Saturday’s Preakness Stakes may lack the sexiness (and 20-horse field) that the Derby provides, but from a betting standpoint, it offers great opportunity. Derby winner Always Dreaming will be the heavy favorite, but there will be reasons to play against him. The idea will be to beat him here and clean up or beat him in the Belmont and make even more money.
Check back for links to our pregame.com Preakness podcast and premium picks. Here we take a look at the entire 10-horse field and how we might play the race.
As always, some knowledge is required. If you have not checked out Acing Racing 2016, now would be a good time.
Here is a look at the field:
NO. 1 MULTIPLIER
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Brendan Walsh
Race record: 4 starts, 2 wins, 1 second, 1 third.
Why he can win: He has done little wrong in his career, and put up a decent speed figure in winning the Illinois Derby. Seems to be improving and this is a logical step up.
Why he can’t: Just too many horses in here with better resumes. If Always Dreaming or Classic Empire runs anywhere near his best race, it’s probably too much for this guy. Still, he could improve enough to hit the board and provide some juice for the trifecta.
Bottom line: Would not be an impossible horse to win this, but more likely is in the mix for a minor award. Will use in trifectas. Breeding suggests he does not really want to go this far.
NO. 2 CLOUD COMPUTING
Jockey: Javier Castellano.
Trainer: Chad Brown.
Race record: 3-1-1-1.
Why he can win: He has a very solid trainer and has yet to miss the board in three starts. He could have run in the Derby but Brown opted to wait for this.
Why he can’t: He simply has not run a race good enough to be competitive here. The horses that beat him in New York did nothing in the Derby and would likely be overmatched here as well.
Bottom line: Probably better off going shorter distances. Would take an amazing amount of improvement to be a factor. Seems to be a darling of some wise guys — especially on the East Coast — so will likely be overbet.
NO. 3 HENCE
Jockey: Florent Geroux.
Trainer: Steve Assmussen.
Race record: 7-2-1-1.
Why he can win: His Sunland Derby win was as impressive as any of the preps, and if he runs back to that, he should be in the mix.
Why he can’t: Kentucky Derby was not as bad as it looked on paper, but the bottom line is this horse has been a one-hit wonder, and with each start you have to be concerned the Sunland race was a fluke.
Bottom line: Worth using in exotics, but no one will fault you for tossing him off the ticket.
NO. 4 ALWAYS DREAMING
Jockey: John Velazquez.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher.
Race record: 6-4-1-1.
Why he can win: Got the perfect trip in the Derby, and could easily get a similar run here. Derby form usually carries over to this race, and he has every reason to run another big one here.
Why he can’t: He is a bit of a head case, and some of the horses that got taken out in the Derby should get cleaner trips this time. He is also a bounce candidate off back to back big efforts.
Bottom line: The horse to beat, but also has some vulnerability here. Part of me wants to see him win so we can bet against him at the Belmont. Can’t ignore him and he is the horse you have to get around to make money.
NO. 5 CLASSIC EMPIRE
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Trainer: Mark Casse
Race record: 8-5-0-1.
Why he can win: Might have been the best horse in the Derby but never had any chance after a world of trouble that left him battered and beaten. He still managed to run fourth, and with a cleaner trip should be right there at the finish.
Why he can’t: The Derby was so roughly run that it might have taken more out of him than normal. He is a bit of a head case as it is, and who knows the mental toll it took on him?
Bottom line: At his best, a serious win threat. But if the roughly run Derby did some damage, then he could easily disappoint. Must use but don’t be shocked if he struggles.
NO. 6 GUNNEVERA
Jockey: Mike Smith.
Trainer: Antonio Sano.
Race record: 10-4-2-1.
Why he can win: Like a lot of horses in the Derby, he lost all chance at the start and then had more trouble in the stretch and still finished a respectable seventh. Should get a much better trip this time around. Switches to veteran jockey Smith and should be in the mix late.
Why he can’t: He needs a fast pace, and he might not get it here. Still, expecting a much better effort this time around.
Bottom line: Should be a serious contender, but will need an honest pace, which he may or may not get. Still, Smith is a plus and don’t be surprised if he wins it all.
NO. 7 TERM OF ART
Jockey: Jose Ortiz.
Trainer: Doug O’Neill.
Race record: 9-2-1-2.
Why he can win: He has been rested since the Santa Anita Derby, and he ran behind the brilliant Mastery two back, who was injured or would have been a heavy Derby favorite. Should thrive with more distance.
Why he can’t: He is a stone closer, and he just has not run well enough to beat a field of this caliber.
Bottom line: Another who could potentially blow up the tri at a monster price, but hard to see him winning.
NO. 8 SENIOR INVESTMENT
Jockey: Channing Hill.
Trainer: Kenny McPeek.
Race record: 8-3-0-1.
Why he can win: He is another closer who has won four of his last five. Another improving horse and McPeek’s runners have hit the board in the Triple Crown races at big prices in the past.
Why he can’t: Like the other closers, he will be at the mercy of the pace, and he might not get enough to fire his best.
The bottom line: Like this horse to get in the mix, but so much will depend on the early pace.
NO. 9 LOOKIN AT LEE
Jockey: Corey Lanerie.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen.
Race record: 10-2-3-2.
Why he can win: He is ultra consistent, and always seems to fire. His Derby was terrific, and he was the only horse to make a serious run at the winner.
Why he can’t: He just does not like to win. Half of his starts have been seconds or thirds and he is more likely to get up for a piece than win it all.
Bottom line: Loved him in the Derby, and like him here, but like the other closers, he will be at the mercy of the front runners.
NO. 10 CONQUEST MO MONEY
Jockey: Jorge Carreno.
Trainer: Miguel Hernandez.
Race record: 5-3-2-0.
Why he can win: He could easily find himself on the lead without a lot of pace pressure. His Arkansas Derby was terrific, when he hung on for second after a contested early pace. If he gets by with easy fractions here, he won’t quit without a fight.
Why he can’t: Always Dreaming and Classic Empire should be tracking close the whole way, and both are capable of outfinishing him.
Bottom line: At 15-1, you will get the probable front runner, and a horse that does not like to quit. Love this horse to be in the mix and maybe upset the whole thing.
HOW THE RACE SHAPES UP
There is not a lot of speed here, so either Conquest Mo Money or Always Dreaming likely makes the lead. If CMM gets the early lead, don’t be shocked if he hangs around for a long time. Always Dreaming and Classic Empire should be tracking close, with Multiplier and Cloud Computing in the next flight, and the closers behind that group. Two things can happen here; the pace is slow, and CMM, AD and CE dominate the running. But if those three throw it down early, it opens things up for closers like Gunnevera, Lookin at Lee and Senior Investment. Maybe throw Term of Art in that mix.
This could be as simple as boxing the 4-5-6-9-10 and hoping for the best. If you think the pace is going to be soft, you can play the 4-5-10 on top and spread deep in second and third. There will definitely be some money thrown on the 10 across the board as well. Lookin at Lee might be a good 2/3 trifecta back wheel, and you could also employ that strategy with Senior Investment.
For our premium picks, check out pregame.com soon. I will be tweeting out the link. I will have my specific trifecta plays plus a potential play on the pick 4.