2017 Preakness Stakes: This Capper Doesn't Like Derby Repeat

David Schwab

Friday, May 19, 2017 5:54 PM UTC

Friday, May. 19, 2017 5:54 PM UTC

The field for the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday features nine horses taking aim at toppling Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

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While it appears that four of those other 19 contenders who ran in this year’s Kentucky Derby will try their luck again to win this race, there are five new faces in the mix making their 2017 Triple Crown racing series debut Saturday at the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. This should make for an interesting race in Saturday’s main event at Pimlico.

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2017 Preakness Stakes

The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown for the top 3-year-old thoroughbreds in the world, and the total prize purse for the 142nd running of this major graded event has been set at $1.5 million. It will be contested on the dirt at Pimlico over a distance of 1 3/16 miles.

While I was pretty far off the mark in the Kentucky Derby with Irish War Cry as my top pick followed by Classic Empire and Girvin in my official trifecta pick, I am not giving up on the champion 2-year-old to make his mark in his 3-year-old campaign. Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Empire is my top pick to win the Preakness as the +300 second-favorite.

This Kentucky-bred colt was impressive as a juvenile in his victories in both the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes at Keeneland followed by the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that earned him 2-year-old championship status. His biggest victory this season was in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park before finishing fourth at Churchill two weeks ago. A poor start out of the gate buried him the pack, but this son of Pioneerof the Nile still managed to finish just outside the money.

What Always Dreaming might lack in racing experience, he more than makes up for in his performance in major graded stakes events. Racing in just two Maiden Special Weight events as a juvenile and an Allowance race in early March of his 3-year-old campaign, this Kentucky-bred colt took everyone by storm with his victory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at a time of 1:47.47 on the dirt at Gulfstream over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, he had no issue handling the added distance of 1 ¼ miles on the sloppy track at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby. 

A pedigree of Bodemeister, Always Dreaming comes into this race with the highest Horse Racing Nation rating in the field at 8.70, but on the wide-open track at Pimlico, I have him coming up just short at -125 odds in his bid to win the second jewel in the Triple Crown.

When it came to picking a horse to round out my trifecta pick for the Preakness, I turned to the well-rested Conquest Mo Money as my choice to show. Following his solid second-place finish in this year’s Arkansas Derby, this New York-bred's handlers, along with trainer Miguel Hernandez, decided to hold him out of the Kentucky Derby to focus on winning this race. Look for jockey Jorge Carreno to get the ride on Saturday to try and make this decision pay off.

After remaining idle as a juvenile, this son of Uncle Mo has been able to finish in the money in all four stakes races he has run this year. His biggest victory this season came in the ungraded Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park on Feb. 26 over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.

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