Saturday, May 20, 2017

Preakness Stakes 2017

Pimlico  - May 20, 2016
Race 13 - 6:48 PM
Preakness Stakes.   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,500,000
Distance - One And Three Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 - Multiplier
2 - Cloud Computing
3 - Hence
4 - Always Dreaming
5 - Classic Empire
6 - Gunnevera
7 - Term of Art
8 - Senior Investment
9 - Lookin At Lee
10 - Conquest Mo Money

For anyone who missed #4 Always Dreaming”s victory in the Kentucky Derby see the video below.

Kentucky Derby:

#4 Always Dreaming is the significant favorite in the Preakness and he certainly has earned that distinction. So far this horse has shown that he does everything well – he runs in the mud well, he handles traffic well, he closes like lightning and he’s a very disciplined competitor.  From what I’ve seen I think there’s only three things that can beat Always Dreaming.

1st  Exhaustion – he could come out flat after only two weeks rest – two weeks is an unusual task for these horses and Always Dreaming, Hence, Classic Empire, Gunnevera and Looking at Lee are all coming off of a short rest.

The Empire Strikes Back?!?!
It's like you see the horrible joke
coming from a mile away, but
you can't do anything about it.
2nd Injury – and I for one hope no one gets hurt in these races. It still pisses me off A LOT remembering that people actually cheered when Barbaro stopped racing because of an eventual life ending injury....yeah people were applauding.

3rdClassic Empire…..aka The Empire Strikes Back!

#5 Classic Empire will likely be the 2nd favorite in the Preakness and, in my opinion, also well deserved. Classic Empire finished a disappointing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, but I’d throw that race away. Classic Empire got squeezed coming out of the gate and pushed into the center of the field – there was also some shifting among horses behind Always Dreaming as they came home causing unusual traffic – and the mud didn’t help Classic Empire either.

Classic Empire *may be the better horse – I don’t think he is – but that’s what we’ll find out in the Preakness.

Image result for empire strikes back
I just assume NBC is going to abuse this idea
A look at the rest of the field:

#1 Multiplier – He’s going off at about 30-1….but here are a few things to consider – he won his last race, and he won it on the rail – so his post position could be perfect for him. He likes to stay in the middle of the pack – which should place him in an area of the field where he has room to maneuver.

Multiplier has had more rest (28 days) – and from what I saw he was FEARLESS in the Illinois Derby. If the quick turnaround has exhausted Classic Empire and Always Dreaming……Multiplier could make things interesting.

#2 Cloud Computing – has 1 win in 3 races – and he faded hard at a mile and 1/8th…….Cloud Computing is an amazing technology, but an average horse.

Related image
Speaking of Cloud Computing and the Empire Strikes Back -- Cloud City Everybody!
This made me anxious as a child....I mean what's holding this City up?
And what's below all of these clouds that we need to live above...but not on
So many questions.

#3 Hence – I like Hence – but he has 2 wins in 7 attempts and finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby. He’s a Deep Closer…..but he’ll need a lot of help to win this one  -- he’s a possible 2nd or 3rd place, and maybe the mud was a factor in Kentucky…..but I think at best a 3rd place finish here.

#6 Gunnevera – finished 7th in the Kentucky Derby and has finished behind Always Dreaming in two straight races (Florida Derby)…..I think the Preakness will likely be the third time.

Gunnevera is a good horse, and he’s also a bit of a deep closer – if Classic Empire isn’t up for a big finish Gunnevera could steal 2nd place.

#7 Term of Art – he’s won 2 races out of a lifetime 9 --- he hasn’t race in 42 days and his last victory was around Thanksgiving….which is what the teller will be saying to you if you bet on this horse… know, Thanks (for) Giving us your money…….huh??? See what I did there……And, no I have no shame.

#8 Senior Investment – is fresh off of an impressive victory in the Lexington Stakes – he has a lifetime 3 wins in 8 attempts – a better look at this horse is likely his 6th place finish in the Louisiana Derby.

He closes very well, but he would need a LOT of help to pull off a victory – I honestly believe he could be more of a traffic issue for Classic Empire more than anything else.

#9 Lookin At Lee – finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby – and he’s going off with 2 wins in 10 attempts. Looking at Lee really impressed me in the Kentucky Derby – and he’s currently the third favorite at 10-1. I just don’t see this horse beating Always Dreaming and/or Classic Empire – BUT Lookin At Lee is just talented enough to pull off another 2nd place finish in this one…’s possible.

#10 Conquest Mo Money – A LOT of buzz has been made about Conquest Mo Money entering the Preakness – he did NOT run in the Kentucky Derby, however he has 3 wins in 5 attempts --  including a 2nd place finish in the Arkansas Derby behind Classic Empire.

Mo Money comes in Mo’ Rested and could certainly pull off an upset if the Kentucky Derby horses are gassed for this one.

At 15-1 he has my attention…..however in the Arkansas Derby he looked like he began to fade at the mile marker…..and while he may have built stamina more….I just don’t know that he has that last 3/16 of a mile in him.

Related image
Apparently the Preakness is also Movie Night for my blog.
Here’s how I see the race unfolding:

Always Dreaming will come out of the gate clean, take the rail and take the early lead – Conquest Mo Money will cross over and attempt to stalk Always Dreaming….or possible push the early tempo.

If Conquest Mo Money and Always Dreaming hit the quarter mile in the high 21 or low 22 that could be good news for the late closers who will be hoping that a hot early pace will tire these two horses out.

From what I’ve seen Always Dreaming will run “his” race – he’ll be at the quarter mile in the high 22’s or low to mid 23 and really pay Mo Money – No Mind….which is also the title to my second Rap Album.

A horse like Cloud Computing or Term of Art “might” try and run with the big boys at the front of the pack….that won’t last long.

Lookin At Lee and Multiplier will likely be just off that pace and Hence, Senior Investment, Gunnevera and Classic Empire will likely be several lengths back for most of the race.

Midway in the final turn – we’ll start to see movement in the back of the pack – For Classic Empire a lot of his success will be determined on what kind of position he has made for himself coming out of the final turn……there could be a lot of traffic with the deep closers and also some fading horses in the way.

Conquest Mo Money and Always Dreaming are going to be “asked” for another gear… guess is that Always Dreaming will go into his jaw dropping final gear and Mo Money will start to lose ground on the leader.

At this point it could come down to *if Classic Empire can make an incredible final burst and how much ground he’ll have to cover.

From what I have read and seen in the past – in a race like this when you have two strong favorites with two different racing styles – it’s wise to throw in a “longshot” to break up the favorites.

I’m going to be bold and say it’s Multiplier

Closing Speed likes:  Always Dreaming / Multiplier / Classic Empire

**I’m not crazy about betting on this race, because I think the favorites are going to do well  -- but here are some ideas.

If I’m betting $32 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box: 1,4,5,9 = $24  
(we might catch a break and get a decent longshot in second)

$1 Exacta Box: 4,5 with 1,6,9,10 = $8

Friday, May 5, 2017

Kentucky Derby 2017

Churchhill Downs – May 6, 2017
Race 12 - 6:46 PM (EST)
Kentucky Derby (Grade I)
Purse - $2,000,000
Distance - One And One Quarter Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 –  Lookin at Lee
2 – Thunder Snow                                                          
3 - Fast and Accurate                    
4 - Untrapped                                                  
5  - Always Dreaming
6 - State of Honor
7 - Girvin
8 - Hence
9 - Irap
10 - Gunnevera                                  
11 – Battle of Midway
12 – Sonneteer
13 – J Boys Echo
14 – Classic Empire
15 – McCraken
16 – Tapwrit
17 – Irish War Cry
18 – Gomley
19 – Practical Joke
20 – Patch
It’s going to be a curious Kentucky Derby this year (ESPECIALLY if it rains) – I believe the Best horse of this group is #17 Irish War Cry – I believe the most talented horse of this group is #14 Classic Empire – and I believe there’s a very good chance neither of them will win the Kentucky Derby…….if you just want my picks go to the bottom  -- here’s how I see the field.

#1 Lookin at Lee – much like his sire Lookin at Lucky I think he’ll get buried along the rail and won’t be able to escape the traffic – Lookin at Lucky managed to finish 6th in the KY Derby and then Won the Preakness – but I don’t think his son has as much talent.

#2 Thunder Snow – In the UAE Derby he broke from the 10th spot and managed to be a pace setter – he finished with plenty of endurance……IF this horse isn’t jet lagged from the trip from the Middle East he would be a very real threat in this race – however I’ve never seen a UAE Winner acclimate in time to make a solid run at the roses…….he’s worth a $2 insurance bet….but history tells me he’ll come out flat.

#3 Fast and Accurate was the Spiral Stakes winner – it was a very solid last outing – however this horse is facing a much better level of talent than the groups he’s won against.

He just couldn't wait to write
Don't Sleep on Always Dreaming
#4 Untrapped – 1 win in 6 races – (6th in the Arkansas Derby)

#5 Always Dreaming – Winner of the Florida Derby, and the 5/1 horse I think will steal the Kentucky Derby. This horse was Grand Sired by Empire Maker and sired by Bodemeister – Empire Maker Grand Sired Grand Slam winner American Pharoah – and Bodemeister finished 2nd in the KY Derby and Preakness in 2012. Don’t SLEEP on Always Dreaming.

**When I began writing this - Always Dreaming wasn’t the favorite – now he is….so, so much for “stealing” the KY Derby.

Florida Derby (Below) – also racing (#6 State Of Honor, #10 Gunnevera)

#7 Girvin – Louisiana Derby Winner, and he’s won 3 out of 4 lifetime races – and he is an absolute STEAL at 21/1……however his racing style isn’t great for this Kentucky Derby. With a enough help this horse could shock the world, but I just don’t think he’s going to get enough help. Could end up in the top 3.

#8 Hence – Sunland Derby Winner -- and Hence scares the HELL out of me. He’s only won 2 out of 6 races, he hasn’t raced against quality talent – and he hasn’t raced in 41 days – however he has great closing ability, and he has the perfect starting position to set himself up for a quality trip. At 15/1 he’s another steal – I just don’t know if he has the talent or the seasoning –would love to have seen one more race out of him.

#9 Irap – 1 victory in 8 attempts and it was his last race The Blue Grass Stakes. I’m not a big fan of the Blue Grass Stakes as a Prep Race – Irap has talent, but I just don’t think he has enough to pull off a victory here.

I don’t like the Blue Grass Stakes as an indicator for the Kentucky Derby – that particular race has a strange history of Great horses running poorly and often being beaten by lesser opponents – to me it’s a throw away race –

However the Blue Grass Stakes also involved:
#19 Practical Joke (2nd)
#15 McCraken (3rd)
#13 J Boys Echo (4th)
#16 Tapwrit (5th)

Let’s move ahead to:

#14 Classic Empire – (also Grand Sired by Empire Maker – but Sired By Pioneer of the Nile – Pappa to American Pharoah) will likely be the favorite in this race.  The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Champion has won 5 out of 7 races.

The two horses who defeated him are – Irish War Cry (Holy Bull Stakes) and Practical Joker (Hopeful Stakes) – however there’s MORE to the story of why, or how he was defeated.

Classic Empire – has Experience, Undisputed Talent, Amazing Closing Speed and…..well, he’s also been described as a “bit of a nut”.

Per the Daily Racing Forum:

His behavior in training first became unpredictable almost a year ago. In the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last summer, a race in which he was favored, Classic Empire pulled a stunt rarely seen on the racetrack, doing a U-turn a few strides into the race and coming to a dead stop after throwing his rider to the Saratoga dirt – Winner Practical Joker.

Also: “Everyone wants to make him out to be this bad boy, but he’s not,” Mark Casse said. “That’s not him. Now, he does see things that others don’t see, but that doesn’t make him bad.”

Also he occasionally refuses to Workout….basically making him the Allen Iverson of Horse Racing.

Image result for allen iverson practice meme
Not a race.....not a RACE - We're talking about Practice?
 His loss in the Holy Bull is attributed to an Abscess on his Hoof – which considering his strong Arkansas Derby makes sense.

See Arkansas Derby also racing – (#1 Lookin At Lee, #4 Untrapped, and #12 Sonneteer)

Classic Empire “could” be both the Wild Card and Favorite of the Kentucky Derby….let that sink in.

#15 McCraken – has won 4 out of 5 lifetime races – his only loss was at the Blue Grass Stakes (which again I’m tossing aside) – He has talent, I really like that he’s just off of Classic Empire’s shoulder – it’s a good spot for him --  I just haven’t seen him win against the kind of quality in this race. He needs help, but he certainly could surprise – I don’t love his 5/1 odds here though.

#17 Irish War Cry – he’s also won 4 out of 5 lifetime races – he was sired by Curlin (one of my favorites of all time) and in my opinion, he “Should” be the horse to beat in this race……however that 1 loss…..that 1 loss has baffled many experts.

His one loss was a 7th place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes – this is at the same track (Gulfstream Park) where he defeated a gimpy Classic Empire just the race before.

Maybe it was just an off day….you just hate to bet big on a horse that has had that “OFF” of a day.

Also every time I see this horse's name I start singing.....IN THE NAME -- OF LOVE!!! 

Image result for u2 singing
I'm sure I do not look as cool as Bono when singing it.....or as on key

#18 Gormley – is the Santa Anita Derby Winner – he has solid Closing Speed - -The Santa Anita Derby has produced 2 out of the last 5 Kentucky Derby Winners.  And he is lifetime 4 wins out of 6 races.

He’s currently going off at 26/1 – and he’s definitely a horse that could also shock the world with a little help.

#19 Practical Joke – he’s going off at 31/1 – I think he has a solid chance of landing in the Top 3 – He hasn’t won a race since Oct. 2016 (3 wins / 6 attempts), however he’s also never finished worse than 3rd place – and he’s raced against the best horses in the field.

#20 Patch – He’s going to be “THE” Underdog story in this race – his post position is out in the parking lot AND he’s a One-Eyed Horse.  He has 1 victory in 3 attempts – he currently sits at 30-1 and while it would be the Feel good story – let me get my script to Disney -- History in the Making Kentucky Derby….I wouldn’t buy into the hype. At 50/1 I might be interested.

**Here’s how I see the race –

Lookin At Lee gets immediately buried on the rail – IF (and it’s a big IF) Thunder Snow is here to race I think he jumps out and sets the pace…..if this happens, nail biting will commence.

Always Dreaming (hopefully with a good jump at the gate) will join Thunder Snow at the top of the pack.

OR Thunder Snow will be dead tired and Always Dreaming will be on the Rail and in command of the early pace.

What I’m most curious about is WHERE Classic Empire will be when they hit the first turn? He may reserve himself and drop back towards the back half of the field --- I wouldn’t be surprised if McCraken and Irish War Cry do their best to stalk Classic Empire and keep him boxed in.

There is a chance that Classic Empire will fire off and attempt to run closer to the top of the field – if he does that McCraken and Irish War Cry will likely follow – but they won’t necessarily be able to box him into as much traffic.

There’s usually “some” horse that decides to go all LEEROY JENKINS and fire out of the gate at an unsustainable pace – usually ownership has seemingly decided that firing off fast and praying for miracle endurance is the only way they’ll win.  (I’m thinking Fast and Accurate, Battle of Midway, State of Honor or Irap).

Image result for leeroy jenkins meme

I’ll be looking for Girvin. Gomley, maybe Gunnevera and Hence to settle in somewhere in the middle of the field – all of these horses should be able to run “their race” – but they’ll likely need the Early Pace Setters to burn out and fade – and hope that Classic Empire is in traffic…….the same traffic they’ll need to avoid.

Coming out of the final turn – I see Always Dreaming in the lead, and hopefully picking up steam – at this point it will depend on who navigated traffic best – If Classic Empire gets daylight….and he’s not crazy…you know at the moment…..than I think he’ll have enough power to win.

However if he’s battling traffic – I like Always Dreaming for the win…..and a crazy finish for 2nd (Irish War Cry, Classic Empire, McCraken, Hence, Girvin, or Gomley) 

Closing Speed likes:  Always Dreaming, McCraken, Classic Empire, Irish War Cry

If I’m betting $34 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box: 5,14,17,18 = $24
$1 Exacta: 5, 14 with 2,7,8,10,15 = $10

Some Longshots -- (If there is rain - scratch the $34 bet – and I would consider betting $27 on Longshots – as follows)

$2 Win - #11 Battle of Midway – (Especially if it’s raining)
$5 Win - #18 Gormley – (If raining)
$5 Win - #19 Practical Joke (if raining)
$5 Win -   #7 Girvin – (if odds are higher than 20/1)
$10 Win - #10 Gunnevera – (if odds are higher than 15/1)