2017 Jim Dandy

Champs Stunned in 2017 Jim Dandy

The 2017 Jim Dandy was sold to fans as a showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing. For the first part of the exciting race, that’s how the whole thing played out with those two champions taking the field out early. What unfolded at Saratoga was completely unexpected.

Always Dreaming went out as the even money favorite and held the early lead, hitting and early quarter-mile fraction of :24.13. Cloud Computing was right on his tail in both the early stages of the 2017 Jim Dandy and the betting board as the 6/5 second choice. Right behind those two was Pavel, an 8/1 outside shot, and Giuseppe The Great who was a distant 14/1 on the board. Way in the back was Good Samaritan, another contender with an 8/1 mark, who seemed to be way outclassed early on.

Suddenly, as they rounded the final corner, the whole field bunched together and Good Samaritan hit a gear nobody knew he had to stream around the outside. The performance seemed to shrink Cloud Computing and Always Dreaming, who fell back right next to Pavel and Giuseppe The Great as the final four ended in a bunch. Good Samaritan won handedly in an absolute shocker.

The 2017 Jim Dandy Stakes was the first appearence on dirt for Good Samaritan, who had previously been tested as a turf runner with unfavorably inconsistent results. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he ran,” said trainer Bill Mott. “It was a terrific race for him. The pace was a little bit slower than I thought it would be. I was a little concerned when they were going down the middle of the backside and they hung up the slow fractions. I was a little concerned about that. They did start to pick it up leaving the half-mile pole. He ran into a very slow pace and ran well.”

This victory has now thrust Good Samaritan in to the thick of a very competitive three-year-old class that now includes 2017 Haskell winner Girvin, the three Triple Crown victors and a host of other colts entering the fray on route to the world championships. What Good Samaritan does with this new found momentum will be noted – hopefully – in the upcoming Travers Stakes which will have a stacked field.

 

Preakness Stakes Aftermath Part 2

Always Dreaming was the 6/5 pre-race favorite to win the 142nd annual Preakness Stakes. If he did, the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner would have had a shot to make history in his quest to become the 13th horse ever to win the Triple Crown. While Always Dreaming lead after three-quarters, he quickly faded away during the stretch run, and finished a distant eighth.

Trainer Todd Pletcher mentioned that Always Dreaming was healthy following the Preakness Stakes, but wasn’t sure what happened to make him fall to the back of the pack late in the race.

“He’s healthy and happy,” said Pletcher. “We’ll head back to Belmont … and regroup. When I spoke to the ownership after the race yesterday, we all decided we wouldn’t make a decision (regarding his next start) until we got him home and evaluated him. … Talking to (jockey John Velazquez) a little more, he was concerned down the backside, that he wasn’t taking him there the same way he was taking him there in the Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby (G1).

“Other than that, I don’t have a good explanation. He came back healthy and looks good. … The surface—I hate to use that as an excuse, because he’s run well over all kinds of different surfaces, (but) this one was a little bit different, because it was in that drying-out phase. But it wasn’t his day, I suppose.”

Senior Investment, who finished third in the Preakness Stakes, will run in the Belmont Stakes (G1).

“We just used this as a prep race,” joked trainer, Kenny McPeek. “We felt all along he wanted a mile and a half, but the Belmont is tougher than this sometimes, because the pace can be much slower. Does it suit him? He’s just going to keep coming. … We made a decision yesterday before the race, if he finishes fourth or better, he punches his ticket.”

Cloud Computing 2017 Preakness

Cloud Computing Upsets 2017 Preakness

The dream of a Triple Crown winner is over for this year. Cloud Computing stormed the backstretch of the 2017 Preakness Stakes to beat Classic Empire in a staggering upset. The 12/1 underdog bested the 2/1 second choice to finish with a time of 1:55.98, which happens to be the fastest time in five years.

Always Dreaming took the field out with a fantastic break from the gate, and dragged Classic Empire with him in to the first corner. Cloud Computing sat in third with 45/1 longshot Term of Art trailing in fourth. Nothing changed as Always Dreaming, a 6/5 favorite, ran out in front with Classic Empire shadowing him on the outside. The top-four remain unchanged for almost the entire race.

Everything changed drastically in the 2017 Preakness at the top of the final turn when Always Dreaming faded out of nowhere. He’d eventually finish eighth, but leave the door wide open for a surging Classic Empire who looked to have regained his championship form. The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner was well on pace, but Cloud Computing came on strong and managed to outwork his opponent to win by a neck.

At 12/1, Cloud Computing was worth a strong $28.80, $8.60 and $6.00 across the board. Classic Empire delivered $4.40 and $4.00 in second while Senior Investment was a big payday for whomever backed him at 30/1 with a $10.20 payout.

Trianer Chad Brown admitted that running Cloud Computing on a lengthy rest in the 2017 Preakness after he skipped the Kentucky Derby was part of the long-term strategy, despite the fact that this may upset racing fans. “I’m not going to dispute the fact that I brought in a fresh horse as part of our strategy,” Brown said. “Our horse is very talented, too. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are two outstanding horses and our strategy was, if we were going to ever beat them, let’s take them on two weeks’ rest when we have six, and it worked.”

As for Always Dreaming, it simply wasn’t his day. The three weeks he has to regroup for the Belmont Stakes may very well give him the recovery he needs to be a winner. But we’ll see. The 2017 Preakness may be a tad disappointing, but the Belmont could very well be a revenge song for Always Dreaming. It’s also apparent that Chad Brown thinks that the 1 1/2 mile distance would be too much for Cloud Computing. So there’s that.

 

 

2017 Preakness Stakes draw

Instant Action in 2017 Preakness Stakes Draw

No, “instant action” is not the name of one of the contenders from the 2017 Preakness Stakes draw. Instead it’s what can best describe the drama that will occur in the gates when Always Dreaming shacks up right next to Classic Empire to begin the race. They’re also – not surprisingly – the top two choices of the oddsmakers.

Always Dreaming will be the 4/5 favorite, a number that was delivered to him on Tuesday evening and didn’t change thanks to a favorable 2017 Preakness Stakes draw. Likewise, Classic Empire slotted in as the 3/1 second choice earlier this week and stayed that way after the posts were announced.

Lookin At Lee is probably the biggest benefactor of the 2017 Preakness Stakes draw after pulling the ninth gate. He will run as a strong 10/1 option on the board and try to prove that his runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby was no fluke.

Flanking him will be Conquest Mo Money, a new shooter to the Triple Crown who will start on the outside as a 15/1 outside shot.

The most curious decision was to make Cloud Computing a 12/1 third choice. I expect that to change. He finished third in the Wood Memorial and second in the Gotham but hasn’t run all that well. He’s getting even better odds than Gunnevera, who is a 15/1 longshot out of the sixth post.

The rest of the longshots include Multiplier, Hence, Term of Art and Senior Investment.

2017 Preakness Stakes Draw

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Multiplier Joel Rosario Brendan Walsh 30-1
2 Cloud Computing Javier Castellano Chad Brown 12-1
3 Hence Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 20-1
4 Always Dreaming John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 4-5
5 Classic Empire Julian Leparoux Mark Casse 3-1
6 Gunnevera Mike Smith Antonio Sano 15-1
7 Term of Art Jose Ortiz Doug O’Neill 30-1
8 Senior Investment Channing Hill Ken McPeek 30-1
9 Lookin At Lee Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 10-1
10 Conquest Mo Money Jorge Carreno Miguel Hernandez 15-1

2017 Preakness Stakes Horse Profile for Always Dreaming

Always Dreaming Career Statistics

Starts: 6

Wins: 4

Places: 1

Shows: 1

Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings: $2,224,800

Owner: Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Teresa Viola Racing Stables

Trainer: Todd Pletcherr

Jockey: John Velazquez

Pedigree: Bodemeister – Above Perfection, by In Excess

Recent Finish: 1st, Kentucky Derby, G1 (5/6/17)

Notable Wins: Kentucky Derby, Florida Derby, G1 (4/1/17)

Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby impressively running along the front end and finishing strong down the lane. Trainer Todd Pletcher is pleased with how the Bodemeister colt came out of the Derby, and he’ll be the clear favorite to win the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes.

Always Dreaming shipped to Pimlico early and Pletcher said his colt was “fired up” as he took to the track early this week and then galloped out smooth and strong to complete a 1 1/2 mile work.  Always Dreaming handled the Churchill Downs track well and then went on to an impressive 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby win. He’s the only horse in the Preakness field to win at 1 1/4 miles along with two races at 1 1/8 miles.

Always Dreaming has proven speed with push-button acceleration and versatility, and he has shown the ability to extend down the stretch in winning the Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby. Now Always Dreaming will have to hold off some new shooters and fresher horses in the Preakness, where the 1 3/16 miles will suit him just fine as he tries to make it 5-for-5 in 2017.

This year’s Preakness field appears to lack early speed. Always Dreaming and Conquest Mo Money are the two horses that should be on or near the lead, but neither has been on the early lead in any of their races. However without fast fractions or a head-to-head speed duel, the race should set up very well for Always Dreaming. Jockey John Velazquez should have plenty of horse left as they turn for home in the Preakness Stakes.

Always Dreaming Confirmed for Preakness Stakes

After winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby (G1), Always Dreaming will now begin preparations for the 142nd Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 20 in his quest of competing for the Triple Crown.

The invitation for Always Dreaming to compete in the Preakness Stakes was officially sent to Always Dreaming’s trainer Todd Pletcher by Maryland Jockey Club President/General Manager Sal Sinatra on the morning of Saturday, May 7.

“I congratulated him on winning the race and extended him the traditional invitation to the Preakness, which he accepted,” said Sinatra. “We are thrilled to have the Derby winner and he is excited about coming. He’s going into the Preakness barn and putting Always Dreaming in stall 40, which is historically reserved for the Derby winner. He said he wanted to keep the mojo going.”

Always Dreaming, who is owned by a tandem of St. Elias Stables, MeB Racing Stables, Siena Farm, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Brooklyn Boyz Stables, will arrive at Pimlico Race Course on May 9. He will be joined by fellow Preakness contender Royal Mo.

Other notable horses who might compete in the Preakness Stakes includes Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee and Classic Empire, if he is fully healed from a right eye issue. Girvin’s connections said they’ll consider the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (G1), while Gunnevera trainer Antonio Sano said a decision to run won’t be made until it’s discussed with majority owner Solomon Del-Valle.

One horse that likely won’t make the trip to Pimlico is Irish War Cry.

“I don’t see a lot of reason to go on to the Preakness at this point,” said Irish War Cry trainer Graham Motion. “He’s had a pretty good campaign this spring, so it’s likely we’ll skip that and make a plan to point for the Haskell (Invitational Stakes, G1).”

2017 Triple Crown Always Dreaming

Can Always Dreaming Win 2017 Triple Crown?

The lead-up to the 2017 Triple Crown was marred in mystery. No horse had a definitive edge over the other. Classic Empire held fast as the 4/1 favorite but had a rocky road along the derby trail. McCraken, Irish War Cry and many others rose to the challenge during the prep race season but never cemented themselves as a rock solid option. The only horse that seemed to be trending along the right path was Always Dreaming.

So when the 5/1 second choice in the derby was doing all the right things in the final week of prep prior to the first leg of the 2017 Triple Crown, I lobbied to back him. The bet paid off. Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby handedly and has now collected four straight victories by a combined winning margin of 23 1/2 lengths.

Always Dreaming’s only other stakes victory in his career was in the Florida Derby, a race he won easily while being hand ridden by John Velazquez. As my colleagues have written, Always Dreaming is already at Pimlico Racecourse and seems to be settling in quite nicely. “The race, I think, took nothing out of him. We’re happy. He bounced back almost immediately,” said Gina DePasquale, an assistant trainer to Todd Pletcher who has been part of his stable for over two decades.

People close to horse racing know that maintaining health is the most important element to winning all three legs, and the 2017 Triple Crown will be no different. California Chrome sort-of broke down by the time he arrived at the Belmont in 2014. Nyquist and Exaggerator just weren’t good enough amidst a competitive field. Others like I’ll Have Another and Big Brown have simply not been able to survive the gruelling challenge that the Triple Crown represents. Simply put, it’s not easy, which is one of the many reasons the trilogy is so special.

Two years ago, American Pharoah dazzled audiences around the world by stomping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont fields. It was a milestone accomplishment both for the horse, his connections and the sport itself since Affirmed was the last horse to win a Triple Crown in 1978. There was growing concern that the biggest achievement possible in this sport was now unattainable given how good breeding, training and preparation was getting across the board.

That brings us to the strength of the field in this year’s 2017 Triple Crown. It’s apparent that Always Dreaming is on another level. The fact that he enters the Preakness with so much positive energy flowing around him buoys the fact that he doesn’t have that many contenders to deal with outside of himself. As long as he shows up with his best effort, he should have no problem dispatching of his rivals. And that’s fine – nobody ever remembers who strong a field is for a Triple Crown.

That could be a bigger story given how weak the 2017 Triple Crown field feels, but the fact that we could be staring at yet another historic champion is an absolutely exciting development. It’s a story that we were frankly unsure of just a few days ago. A strong run in the Preakness could set up big numbers for the Belmont, which would ultimately lead to promising outputs for thoroughbred racing, its broadcasting partners and sportsbooks around the world.

Always Dreaming, you have our attention.

Always Dreaming Arrives at Pimlico for Preakness

Preakness Stakes Preparations begin for Derby Winner Always Dreaming

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming came out of the race well, and trainer Todd Pletcher is shipping him to Pimlico this morning in pursuit of Preakness victory for the second jewel of the Triple Crown. A group of what is locally known as “new shooters” will take their run at the Derby champ, along with some familiar foes from the Kentucky Derby.

Jockey John Velazquez, atop Always Dreaming #5, celebrates with trainer Todd Pletcher after winning the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

The early shipping is to provide a peaceful environment for the colt who proved a headstrong handful while training at Churchill Downs. The trainer has decided to give the champion almost two weeks to adjust to Pimlico. Pletcher said Always Dreaming will gallop daily at Pimlico rather than a harder, timed workout.

“Looking at what the options are, at Pimlico, there’s generally not a lot of horses training there,” Pletcher said Sunday following his Derby dream with Always Dreaming. “I think it will be a quiet environment, give us time to get him settled in and if we have to make any adjustments we’ll have time to do that.”

Always Dreaming ran through a wet and soggy track to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 3/4 lengths on Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their second victories in the race but their first together. Pletcher was excited and impressed with Always Dreaming’s Run for the Roses, and also impressed with how his Bodemeister colt came out of the race.

“So far I’ve been amazed at how well he came out of the race,” said Pletcher at Churchill Downs Monday morning before taking a scheduled flight to New York later in the day. “His energy level is great. He walked the shedrow with a purpose this morning, ate all his dinner last night. Really, really pleased with the way he’s come out of it so far.”

Pimlico officials said as many as three other Derby competitors are potentially in for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown — runner-up Lookin At Lee; Classic Empire, who finished fourth; and Gunnevera, who was seventh.

Plenty of “new shooters” will fire in the Preakness at Pimlico.  Among them: Royal Mo, who just missed drawing into the Derby field; Conquest Mo Money, second in the Arkansas Derby, Lexington Stakes winner Senior Investment; Illinois Derby winner Multiplier and Wood Memorial third Cloud Computing.

Irish trainer Aidan O”Brien has nominated two horses to the Preakness including Lancaster Bomber. That horse was second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, fourth in the UAE Derby on the Meydan dirt and a good fourth, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths by some excellent Irish, English and French 3-year-olds in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

 

Always Dreaming Connections had a Kentucky Derby Plan and it Paid Off

Always Dreaming’s connections had a plan when it came to how to prepare for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and it all went down according to plan when he won the 143rd running of the roses. According to trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo, they wanted Always Dreaming to peak in the Derby.

With only two races during his age-two campaign, everything had to go right leading up to the 2017 Derby, but most importantly, Always Dreaming had to execute. That’s easier said and done though, but Always Dreaming was up to the task.

First up was a maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs, and luckily John Velazquez, who rode Always Dreaming to Kentucky Derby glory, was in the area.

“We wanted him to go two turns, and he was ready to run,” said Pletcher. “On that particular day, Gulfstream had a seven-furlong race and a mile-and-an-eighth race. I didn’t want to run him a mile-an-eighth since he hadn’t run since August, and I didn’t really want to run him seven furlongs. Fortunately, Johnny had gone to OBS to ride for us and it worked out that he could be there the next day at Tampa. I said, ‘Hey, I think you’ll want to ride this horse.’ Everything just kind of fell into place.

“It was part of the plan that we had talked about, bringing him along instead of peaking too soon.”

Always Dreaming dominated the Tampa Bay assignment, winning by 11 and half lengths. Instead of racing in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) next, Always Dreaming’s connections decided an allowance race at Gulfstream to prepare for the Florida Derby (G1) would be better. They were right and Always Dreaming won that race by four lengths. Then the biggest test came next: the Florida Derby.

“The one thing that we wanted to do was have the horse peak [in the Kentucky Derby], not in the Florida Derby or not in the Fountain of Youth,” said Pletcher. “There was some risk with that plan. Because by not going in the Fountain of Youth, he had no [Derby qualifying] points at that stage of his career.

“But we felt like we were all comfortable taking our best shot at the Florida Derby as his only point‑eligible prep. And we all were comfortable with the fact that if something happened and he didn’t earn enough points, that we were willing to live with that decision.”

Always Dreaming would win the Florida Derby by five lengths and all that planning culminated in his eventual Kentucky Derby win.

Kentucky Derby One to Watch for Potential Preakness Winner

Favorites get Headlines, but Derby Winner Won’t be Best Bet in Preakness

The Kentucky Derby field is set and the post-position draw and morning line odds has Derby fans dreaming for their winner. Always Dreaming is getting plenty of play as the co-second choice at 5-1 with McCraken, while Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champioin and Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire (4-1) is the favorite to win the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.

Classic Empire will break from post No. 14. He’s a 3-time Grade I winner. Jockey Julien Leparoux is a 9-time Derby loser trying for his first Kentucky Derby win.

Always Dreaming drew post No. 5 for the Derby. He won the Florida Derby by 5 lengths with a fantastic finish and the fastest Florida Derby time since Alydar in 1978. Not bad for his first stakes start. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is 1-for-18 in the Kentucky Derby, riding Animal Kingdom to victory in 2011.

McCraken will be in post No. 15 alongside Classic Empire. McCraken is 3-for-3 over the Churchill Downs track, but lost his recent start finishing 3rd in the Blue Grass Stakes. McCraken will try to become the first Blue Grass runner since 2007 to win the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Brian Hernandez will try to win his first Kentucky Derby in his second start.     

The other single-digit favorite in the Derby is Irish War Cry (6-1) breaking from post No. 17, where no horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Rajiv Maragh will try to also snap that streak with his 1st Derby win in his fifth start.

Wednesday was the Derby Draw and a day of laying odds. But regardless of who wins the Derby, the next Triple Crown race in the Preakness Stakes will provide another test for Derby runners trying to circle back just two weeks later at Pimlico. A number of fresh new runners will take their shot against the Derby winner and likely four or five other Derby runners. And the odds of the Derby winner will be even lower at the Preakness, making them a tougher choice to support even if they come out of the Derby in good shape.

Last year Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby as the 5-2 favorite for his 8th straight victory. Second choice Exaggerator finished in 2nd place. When the two rivals went to the Preakness, Exaggerator turned the tables to win the Preakness while Nyquist finished 3rd as the over bet 3-5 favorite. Nyquist would never win another race and retire following his 11th career start. Newcomers Cherry Wine (17-1) finished 2nd while lightly-raced speedster Stradivari (8-1) finished 4th in his stakes debut at the 2016 Preakness.

So watch the Kentucky Derby with interest and find a favorite or two and a few long shots to include in your exotic wagers. Then plan your Preakness strategy and uncover some under-the-radar horses and value to profit in the Preakness.

Kentucky Derby field with post position, odds, jockey, trainer and most recent race finish.

Post Horse Odds Jockey Trainer Last Race
1 Lookin at Lee 20-1 Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 3rd Arkansas Derby
2 Thunder Snow 20-1 Chris Soumillon Saeed bin Suroor 1st UA Derby
3 Fast and Accurate 50-1 Channing Hill Mike Maker 1st Spiral Stakes
4 Untrapped 30-1 Ricardo Santana, Jr. Steve Asmussen 6th Arkansas Derby
5 Always Dreaming 5–1 John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 1st Florida Derby
6 State of Honor 30–1 Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 2nd Florida Derby
7 Girvin 15-1 Mike Smith Joe Sharp 1st Louisiana Derby
8 Hence 15-1 Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 1st Sunland Derby
9 Irap 20-1 Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neil 1st Blue Grass Stakes
10 Gunnevera 15-1 Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 3rd Florida Derby
11 Battle of Midway 30-1 Flavien Prat Jerry Hollendorfer 2nd Santa Anita Derby
12 Sonneteer 50-1 Kent Desormeaus Keith Desormeaux 4th Arkansas Derby
13 J Boys Echo 20-1 Luis Saez Dale Romans 4th Blue Grass Stakes
14 Classic Empire 4–1 Julien Leparoux Mark Casse 1st Arkansas Derby
15 McCraken 5–1 Brian Hernandez, Jr Ian Wilkes 3rd Blue Grass Stakes
16 Tapwrit 20-1 Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 5th Blue Grass Stakes
17 Irish War Cry 6–1 Fajiv Maragh Graham Motion 1st Wood Memorial
18 Gormely 15-1 Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 1st Santa Anita Derby
19 Practical Joke 20-1 Joel Rosario Chad Brown 2nd Blue Grass Stakes
20 Patch 30-1 Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 2nd Louisiana Derby