Of the two races that form the second and third legs of thoroughbred racing’s fabled Triple Crown, the upcoming Preakness Stakes holds one advantage over the later Belmont Stakes: Urgency.
The field of 20 horses that ran the Kentucky Derby two weeks back has been halved, and with a shot at Triple Crown glory secured, champion Always Dreaming will take center stage.
The oddsmakers at online sportsbook Bovada think he and jockey John Velazquez will take first place as well.
Always Dreaming (-125) has been installed as the heavy favorite, offering less than even money in fact, with only one day before the 142nd running of the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.”
The Todd Pletcher-trained thoroughbred has excelled since ascending to Grade 1 competition, dominating the Florida Derby in April by five lengths in his first elite-level race, before taking a wet and muddy Kentucky Derby by 2 ¾ lengths.
Classic Empire and jockey Julien Laparoux were actually listed by Bovada as narrow favorites ahead of the “Run for the Roses” – just ahead of Always Dreaming – but trainer Mark Casse and crew were forced to suffer through a fourth-place finish after an early bump by McCraken in the next lane.
As Casse told assembled media after the disappointing finish, track conditions and gate placement – both non-issues for the Preakness Stakes – led to Classic Empire’s lackluster race:
“We got wiped out at the start. That’s the problem with the auxiliary gate. … Classic Empire really got clobbered.
The track is impossible. Our horse ran extremely well, considering.”
The weather conditions at Pimlico will bring a balmy Baltimore spring, so Classic Empire shouldn’t face the same start-related issues that caused the early legs of the Kentucky Derby to go awry.
With one day to go until the Preakness Stakes, the roles have obviously been reversed, so Classic Empire (+300) comes in at second on the Bovada betting board.
Always Dreaming and Classic Empire are the only horses offering better than 10-1 odds, and racing from the fourth and fifth lanes, respectively, the rivals should see plenty of one another over the 9.5-furlong sprint.
The only horse to give Always Dreaming a run for his money at the Kentucky Derby was Lookin’ at Lee, who posted a late charge under jockey Corey Lanerie to finish in second place.
Accordingly, Bovada has Lookin’ At Lee (+1000) in third on its board, but the wide gap between him and Classic Empire in second suggests the winner’s circle is hard to find. The results back that up, as Lookin’ At Lee hasn’t recorded a first-place finish since August of last year – with seven non-wins in the interim.
Lookin’ At Lee can’t seem to get over the hump against Classic Empire either, recording a third-place run in the Arkansas Derby in April while his rival won, along with third- and fourth-place results in Breeders’ Cup races when Classic Empire crossed first.
The longshot category is occupied by no less than three horses, as Multiplier under jockey Joel Rosario, Term of Art under Jose Ortiz, and Senior Investment under Channing Hill are all tabbed as +3000 underdogs.
2017 Preakness Stakes Winner Odds at Bovada
|Pole Position||Horse (Jockey)||Preakness Stakes Odds|
|1||Multiplier (Joel Rosario)||+3000|
|2||Cloud Computing (Jose Castellano)||+1200|
|3||Hence (Florent Geroux)||+2000|
|4||Always Dreaming (John Velazquez)||-125|
|5||Classic Empire (Julien Laparoux)||+300|
|6||Gunnevera (Mike Smith)||+1500|
|7||Term of Art (Jose Ortiz)||+3000|
|8||Senior Investment (Channing Hill)||+3000|
|9||Lookin’ At Lee (Corey Lanerie)||+1000|
|10||Conquest Mo’ Money (Jorge Carreno)||+1500|