The 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes is this Saturday, and unlike the Kentucky Derby, this race will go to post with a considerable favorite. Always Dreaming is currently a 4/5 in most books after going off as high as 9/2 in the Kentucky Derby. What a difference a few weeks makes, right?
The value has eroded significantly, but does that mean we should be dreaming of a different pick? After all, the favorite has won ten of the last twenty Preakness races and finished second five other times. So, in 75% of the races for the last two decades the favorite has done no worse than place. There may not be a ton of value at four to five, but I’m not sure there is a ton of value in trying to get cute and outsmart the room either.
We had a decent Derby, whiffing on our value pick, Irish War Horse, but still having a profitable day with Always Dreaming on an Across the Board wager that paid out handsomely. Let’s see if we can make those profits multiply with some Preakness success tomorrow.
142nd PREAKNESS STAKES PREVIEW:
The Favorite: Always Dreaming: 4/5 – Always Dreaming was impressive in thundering down the stretch to win a crowded and sloppy Kentucky Derby. His 2:03.59 time was one of the slowest Derby winning times in quite a while, but again, the muddy sloppy track slowed down the field. This is still an excellent horse, though likely not an all-time great. However, at this price, he is presented as legit Triple Crown candidate.
Always Dreaming hasn’t lost in 2017, winning the Derby and the Florida Derby before it and is the top-graded horse by a substantial margin on Horse Racing Nation at 8.70. The next closest it Classic Empire at 8.40 and all subsequent horses fall below seven.
The odds don’t lie. Everything is stacked in favor of Todd Pletcher getting a good look at a Triple Crown at Belmont in three weeks. It might be a boring pick, but I am going with the sharps on this one and staying with history, which has been very kind to Derby champs at the Preakness.
Contenders: Classic Empire: 3/1 – Classic Empire opened as the Kentucky Derby and faded a bit before post time. Probably a good thing, as his performance was a disappointing fourth place. There is something alluring about getting an Arkansas Derby winner at +400, but I am going to stay away from this familiar name and trust what we saw at the Derby as a more accurate predictor in the Preakness.
Long Shot: Conquest Mo Money: 16/1 – They say style makes fights. Well pace makes races. And as mentioned above, without another early-starter aside from the favorite Always Dreaming, the pace of the race could really favor Conquest Mo Money and get him into a winning trifecta position. I like the value at +1600 as a nice way to goose up the profits on some more exotic wagers.
He took second at the Arkansas Derby, behind Classic Empire and ahead of Looking at Lee, and won the Mine That Bird Derby, beating out Kentucky Derby participant Irap. This son of Uncle Mo has good speed out of the gate and should be able to stay on leader pace in the beginning of the race. Will he have enough speed to hold off some of the middle chargers like Classic Empire? He wasn’t able to in the Arkansas Derby, but should be a fresher horse having not raced since the April 15th Arkansas Derby.
There is some decent value in a horse that can get out in front early without a ton of speedy closers charge in in behind him. I like the upside on Conquest Mo Money to beef up a trifecta ticket.
Other Horses to Consider: Looking at Lee (11/1) and Gunnevera (12/1) were both Kentucky Derby participants, with very different results. Looking at Lee was a VERY surprising second place finisher, while Gunnevera had a lot of late money shrink the line, but performed a disappointing seventh. I’m willing to overlook a bad day on a sloppy track on the speedy Gunnevera, and think he offers some nice value on a trifecta ticket or ATB wager.
WIN: Always Dreaming -110
ATB: Conquest Mo Money +1600
TRIFECTA: Always Dreaming, Conquest Mo Money, Gunnevera
Good luck everyone – and enjoy a fantastic race!
The Preakness Stakes airs on NBC Saturday, May 20th at 5pm