While OddsShark has established the Derby champion as the favorite, he is not necessarily going to roll to a victory in the Preakness Stakes. The competition is strong, and it is led by Classic Empire, the 3-1 second choice.
Classic Empire has something to prove at Pimlico Race Course. He had a troubled run at Churchill Downs, as he came out of the gate and immediately got slammed in a collision. That prevented Classic Empire from getting off to a decent start.
When a horse is competing in a field of 20, a clean start is essential. Classic Empire did not necessarily have to get to the lead early, but he needed to establish his own pace if he was going to have a chance to mount a late run that would result in a victory.
The collision straight out of the gate prevented that from happening. Classic Empire had to steady himself, and it took him quite a while to get up to top speed. He eventually did that and he ran quite well in the stretch, coming from far back to finish fourth.
Post Position, Horse, Odds
1, Multiplier, 40-1
2, Cloud Computing, 14-1
3, Hence, 20-1
4, Always Dreaming, 4-5
5, Classic Empire, 3-1
6, Gunnevera, 16-1
7, Term of Art, 33-1
8, Senior Investment, 33-1
9, Lookin At Lee, 10-1
10, Conquest Mo Money, 18-1
The Preakness is a different kind of race than the Derby. This race includes a 10-horse field instead of the 20 runners that ran in Kentucky. That means there should not be the mad rush out of the gate that the competitors had to endure in the Derby.
Additionally, this is a shorter race at 1 3/16-miles, as opposed to the 1 1/4-miles in the Derby. That's just 1/16 of a mile shorter, but because Pimlico features sharper turns and a shorter home stretch, it can be difficult for horses to mount come-from-behind efforts in this race.
Versatility is the key, and that plays right into trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez's hands. They know Always Dreaming is capable of winning in a number of ways, including from off the pace or leading, and they also know their horse wants to run.
“He’s done great [at Pimlico],” Pletcher said, per Mike Dempsey of OddsShark. “He’s training forwardly, aggressively, manageably—everything we would like to see.”
Always Dreaming and Classic Empire appear to be the top two horses in the field, but the competition could be formidable.
Lookin at Lee was an outsider in the Kentucky Derby, but the long shot ran an impressive race and finished second. He may have liked the sloppy track, but the 10-1 shot has hit the board in seven of 10 lifetime races and he could be tough again.
Cloud Computing is the fourth choice at 14-1, and he is a lightly raced horse who has been to the post just three times in his career. He has hit the board in all three of those races and won once, and if he can get a clean ride, he could have a chance to pull off the upset.
Gunnevera was respected quite a bit before the Kentucky Derby, and he finished third after a strong rally. He is 16-1 in this race and has won four of his 10 lifetime starts to earn more than $1.1 million in his career.
Conquest Mo Money did not run in the Derby, and he has odds of 18-1 at this point. Conquest Mo Money has been to the winner's circle three times in five starts, and he finished second in his two other races. He is a game horse who has run hard every time out, and he should have a good chance of hitting the board in this race.
Hence, Term of Art, Senior Investment and Multiplier round out the field, and all of those horses have odds of 20-1 or higher. Trainer Ken McPeek's Senior Investment may be the most dangerous in that group. He has won three times in eight starts, and he is an excellent late runner.
If the Preakness has a fast pace, Senior Investment could come rolling down the stretch and cause problems for the favorites.