Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Using Trends That Matter to Handicap the Preakness Stakes

Using Trends That Matter to Handicap the Preakness Stakes

In the aftermath of his commanding 2-3/4 length triumph in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 6, Always Dreaming was installed as the strong 4-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes during Wednesday's post-position draw at Pimlico Race Course. Multiplier will be the third Illinois Derby victor to contest the Preakness in its four runnings since the points system was launched and will look to improve on Departing's sixth in 2013 and Dynamic Impact's seventh in 2014.

The great filly Rachel Alexandra was the last non-Derby horse to win the Preakness in 2009. In his way will be a host of contenders from the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago including Classic Empire, Gunnevera, Hence and Lookin at Lee.

This year Always Dreaming is all the talk but the Kentucky Derby victor is not our top selection. He was clobbered at the start, lost position early while being shuffled back, rallied wide, and emerged from the race with minor cuts on his legs and a swollen right eye.

Trainer Mark Casse (Classic Empire, PP No. 5; 3-1) - "We'll hope for a good break".

"I do love history, and this is a attractive place", said Mark Casse, trainer of Preakness entrant Classic Empire. "Just enjoy the two weeks and just keep your horse happy".

Hence, who won a race at Oaklawn before shipping to New Mexico and winning the Sunland Derby, never had a shot in the Kentucky Derby, stuck in the middle of the pack while eating mud the entire trip. How they react to that will be paramount. But this writer is sticking with his Derby pick, Classic Empire.

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Conquest Mo Money ran second in the Arkansas Derby but was not a Triple Crown nominee. We just want a fair shot at him. "He's a tough son of a gun. If our horse breaks well, maybe we'll be on the lead".

"He's had a lot of things thrown at him, and he continues to fight back". The Preakness field is limited to 14 horses.

Newcomers to the Triple Crown campaign include Cloud Computing (12-1), Conquest Mo Money (15-1), Multiplier (30-1), Senior Investment (30-1) and Term of Art (30-1). The Illinois Derby, now run at Hawthorne with Sportsman's Park having been torn down, carries no qualifying points under the system enacted by Churchill Downs for the Derby in 2013; the Lexington, three weeks prior to the Derby, awards 10 points to the victor, making it a final chance for horses on the bubble.

Cloud Computing seems to have upside, so much so that Javier Castellano jumped off Gunnevera, whom he rode to be seventh in the Derby, in favor of this colt (though he often does ride for this barn). When we get to 5 furlongs, we know how it's going to play.

"He was as fresh coming out of the Derby as he was going into the Derby", Asmussen said. "We have to have the right spot, the right venue to have the Super Bowl here in Maryland, basically".

Though the odds maker at Pimlico may not have been impressed, Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Always Dreaming, expects another close race on Saturday. That foundation, Asmussen believes, has prepared his colts well for the demands of racing with what in this era is a quick turnaround.

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