With the Kentucky Derby over, all eyes shift to Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown (May 20, 2017). The start list is as of yet uncertain, but Derby-winner Always Dreaming will certainly be lining up against a talented field.
Here’s how that field is shaping up ten days out.
Always Dreaming (EVEN)
The Derby-winner heads to the Preakness as the clear favorite. By all accounts, he’s recovering well from his Derby effort, and he’s arrived early in Maryland to get accustomed to the surroundings and put in some training time. Derby winners have won three of the last four Preakness runnings, and if anything, the game is becoming more predictable. Is Always Dreaming a Triple Crown horse? Maybe, maybe not, but we’ll get one step closer to finding out at the Preakness.
Classic Empire (+650)
After a tough race at the Kentucky Derby, Classic Empire should be a contender at the Preakness if he can get healthy in time. Classic Empire suffered some nasty cuts and a swollen eye, probably caused by the absolute storm of mud kicked up by the horses running ahead. With only a little more than a week to go until the event, hopefully Classic Empire’s eye makes a turn for the better so this talented horse can improve his season.
Lookin at Lee (+1100)
Listed at 33/1 before the race, Lookin at Lee had a commendable showing at the Derby, pulling of an impressive second despite starting from the one-hole. Lookin at Lee obviously responded well to the wet track, so look for him to perform well again if it rains in Maryland. The endurance he showed at the Derby will help him even more over a mile-and-a-half at the Belmont. If anyone’s going to give Always Dreaming a challenge, it’s probably going to be Lookin at Lee. If it rains again, put Lookin at Lee on your ticket.
Conquest Mo Money (+1600)
Conquest Mo Money didn’t race in the Kentucky Derby, and hasn’t raced since finishing second, and ahead of Lookin at Lee, at the Arkansas Derby in April. Trainers decided to skip the Kentucky Derby and instead focus on the Preakness, so look for this horse to be fresher than his competitors and ready to go on race day. Conquest Mo Money is dangerous when setting the pace or challenging for the lead, but struggles when coming from behind. That style should suit the Preakness which, in normal conditions, isn’t favorable for big closers.
Bought for only $16,000 at a yearling sale in 2015, Gunnevera’s gross earnings are third only to Classic Empire and Always Dreaming among the confirmed Preakness entrants. Gunnevera finished seventh at the Kentucky Derby, third at the Florida Derby, and came second to Irish War Cry at the Holy Bull in April. Mike Smith is taking over the reins for the Preakness, as regular jockey Javier Castellano is reported to have a conflict on race day. Smith could be a good fit for Gunnevera, who wasn’t positioned well in Louisville and arguably never had a chance to succeed.
Cloud Computing (+1400)
The least tested competitor, the Preakness will be Cloud Computing’s fourth start. His record so far is impressive, having never finished further back than third. But his inexperience is a concern: he’s only raced at one track in his short career (Aqueduct) and has never competed in a Grade I stakes race. He’ll be in unfamiliar territory on a few levels.