Preakness Stakes 2017 Preview

One of my favorite weekends in sports is upon us. Both the NBA and NHL conference finals are underway, the MLB is trudging along, and most importantly, the Preakness Stakes. The second leg of the Triple Crown takes place this Saturday in Baltimore, MD. The race features Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Post Position 4, 4-5) and nine competitors that will attempt to stop him from taking his next step towards Triple Crown fame.

Of the nine competitors, four also ran in the Derby two weeks ago. Classic Empire (Post Position 5, 3-1), Gunnevera (Post Position 6, 15-1), Lookin at Lee (Post Position 9, 10-1), and Hence (Post Position 3, 20-1) all will be taking their second shot at Always Dreaming. Classic Empire was seen as an early favorite in the Derby and wound up finishing 4th after a strong finish. Gunnevera and Hence both return after finishing 7th and 11th, respectively. The other competitor taking a second shot at Always Dreaming is Lookin At Lee. This horse came out of nowhere to take 2nd at the Derby. I didn’t even make mention of this colt in my Kentucky Derby preview a couple of weeks ago and I owe him an apology.

In addition to the returning competitors we also have 5 new faces looking to end Always Dreaming’s Triple Crown hopes. These horses include Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money, Multiplier, Senior Investment, and Term of Art. Oddsmakers are not very high on any of the new competition.

Cloud Computing, who currently sits at 12-1 odds, is the favorite of the newcomers but has just the fourth best odds overall. He will come out of post position 2. This colt has three career starts and has finished in the money in all three. He has however declined in each of his finishes. His first start was at Aqueduct in a Maiden Special Weight race which he resulted in a win. His next start was in the Gotham Grade II Stakes where he finished 2nd to J. Boys Echo (15th at Kentucky Derby). Cloud Computing’s last start was in the Wood Memorial where he would finish 3rd behind Irish War Cry (10th at Kentucky Derby). This horse is trained by Chad Brown and will be jockeyed by Javier Castellano.

The other competitor drawing some attention is Conquest Mo Money. This horse will be coming out of post position 10 and is at 15-1 odds to win this race. Mo Money has the pedigree needed to win this type of race. Mo Money comes from the Uncle Mo family tree who was also the sire of Nyquist (last year’s Kentucky Derby winner). This colt actually qualified for the Derby but decided to skip the Run for the Roses after finishing a close second in the Arkansas Derby to Classic Empire. Mo Money is trained by Miguel Hernandez and will be rode by Jorge Carreno.

This race is Always Dreaming’s race to be won. His biggest challengers are Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee. Even though Lookin At Lee finished 2nd at the Derby, he benefited from running on a sloppy track. (Lookin At Lee’s jockey, Corey Lanerie, finished 2nd last year at the Preakness Stakes, on a sloppy track). The weather for Saturday appears to be better than what it was at the Derby. All signs are pointing to this race being ran on a track deemed in good condition. This will benefit Always Dreaming and let him run his race. The weather also bodes well for other horses in this race like Hence and Gunnevera. Both of these horses were taken off their game by the weather and are capable of running a better race come Saturday.

The more and more I look at this race, I have a harder time seeing any of these horses beating Always Dreaming and I think he will be heading up to Belmont in three weeks looking to bring home the secondTriple Crown in three years. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for betting purposes) for me, Bob Baffert will not have any horses in this race and Victor Espinoza will not be aboard any horses in this years race. Espinoza has won 2 of the last 3 Preakness Stakes and always finds a way to be up near the money in these types of races.

As you head to the betting booth this weekend, I would suggest playing the trifecta and superfecta on this race with Always Dreaming being such a heavy favorite and having Classic Empire a close second. I like Gunnevera and Lookin At Lee to round out the top-4. I also like Cloud Computing to sneak up into the money being that he could have ran in the Derby and should be well rested.

The biggest question about Saturday revolves around Always Dreaming and if he will be up to the challenge to bring home the 2nd leg and whether or not he will be heading up to Belmont looking to capture that elusive Triple Crown.

And they’re off in the Preakness Stakes…

-Sean Demetrakis

Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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