Following a Kentucky Derby featuring multiple notable contenders, the Preakness Stakes odds project a two-horse race.
According to OddsShark, Derby winner Always Dreaming is a runaway favorite to continue his Triple Crown quest at Pimlico Race Course. Classic Empire has ample breathing room in the second spot over Run for the Roses runner-up Lookin at Lee and an assortment of long shots.
Many of those underdogs enter Saturday night's race with more uncertainty after not competing at Churchill Downs. The others who participated damaged their stock with uninspiring finishes.
Let's dive deep down the Preakness field to see if any dark horses shine as a worthy gamble.
Preakness Stakes Post Positions and 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
1. Always Dreaming
2. Classic Empire
3. Conquest Mo Money
Any Worthwhile Underdogs?
When running through the 10 Preakness participants, Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form identified a lack of opening speed among a group of closers. He wrote off six of them—Multiplier, Hence, Gunnevera, Term of Art, Senior Investment and Lookin at Lee—for not possessing enough of an early pace to prevail.
His conclusion: Always Dreaming is in good shape to win the 9.5-furlong run on Pimlico's dirt track.
"Put everything together, and there's something like a 75 percent chance that the pace comes up average to slow," Hersh wrote. "Advantage: front-enders, and for the Derby winner, perhaps the race shape about which his connections have always been dreaming.
Fox Sports' Barry Werner also offered some bleak assessments. He called Senior Investment—who won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes to qualify after placing sixth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby—"way over his head." Fellow long shot Term of Art received an even harsher outlook.
"There isn't much to suggest he will be close or competitive in this race," Werner wrote. "Everyone gets to take their shot. That's about the only reason he's in the starting gate."
Gunnevera and Hence both get a second chance after finishing seventh and 11th, respectively, in the Derby. Hence, a trendy pick two weeks ago, has one Grade 3 win on his underwhelming resume. Werner thus referred to him as "a long shot, at best."
Gunnevera at least won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes in March. Jockey Mike Smith will take his saddles from Javier Castellano, who will instead ride Cloud Computing. Smith has six top-three Preakness finishes but hasn't led a winner since Prairie Bayou in 1993.
Outside of the chalk favorites, Cloud Computing and Conquest Mo Money carry the most intrigue. The former has the look of this race's "wise-guy" horse.
Conquest Mo Money has fallen short to upcoming adversaries Hence and Classic Empire in a string of runner-up outcomes, but he has never finished below second. His trainer, Miguel Hernandez, liked what he saw from his horse on Friday morning, per Daily Racing Form's Jim Dunleavy:
Jim Dunleavy @DRFDunleavy
Miguel Hernandez, trainer of Conquest Mo Money, "Just look how strong he is." Hernandez quietly confident about @PreaknessStakes @PimlicoRC2017-5-19 12:08:19
Sneaking into third behind Always Dreaming and Classic Empire might be the best-case scenario. For those dubious of a repeat performance from Lookin at Lee, Conquest makes the best contrarian pick.