If you hit on 20, you’re an idiot. Even if you pull a miracle ace out of the deck, you’re still an idiot.
Because even if it works out in the end, the wrong decision is still the wrong decision. And sometimes, on the flip side, even when it doesn’t work out in the end, the right decision can still be the right decision.
Like the decision I made in this column two weeks ago.
- Multiplier – 30/1: If you go by the speed figures, this Illinois Derby winner has run the biggest 2017 race of any colt in this field. For that, you have to give him some respect – some. He wasn’t running against anyone of even the slightest bit of consequence in that race, and though he’s never finished worse than third, I think the lack of competition carries more weight than anything else. He’s better than 30/1, but he’s not that much better.
- Cloud Computing – 12/1: Like you respect Multiplier’s speed figure, you also respect Cloud Computing’s connections – the jockey-trainer combination of Javier Castellano and Chad Brown is proven and well worth consideration – but you also need to note that he’s only ever run at Aqueduct and comes in with only a maiden win. He’ll be well-positioned, but I think he’s likely a class below some others.
- Hence – 20/1: This colt could be dangerous with some speed in the race, but he won’t get it on Saturday.
- Always Dreaming – 4/5: You weren’t hitting on 20 if you bet Always Dreaming in the Kentucky Derby. It was more like hitting on 14 when the dealer is showing 12. It may work out – and it did – but it may not be the correct decision. Plenty of handicappers will disagree with me, but I didn’t think Always Dreaming was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby, and I don’t think he’s the best horse in the Preakness. Two weeks ago, this colt had a perfect trip – riding a golden rail for key portions of the race, and clear of any traffic near the front of a pace that relaxed throughout its middle fractions. He’ll get the same trip this time around, but the competition that languished behind him in Kentucky won’t have the same trouble in Maryland – and will give him trouble, instead. There’s no doubt this winner of four straight could win, but I’m playing against him.
- Classic Empire – 3/1: In a love song only John Mayer could write, the guitarist sings this perfectly smug line: “You’re not the perfect hand, but I don’t hit on 19.” Classic Empire is the horse racing version of that line. He’s not perfect, but I thought he was best going into the Kentucky Derby, and I think he’s the right decision here. He was squeezed at the start last time out, forced out of his favored running style, and bounced around throughout the race – including in the middle of his stretch run, the only horse gaining ground on the outside. With a half-sized field and a slow pace expected, this colt will get a much better trip this time, and will hit the top of the stretch ready to show his class – to show the versatility and turn of foot that helped him with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and made him the morning line favorite two weeks ago, improving off a layoff and interrupted training.
- Gunnevera – 15/1: Gunnevera is a closer. Closers want speed. There isn’t any speed in this race.
- Term of Art – 30/1: Term of art is a closer. Closers want speed. There isn’t any speed in this race.
- Senior Investment – 30/1: Senior Investment is a closer. Closers want speed. There isn’t speed any in this race.
- Lookin At Lee – 10/1: Lookin At Lee is a closer. Closers want speed. There isn’t any in this race – though there wasn’t any in his last two starts, either, and still the product of Steve Asmussen’s barn came running at the end. He had the benefit of a perfect trip in the Derby, but I’d expect him to figure in exotics.
- Conquest Mo Money – 15/1: If you believe that pace makes the race – I do – then you should believe in this colt. I do. In five starts, he’s never finished worse than second, and figures to be near the front of the slow, easy pace. He’ll have plenty left in the tank as the field turns for home.
Out of the gate, expect Conquest Mo Money to take the lead, followed closely by Always Dreaming and Classic Empire – with Lookin At Lee in last, but with only a handful of lengths separating the full field. Little will change into and around the first turn and even down the backstretch – with Conquest Mo Money continuing to lead that slow pace. Into and around the second turn, Always Dreaming will challenge and overtake the leader, and Lookin At Lee will begin a long, unwinding run from the back. At the top of the stretch, it will be Always Dreaming taking a clear lead, but Classic Empire will be the one making noise. He’ll come up quickly on the new leader and in deep stretch, he’ll pull even and move away from the Derby winner. At the wire, it will be the Arkansas Derby winner, not the Kentucky Derby winner, getting the win. Always Dreaming will follow in second, with Conquest Mo Money in third, and Lookin At Lee following in fourth.
BETS: 5-4-10-9 Exacta and Trifecta boxes, with some exposure to 1 depending on the odds
Author: Joseph White
Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at Joe@noticketsports.com.