The field for the 2017 Preakness Stakes is finally set following Wednesday's draw for the 10 post positions.
Heavy favorite Always Dreaming will begin in the No. 4 gate, and his biggest challenger, Classic Empire, will start out of the No. 5 gate.
|2017 Preakness Stakes Post Positions|
|2||Cloud Computing (20-1)||4th|
|4||Always Dreaming (10-11)||2nd|
|5||Classic Empire (4-1)||1st|
|7||Term of Art (25-1)||9th|
|8||Senior Investment (25-1)||10th|
|9||Lookin At Lee (11-1)||6th|
|10||Conquest Mo Money (16-1)||3rd|
|Source: Preakness Stakes; OddsShark|
Always Dreaming and Classic Empire—two of the top contenders heading into the Kentucky Derby—had differing fortunes at Churchill Downs. The former remained near the top of the field for the entirety of the race, while the latter wasn't much of a threat and finished fourth after a late charge.
According to the Los Angeles Times' John Cherwa, Classic Empire made contact with McCraken shortly after coming out of the gate, and he never recovered. By the time he returned to the stable, his eye had swollen significantly.
"I don't honestly know how he finished fourth," trainer Mark Casse said. "And then to come back with his eye the way it was. It just seemed to make him more determined. He's fired up and ready."
Casse also welcomed the smaller field at the Preakness, saying there are "10 less horses to wipe you out."
Assuming Classic Empire's eye won't give him any trouble Saturday, he's a genuine threat to end Always Dreaming's Triple Crown bid in short order.
If recent history is any indicator, then the Preakness winner will at the very least have come from the Kentucky Derby field. The short turnaround time between the two races hasn't been much of an issue of late.
Rachel Alexandra is the last Preakness winner (in 2009) who didn't register for the Run for the Roses. And even then, she ran in the Kentucky Oaks, which is essentially the same as the Kentucky Derby from a time perspective.
Should the trend hold, the quintet of Conquest Mo Money, Term of Art, Senior Investment, Multiplier and Cloud Computing will be out of luck this weekend. Considering none of the five has better than 16-1 odds, few will be expecting much from the group.
Of the five, Conquest Mo Money would be the most likely to play spoiler. He was runner-up at the Arkansas Derby and Sunland Derby.
Trainer Miguel Hernandez sees drawing the outside gate as a positive as well, according to The Blood-Horse's Jeremy Balan:
When it comes to picking a winner for the Preakness Stakes, looking past Classic Empire is difficult. Sure, he fell well short at the Kentucky Derby. As Casse argued, though, a fourth-place finish is quite impressive considering the circumstances.
If he's at full strength and the track doesn't turn into a mud pit again, Classic Empire has the speed to topple Always Dreaming.
Race odds are courtesy of OddsShark.