By Dennis Miller
The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown and according to those that have been to the big three races, this is the best party of the three.
The main question every year is, will the Kentucky Derby winner get it done again and give fans of the sport the excitement of a Triple Crown pursuit? Always Dreaming looks like a runner that can bring the excitement, but anything can happen when the gate opens.
One recommendation for the race is to make sure to listen to Pimlico track announcer Dave Rodman’s call of the race as opposed to the network call. Rodman is one of the elite announcers and always brings a crisp, informative call to the race.
Let’s run through the field.
Always Dreaming (4/5): Hard not to like the Kentucky Derby winner. Came into the Derby not having done anything wrong this year and continued that with is impressive win on the first Saturday in May. Not as much speed as in the Derby and the stalkers figure to have an easier route closing with only 10 horses in the field.
Classic Empire (3/1 ): Had a horrible start in the Derby and fought back to finish fourth. Other than the winner, I think Classic Empire had the best performance of any horse. After that start, he could have easily folded up and finished 10th or worse. Every indicator points to be a better trip this time and he breaks right next to Always Dreaming. Will be one to watch at better odds than you will get on the Derby champ.
Looking At Lee (10/1): Got the perfect trip in the Derby to run second. Don’t expect the same luxury here, but after that gutsy stretch run through the field in Kentucky, you must have a long look at him filling a spot on your exotics ticket.
Gunnevera (15/1): Another that had a horrible time in the Derby as he got jammed up at the beginning, brushed with others along the way and then was five wide in the mud turning for home. If you liked him as part of your ticket in the Derby – I did – then he’s a must for the Preakness. Can he win? Doubtful, but could surprise at a price, he just needs a better trip than last few and now he gets Mike Smith to pilot the closing run.
Conquest Mo Money (15/1): Has been off since the Arkansas Derby so has more rest than the first four horses mentioned. Only off race was a second to Hence in the Sunland Derby and that was a race he was further back out of the gate than normal. Breaks from the outside post which should give him a much cleaner start. You’re going to get plenty of value here.
Cloud Computing (12/1): Have not been a fan of this horse and not going to start now. If he burns me, good for him. There has been few horses that I have been a fan that come through the New York preps so his second in the Gotham and third in the Wood mean very little to me. Might be more of a threat at the Belmont rather than here as he does spot some very strong works over that track since his run in the Wood.
Hence (20/1): Nightmare Derby experience but unlike others, not sure the smaller field will make a difference. Shocked the field in the second-tier Sunland Derby with a big close so does have a punchers chance here. Still not a fan and don’t see hitting the board.
FILLING OUT THE FIELD
Multiplier (30/1): Won the Illinois Derby, which while it was a better field than recent years, is still not an endorsement. Does have two straight wins and has a stalking style, but go ahead and be my guest.
Term of Art (30/1): One thing about Doug O’Neill, he doesn’t quit trying to find a Triple Crown runner. This is the first time the horse has not run outside of California and there’s very little in the resume to give any shot here. The third in the San Felipe wasn’t a bad race, but the seventh in the weakest Santa Anita Derby we have seen in a while was a telling race.
Senior Investment (30/1): Did win the Grade III Lexington, but how strong was that field. He did all he could and got the connections a graded stakes win, but I am thinking his future lies as a middle stakes runner, not a graded event horse. His sixth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby is more indicative of what to expect against horses like these.