The 142nd Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, will go this Saturday with the resounding Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming taking on what looks to be nine other runners.
If Dreaming can repeat his Derby winning run he will be very hard to beat but as always we will look for some potential upset candidates. This is, after all, a horse race.
Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Always Dreaming, had a horrible record going into the Derby and had not done well with Preakness runners, going 0-8. Pletcher likes to bring horses to the races off a six week layoff.
With the Preakness coming just two weeks after the Derby we can see why his record is zip. That could all change with Always Dreaming, who is undefeated going two turns, winning four straight races by a combined 23¼ lengths. He will most likely be around even money in this race.
Pletcher’s only other Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, finished eighth in the Preakness in 2010, but Always Dreaming is not a Super Saver. He has not been tested in those four wins and it may not happen in this race – unless…
Classic Empire is ready to run his race. His Derby fourth place finish was so much better than it looked as he just had more trouble than can be stated. Most would have packed it in but he kept running and looks to have the best shot at beating Always Dreaming. Trainer Mark Casse is really looking for this chance to beat him but may need some help up front.
Help could come up front from the speedy Conquest Mo Money, who ran a very game second in the Arkansas Derby battling head to head the entire 1-1/8 and just getting beat by Classic Empire by a half a length. He has won three of five starts with two seconds and will be right on the engine or flanking Always Dreaming.
With Royal Mo out of the race due to an injury last week these two look to have the front end alone in what could be an epic battle, and that is what Classic Empire will be looking for.
Some of the other runners in here that look to have a shot at hitting the exotics are Gunnevera. Jockey Javier Castellano jumps over to ride the Chad Brown runner Cloud Computing, but Gunnevera picks up big money Mike Smith. Cloud Computing could cause a stir if able to keep pace with the other two front runners, Always Dreaming and Conquest Mo Money.
Lookin At Lee, who got the perfect trip in the Derby, will be closing again looking for a piece of the pie. We just don’t see him winning from far back but do see him in the trifecta and superfecta.
Multiplier was huge in the Illinois Derby, running a big figure off a maiden score in his previous race. Look for the bounce.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Hence did not have the best of trips in the Derby and could rebound for a piece of the pie, but I don’t see him winning.
Some other potential runners in here are Senior Investment, who looks overmatched, and Term of Art, who was crushed by Classic Empire in the BC juvenile. Lancaster Bomber, coming from over the pond for O’Brien, showed early speed on the grass and would be a huge surprise.
Bottom line: This looks like a race for Always Dreaming to lose but Classic Empire is capable if he can ever duplicate his Breeders’ Cup win. We will use those two first and second in the exotics.
On Friday they run the Black-Eyed Susan for 3yo Fillies at 1-1/8. There are none in the field of 11 that ran in the Kentucky Oaks.
No. 4 Full House, trained by James Jerkens, showed some good early foot. Jockey Feargal Lynch rides No. 5 Lights of Medina for Todd Pletcher. He was on this filly in her last race, which she won for fun on the slop. Lynch, champion rider in England, has won 3 of 7 starts with two seconds and one third.
Lights of Medina worked a bullet on May 11 at Belmont and looks loaded. Pletcher also sends out No. 7 Moana with J.R. riding. Moana has run just two races, going off at 60 cents on the dollar first out, and winning like a good thing in her second start. Now Pletcher moves her into this Grade 1.
Javier Castellano will ride No. 9 Summer Luck for Mark Casse. She will be making a late run. Pletcher looks to have them surrounded with his two runners and we will be keying on No. 5 Lights of Median and No. 7 Moana.
Play of the Week
In Thursday’s eighth race at Santa Anita take No. 2 Gee Street. We look for the money run here as Nakatani gets back on for the hot Richard Baltas. This hook up has been a money maker and Baltas wins at around 30% when dropping from a straight maiden race to a maiden claimer.
Have a great week. Get out and play those big twin Q’s at Station Casinos or the South Point this Saturday. You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.