We are fast approaching the 2017 Preakness Stakes and it’s time to give out my predictions on the race. The 142nd running of the Preakness at Pimlico is scheduled for Saturday, May 20.
All eyes will be on Always Dreaming, who defeated Lookin at Lee by 2 3/4 lengths to win the Kentucky Derby. Does this horse have what it takes to win the Triple Crown? A feat accomplished by American Pharoah in 2015 for the first time since 1978.
We don’t typically see a ton of the top horses outside of the winner that raced in the Derby make the trip to Baltimore. Owners and trainers would rather save them up for the Belmont Stakes, instead of running them out on the short two weeks of rest. With that said, there are five horses who decided to give it a go this year, including 3 of the top 4 from Churchill Downs.
Expert Handicapper 2017 Preakness Stakes Predictions: Win/Place/Show
Win: Always Dreaming (10/11)
Yes, I’m taking the obvious pick here with Always Dreaming to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. You don’t want to get in the habit of only betting the favorite, but it’s been a smart play at this event. Three of the last five winners of the Derby have followed up by winning the Preakness. The worst finish of the two that didn’t take the crown was 4th (Orb in 2013).
I know the conditions weren’t ideal and he avoided the chaos at the start, but this horse made easy work of the field at Churchill Downs. His performance was textbook. He got out to a great start, using his speed out of the gate to avoid getting hit. He nested up behind the pace setter State of Honor, before he took over. Multiple horses tried closing the gap and challenging him down the stretch, but he was having none of it. Winning by a final margin of 2 3/4 lengths. With a shorter track and weaker field, I just don’t see this horse failing to deliver.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has never won this race, but I’m not letting that keep me from taking the favorite. He’s only sent eight horses here, so it’s not like he’s failed miserably. The 7-time top trainer in the country has the horse to put that drought to rest.
Place: Classic Empire (4/1)
I expect to see a decent amount of money being placed on Classic Empire to not only finish in the Top 3, but to win this race. He suffered a tough break at the Derby, getting hit basically right out of the gate by MacCraken. That’s extremely difficult to prepare for and you never know how a horse will react. While it likely kept him from being a serious threat to win, he did manage to recover and finish 4th. That says a lot about this horse’s drive to win and his ability.
With a much smaller field at Pimlico, we shouldn’t see any funny business out of the gate on Saturday. I believe that’s the only thing that could keep him out of the Top 3 and I wouldn’t be shocked if he won the race.
Show: Cloud Computing (20/1)
After going chalk with first and second, I’m going to take a gamble on a horse that could have run in the Derby if he wanted. Cloud Computing had enough points to make the trip to Kentucky, but decided it was in his best interest to sit it out. Hard to argue with them given the poor conditions that were expected at Churchill Downs and his lack of experience. He didn’t even debut until February of this year.
The big thing is the horse has the talent to do something only three other horses can claim since 1983. That’s win the Preakness after not running in the Derby. I just like the upside here with this horse in what I feel will be a wide open race for 3rd behind the two big favorites.
* While this is the exact order I expect to see the race play out. I will be placing a $2 trifecta box just to be safe. For those of you who are wanting to play a superfecta, I’m predicting Lookin at Lee to come in 4th.