2017 Preakness Stakes Favorites, Dark Horses & Smart Betting Picks

Posted by Kenny Bell on Wednesday,May 17, 2017 10:28, EST in

The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the American thoroughbred racing Triple Crown held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. It is a Grade I race run over 1 3⁄16 miles on dirt and open to 3-year-olds. Not only is it a steppingstone to the Belmont Stakes and potential Triple Crown glory for Always Dreaming, it’s also an important Grade 1 race for any horse to win. Here’s a look at some key horses to follow on Saturday in the 142nd Preakness. The 2017 Preakness draw is Wednesday.

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Preakness Stakes Favorites, Dark Horses & Smart Betting Picks

Always Dreaming (-140)

The only horse with a chance to become the second Triple Crown winner in three years, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt was made the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby and then backed it up with an impressive performance at Churchill Downs. With back-to- back Grade 1 wins, including a Florida Derby win in his first stakes race, Always Dreaming will be the heavy favorite to head into the Belmont Stakes if he wins here. Always Dreaming’s aggressiveness means that he likes to stalk, or just flat out get in front. He’s got speed and he’s shown us that he can run tactically. At 1 3/16 miles, a football field shorter than the Derby’s 1¼ miles, the Preakness requires that everybody needs to get in position a little bit earlier. Always Dreaming excels at that. A total of 35 horses have won the Preakness after a Kentucky Derby victory. Just 12 went on to win the Belmont Stakes and sweep the Triple Crown.

Classic Empire (+250)

A victory in the Preakness would make Classic Empire only the eighth juvenile male champion to capture the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown since the Eclipse Awards were created in 1971. Of the seven others, four are Triple Crown winners: Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978) and American Pharoah (2015). Classic Empire endured a terrible trip in the Kentucky Derby, pinched well back after a chain reaction collision at the break and emerging from the race with swelling in his right eye. Classic Empire was in Post 14 and McCraken was breaking from the 15 – which is in the auxiliary gate. There was that little bit of extra space we talked about between those two positions. So because of the gap, McCraken had more room to run in on him, and Classic Empire took a harder blow than he would have had they been right next to each other in the same gate. It nearly knocked him down. It cost him a lot of position that he couldn’t make up in the stretch. Despite the circumstances, the Pioneerof the Nile colt managed to rally for fourth, beaten less than nine lengths.

Lookin at Lee (+1000)

Lookin At Lee got an ideal rail-skimming trip in the Kentucky Derby, saving ground while far back in the early stages before finding room around the far turn and surging past tiring horses to finish second at odds of 33-1, five lengths ahead of Battle of Midway. Looking At Lee is son of 2010 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky. There have been 10 Preakness winners who were sired (fathered) by a Preakness winner, including 2016 winner Exaggerator, by 2007 winner Curlin.

Conquest Mo Money (+2000)

The late-blooming son of Uncle Mo sat out the Derby. Conquest Mo Money didn’t run as a 2-year- old, but managed to make it to the Arkansas Derby, where he ran a game second to Classic Empire at 15-1, finishing ahead of Lookin At Lee. He’s the ultimate outsider in this race. His only stakes win came in the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico. A horse from New Mexico conquered the run for the roses eight years ago when Mine That Bird delivered a stunning victory at 50.60-to- 1 at Churchill Downs. But he also may have run just as well two weeks later in a second-place finish in the Preakness, his rally coming just a length short of the wire-to- wire filly sensation Rachel Alexandra. Mine That Bird’s trainer, Chip Woolley, has watched Conquest Mo Money closely and thinks his talent and running style will make for a dangerous combination in the Preakness. “He should be at or on the lead, and I would not be surprised if he runs a big race Saturday,” Woolley said.

2017 Preakness Stakes Betting Prediction

Classic Empire to win, Always Dreaming to show, Conquest Mo Money to place.