PREAKNESS STAKES 2017 PICKS
I’ll come right out and say it: I think Always Dreaming will win the 142nd Preakness Stakes and be a real threat for the Triple Crown. He is the most proven horse and this race is setting up nicely for him.
With that said, I think it’s going to come down to the wire and be a contest of wills between Always Dreaming and Classic Empire at that finish line.
I absolutely love Classic Empire’s chances and have been a fan of this horse since he was juvenile champion. His breeding (American Pharoah’s half-brother) and record speak for themselves. I also love how he recovered at the Kentucky Derby after being jostled, bumped, and swung out wide on a sloppy track to get into 4th place.
But, I think that “push-button accelerator” of Always Dreaming will fire as usual and give him the win. If it doesn’t, Classic Empire is our likely winner.
The Projected Set Up:
Conquest Mo Money likes to be in the lead or close to the lead. So, he will likely swing in from his far outside post (#10) and be the pace setter. Always Dreaming will either take the lead with Conquest or flank his side from the inside #4 post similar to the last 2 races he won (Florida Derby & Kentucky Derby).
Right behind them (or even right with them) should be Classic Empire. Lucky for his connections, he posted right next to Always Dreaming in #5, which will benefit him by keeping Dream super close. I think of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in Nov, when Classic Empire flanked the leader Syndergaard until about the half mile mark when he almost drew equal with the pace setter. At the ¾ mark, Classic Empire took the lead and never looked back.
The stalker Cloud Computing will be in the mix at the front with the leaders. Then of course, the rest of the pack trailing behind will be the closers.
At the turn, down the stretch, we should expect Jockey John Velazquez to ask Always Dreaming to go and as Classic Empire makes his move, Velazquez will engage that push-button accelerator.
However, if Always Dreaming doesn’t fire like we think he will and the well-rested Conquest Mo Money holds his speed to the end, Classic Empire could win this race with Conquest Mo Money right there. This would give the closers like Hence, Gunnevera and Looking at Lee a chance to race for the finish line.
Honorable Mentions (The Closers):
A lot of good buzz surrounds Cloud Computing. I don’t know much about him, but several handicappers seem to think he’s a good long shot and addition for the exotics since he is a presser/stalker and the pace will likely favor that style of racing.
Hence is also a colt mentioned in the long-shot mix but more of a stalker/closer. I was impressed with how he came from 2nd to last to win the Sunland Derby and beat out Conquest Mo Money. If the pace is fast and he hangs back, he’s a potential up setter.
I always have been a fan of the closer Gunnevera. I think if he’s going to have a chance in this one, he’s got to stay closer to the pace like Exaggerator did in last year’s Preakness. In the Derby, Gunnevera was not able to recover from his bad trip and didn’t fire down the stretch. With less traffic and a closer pace, will he finally fulfill his potential, or is he not peaking now?
As for Looking at Lee, he deserves respect after finishing 2nd in the Kentucky Derby from the #1 rail post position. He covered a lot of ground and came hard, which he always does. Again, if Always Dreaming doesn’t fire and/or the pace is so fast that the leaders tire, this horse has a good chance to be in the winner’s circle. But, usually, the Preakness doesn’t favor horses from far off the pace.
- Always Dreaming
- Classic Empire
- Conquest Mo Money
Source : Official Preakness Website
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