to set things quick, but most of the pack would be wise to react to what Always Dreaming is doing instead. The other likely horse to vie for the early pace being Conquest Mo Money who will come crashing in from out wide on the break.

If the Derby hasn’t been kind to Todd Pletcher the Preakness Stakes have downright been a bitch. He’s winless in eight attempts at the Preakness. He values rest for his horses and doesn’t often run his entrant at the Preakness after the Derby, but that obviously changes with a win and being the odds-on favorite for this race. Still, Pletcher’s training style that harps on rest could come back to nip the favorite in the butt. Will fatigue catch up to the three-year-old that hasn’t lost this year?


Classic Empire


Post #5

Owner: John C Oxley

Trainer: Mark E Casse

Jockey: Julien R Leparoux

Odds: 3-1

Classic Empire was at one point the big favorite for the Derby but slowly through the week got bet down to 6-1 and the bettors were right. Perhaps chalk it up to the muddy conditions, Classic Empire finished a less than ideal 4th, eight lengths back. At no point did he really threaten in that race but did take some solid contact out of the gate. Like Hence, we’ll reserve final judgment on the two-year-old horse of the year just a year ago, although the jury might be hung for even longer.

It’s been quite the rocky year for Classic Empire. He tossed his jockey in September of last year and a foot abscess limited his training a month ago. He clashed with McCracken at the start of the Derby and suffered an eye abrasion that had swollen so badly the next day he couldn’t open his eye. Trainers clearly seeing enough recovery to green light his presence here. This horse might be the living example of Murphy’s Law, but he’s flashed some seriously brilliant running ability. Will we finally see him tap into his full potential?


Gunnevera


Post #6

Owner: Peacock Racing Stables, LLC

Trainer: Antonio Sano

Jockey: Mike E Smith

Odds: 15-1

Gunnevera jumped into the spotlight with some serious closing power in the Florida Derby but hung well behind Always Dreaming. It was much the same in the Kentucky Derby, making up minimal ground to finish 7th some 13 lengths behind the winner. Mike Smith will overtake the ride after Javier Castellano jumped ship for Cloud Computing. He was jammed up to start the Derby, although Smith will have a bit more operating space here. It was tough work for closers at Churchill that weekend, so improved track conditions might spark a little bit of life to his kick in the Preakness Stakes.

He’s trending in the wrong direction and won’t have many feeling absurdly confident in his showings against this pack. I’ll rule out a top finish but a closer can always sneak into the money if the pace gets to breakneck speeds.


Term of Art

Post #7

Owner: Calumet Farm

Trainer: Doug F O’Neil

Jockey: Jose L Ortiz

Odds: 30-1

California kids have reveled in success in the Triple Crown circuit over the past few years, but this Cali kid might find himself quite out of his depth as he looks to race outside the Golden State for the first time. He’s gotten plenty of experience, with nine races to his name, unfortunately, he’s just never wowed in any of them. He was a 7th place finish without any threat in the Santa Anita Derby and hasn’t won since last November. It’s not like Calumet or O’Neil have never been here before or won’t likely be back, so it’s a bit of a questionable play to see them enter a horse that will very much be outclassed through and through.

They’re reintroducing the blinkers after having not worn them in the last three races, but they’ll need much more than this to have a chance Saturday.


Senior Investment


Post #8

Owner: Fern Circle Stables

Trainer: Kenneth G McPeek

Jockey: Channing Hill

Odds: 30-1

Senior Investment comes in fresh off a narrow win at the Lexington Stakes but will have his first go at a Grade 1 stakes here at the Preakness. Bold strategy Cotton. Channing Hill comes in as the jockey after riding Fast and Accurate at the Derby. They ran to a meager 17th-place finishing 28 lengths back. The 29-year-old Hill is still getting his feelers in these big races, but he’s a notable name around the country. And like his jockey, Senior Investment is well traveled as its seen eight different race tracks.

The problem being Senior Investment would need a significant uptick in speed and timing, something that just doesn’t happen simply be joining a better field. He might feel the drive early and stay with the pack, but tough paces can chew up the feeble and leave them in the dust. Maybe he will tap into something we just haven’t seen yet. But the conventional wisdom on this investment would be to sell.


Lookin At Lee


Post #9

Owner: L and N Racing LLC

Trainer: Steven M Asmussen

Jockey: Corey J Lanerie

Odds: 10-1

Even on a track that was brutal to closers, Lookin At Lee found the kick to come soaring into the money. With better conditions, Lookin At Lee looks to finish what he hasn’t been able to accomplish and catch Always Dreaming napping finally. Always Dreaming could have this race at a decent pace so it’ll require the perfect play to win in the stretch. I had sort of figured Asmussen would take this horse out of this race and make a comeback at the Belmont to spoil the day. I respect the decision to not do that, but definitely like this horse more in that distance than here at the Preakness Stakes.

His sire, Looking At Lucky, won here in 2010 but there’s also a deep history of Derby runners-up that fall off the radar after nearly missing the roses.

There’s a good shot that favorable conditions allow this horse to get back into the money Saturday, but expecting much more will likely leave you looking for comfort in your loss.


Conquest Mo Money


Post #10

Owner: Judge Lanier Racing

Trainer: Miguel L Hernandez

Jockey: Jorge Carreno

Odds: 15-1

Conquest Mo Money is gonna want to break and get out in front as quickly as possible. Without a ton of early speed in this race he’ll be one of just three to shoot for that, but breaking wide he will have to dedicate early commitment to getting in front of the 10-pack of horses. He got caught at the wire in the Arkansas Derby by Classic Empire and just couldn’t outbid Hence at the Sunland Derby.

Some shortcomings in big races spell heartbreak Saturday. He’s never finished worse than second and should be a solid bet to crack the board and get into the money in some form.

 

Betting

Predictions

  1. Hence
  2. Always Dreaming
  3. Lookin At Lee
  4. Conquest Mo Money
  5. Multiplier
  6. Classic Empire
  7. Gunnevera
  8. Senior Investment
  9. Term of Art
  10. Cloud Computing

Exacta box

Hence/(Always Dreaming, Lookin At Lee)

Trifecta

Always Dreaming, Conquest Mo Money, Lookin At Lee

Superfecta

 

Hence, Always Dreaming, Lookin At Lee, Conquest Mo Money

 

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Tyler Arnold

Tyler Arnold

I am the editor-in-chief of The Runner Sports. I watch more sports than is probably determined healthy and enjoy talking about them all. I am a firm believer in there being a "dropped peanut surcharge" at the ballpark when it's a good throw. Thanks for the read.
Tyler Arnold