Preakness has a clear favorite in Always Dreaming

Preakness has a clear favorite in Always Dreaming

May 16, 2017 3:07 AM

Always Dreaming will be an overwhelming favorite in the Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday following a dominant win in the Kentucky Derby as the 9-2 betting favorite.

He’ll have recent history on his side, too. Ten of the past 20 Derby winners left Baltimore two for two in their quest for the Triple Crown. But on Saturday, he might find a stubborn foe in a rested longshot. Conquest Mo Money is a lightly raced NY-bred who sold for just $8,500 at the Conquest Stables dispersal sale last November, a surprisingly small sum for an offspring of super sire Uncle Mo.

He won his first three starts at humble Sunland Park, raising eyebrows when he defeated Blue Grass winner Irap twice in New Mexico. He drew the outside 11 post in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby where he was up with the lead throughout and finished a very game second after pressing suicidal fractions.

Those fractions set it up for the deep closing winner, Hence. Conquest Mo Money made an early move into that fast pace, the kind of move that should have seen him back peddling in the lane. He surprisingly kicked on and ended well clear of third.

The connections threw him into the deep end of the pool in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. He again drew the 11 post and was sent hard from the gate. He never got a breather while battling rivals through very fast early fractions. The contested pace took its toll on the two runners he dueled with causing them to stop.

Conquest Mo Money again kept right in there the entire way and stayed on to finish second at 18-1 odds right behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire (who enjoyed a perfect trip) and in front of Kentucky Derby runner-up, Lookin At Lee. That was a legitimate Grade 1 effort.

Conquest Mo Money has a strong pedigree. His third dam is Passing Mood. Her offspring include the 1997 Belmont Stakes winner, Touch Gold and $2.8M turf champion, With Approval.

The Preakness might be more devoid of speed than typical. Always Dreaming has enough early foot to run with anyone but it’s quite possible they’ll stalk here, not willing to sacrifice the best colt in the race too early. Royal Mo was the only other confirmed starter with any speed but he suffered a career ending injury in a workout over the weekend.

You never know if another camp will send and inflame a paceless race but the odds are in his favor to have a much better trip than he enjoyed in his last two starts. Conquest Mo Money got a deserving rest after his game effort in the Arkansas Derby and he’ll be a fresh horse on Saturday. If he breaks well and is allowed to control the early pace, he might forget to stop at long odds.

Play of the Week

No. 7 Mo Diddley (7-5 morning line) in the first race at Churchill Downs on Thursday (2 p.m. PT).

It is a 4.5 furlong maiden special weight for 2-year-olds on the dirt. 

This race will be a two-horse betting affair between No. 5 Shangroyal and No. 7 Mo Diddley. While trainer of No. 5 Shangroyal, Wesley Ward, wins all of the two-year-old maiden races at Keeneland in the spring, he’s just 1 for 18 when moving to Churchill with debut runners in the same conditions.

Trainer Mark Casse is 9 for 32 (28%) with a 2YO sprinter going 4.5 to 5.5 furlongs at Churchill Downs. There is a ton of precious, win-early breeding on both sides of the tree. Icecoldbeeratreds is a sibling to the dam and he won the 2002 Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity as a 2-year-old, and was second in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont later that year. The works have been sensational.

But Mo Diddley is the pick.