Weekend Winners Club

May 22 2017

Preakness 2017: WTF Just Happened? Aftermath and early Belmont Analysis

Monday, May 22
Pimlico, Maryland
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Get the Belmont Stakes 2017 Grid Now
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There aren’t that many armchair quarterbacks this time around, as the racing “experts” are still searching for answers to the Preakness, because they still don’t get it.
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If they had used the Grid, they would understand much of it already. The winner was top EP and 2nd in speed, and the one he beat out by a nose was 2nd in EP and top in speed. They were 1st and 3rd in Grid power ratings.
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Cloud Computing edged out 2yo champ Classic Empire for Preakness title.

Cloud Computing edged out 2yo champ Classic Empire for Preakness title.


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The other two in the superfecta, Lookin at Lee: we told you to key anyone from the top 4 in the Derby, which he qualified as the Derby runner up. The surprise 3rd placer was difficult to support on paper, but shit happens. This is horse racing, and surprises are part of the game.
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You find me an expert or a service that can give me the exact top 4 for every big race run in the US, and I’ll not only sell you my soul but give you every paycheck from my day job, because I won’t need any of them anymore.
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Don’t pay any mind to the Monday morning armchair quarterbacks telling you this and that and making excuses. We have some facts, along with some ratings that easily gave you the top 2 on a track that normally favors speed and was doing so on Preakness day. And then there was circumstance and luck, as always.
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One thing I can tell you for certain, is that the horse that ran the best race was Classic Empire, dueling with a suicidal pace in a quest to knock off Always Dreaming, a tactic which worked until he was caught by the eventual winner Cloud Computing, who didn’t get caught up in the duel and had some gas left.
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One thing I won’t do is play the blame game either. Javier rode it perfectly, and deserves the praise for the win. Julien had the right idea but after it was said and done, fell a couple ounces short in the gas tank after the speed duel up front. It happens. He was a nose short. He wins that 7 other times out of 10.
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Kudos also goes to Channing Hill by the way, who technically had on paper, the worst mount in both triple crown races so far, and didn’t finish last in either. In fact, he finished 3rd in the Preakness with a great and well timed ride, along with some good old racing luck.
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Back to the facts. Classic Empire got caught by a nose but wasn’t by any means finished. Although tired from the speed duel, he was still running hard and battling for the lead. Keep in mind that he had just run a valiant 4th after being roughed up early in the Kentucky Derby 2 weeks earlier, while Cloud Computing was kicking back, resting up for the biggest race of his career.
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If Classic Empire is in good shape coming out of this race, he should be heavily favored to win the Belmont. He’s had a hard track already, getting injured early this year, then having to come back 3 weeks before The Derby at the Arkansas Derby, winning that and making it 3 huge races that he’s run in 5 weeks. That’s why I say, if he comes out in good shape, he can handle anything including the Belmont.
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One thing I expressed vehemently in a previous Preakness article was that the race was almost completely devoid of speed. Outside of Conquest Mo Money, Always Dreaming, and Classic Empire, there were no early runners except for presser Cloud Computing.
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The corollary item that I emphasized was that the jockeys and trainers knew all of this going into it. This explains why Classic Empire got into the speed duel. If Julien didn’t keep pace with Always Dreaming, he may have had no chance. As it was, Julien gave them a great chance, just fell a nose short in the end.
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Javier read it perfectly and hung in there right behind the pace, then gave it all he had at the end, which was just enough. Channing also had a perfect read and moved when it was time. You can’t get much better than finishing 3rd in the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown with the 2nd longest shot in the field.

Against the odds, also give credit to Lookin at Lee, who for the first time in his 11 race career, got passed, by Senior Investment. But he did get up for 4th, consistent with his record of finishing in the money in 10 of 11 career races, 8 of which have been graded stakes. Very impressive.
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But let’s be honest, at the end it was a 2-horse race. The others were over 4 lengths into irrelevancy. So who else should we talk about? Two races before the Preakness was the Sir Barton, at 8.5 furlongs, a full 1 furlong shorter than the Preakness. It was won by No Mo Dough in his 4th career start.
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The win itself in the Sir Barton is never a real impressive claim to fame, however the way in which it was won this year deserves mention. After a dawdling pace in which they ran over 2 seconds slower at the half mile and ¾ mile, the winner still closed and then drew away for a win.
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So it was a slower race with a slower pace? Yes, much slower. But that also means that it should have been very difficult for a horse that was dead last after ¾ mile to even come close to winning. But he did win easily, drawing away with flare.
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Still, his winning 8.5f time was a full second behind Classic Empire’s 8.5 time in the Preakness, which would put him about 5 lengths back at that mark. But there are definitely some apples and oranges here. That closing speed in the Preakness could have put him in the money.
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The runner-up in the Sir Barton, Time to Travel, was 2nd place most of the way and finished that way, despite the miserably slow pace. Much like Da Tara was in that race when pointed to the Belmont. Fortunately Big Brown isn’t here, and hopefully if entered, Time to Travel won’t be the only speed in the race.
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The point is that the Sir Barton is a race that is much used to see how three year old horses measure up to the real triple crown competition without actually running against them in the Preakness, but still running on the same track on the same day at a similar distance.
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No Mo Dough is the only one I would give a chance to in the Belmont right now, unless it ends up completely devoid of front end speed. Presumably he’s the only one that will be entered in the Belmont from this race, if any. If so, he’s definitely a contender.
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The other horse we’ll look at is Peter Pan favorite and winner Timeline, who won handily going away by 3.5 lengths, at Belmont Park, a week before the Preakness. The Peter Pan is another race oft-used as a prep for the Belmont Stakes, and I would expect them to enter this winner in the Test of Champions.
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Timeline will give trainer Chad Brown 2 quality horses to contend in the Belmont, along with Cloud Computing after the impressive Preakness win. Both have a great running style for the Preakness as well. So far the Belmont is coming up with a lack of early speed but there’s still time…

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