Half of this year's Preakness field consists of horses that didn't run in the Derby. Every year for some reason, the media likes to call them “new shooters.” We like to make fun of that.
But what about these non-Derby entries? Do any of them have a chance? History suggests they are unlikely to win. Only three of the past 27 Preakness winners failed to start in the Derby. However, these fresh horses often hit the board. Last year, half the superfecta was filled out by non-Derby runners and regularly in recent years, at least one of the horses (apparently brandishing some sort of firearm) shows up in the super.
With that in mind, here's some info on the new guys:
Multiplier: In the old days, he might've snuck into the Kentucky Derby by winning in Illinois. That was a pretty good victory, figure-wise, and trainer Brendan Walsh said that's why he's giving this colt a shot. By The Factor out of a Trippi mare, Multiplier didn't start as a 2-year-old but he's done nothing but improve in his four starts at three. At 30-1 odds, he's a must-include in trifecta and superfecta wagers.
His sire, dam and damsire all did their best running at shorter distances but in the nine-furlong Illinois Derby, Multiplier ran like a colt that might like going a bit farther. Jockey Joel Rosario started riding in the Preakness in 2012, finishing third with Creative Cause. He has since finished second twice, with Ride On Curlin and Tale of Verve. Previous races suggest Multiplier settle into a mid-pack position in the Preakness.
The colt is trained by Brendan Walsh, a 44-year-old Irishman who started training in the U.S. in 2011. While this is his first Triple Crown race, Walsh has steadily built a winning outfit that is projected to have a career season in 2017 after winning four graded stakes last year.
I spoke with the trainer this week about Multiplier and the Preakness:
Cloud Computing: Another colt who didn't race as a juvenile, Cloud Computing won his debut in February at Aqueduct and has subsequently hit the board in both his other starts, each one a graded stakes race. That's a pretty good early resume. Following a third place effort last out in the Wood Memorial, Cloud Computing picks up top rider Javier Castellano, who rode Gunnevera in the Derby. Castellano won the Preakness in 2006 aboard Bernardini and finished third with Divining Rod in 2015.
Cloud Computing's sire, Maclean's Music (Distorted Humor), won his only career start, although it was a six-furlong event. But his dam, Quick Temper, out of excellent broodmare sire A.P. Indy, won at 1 1/8 miles. The distance shouldn't be an issue. On speed figures, the Wood Memorial came back strong. Cloud Computing could be sitting on a big race at long odds for consistently successful trainer Chad Brown. Based on previous starts, I expect he'll sit just behind the pacesetters.
Term of Art: Here's another colt that's part of the Triple Crown rebirth of Calumet Farm. A son of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow out of a Storm Cat mare, Term of Art will be making his 10th career start in the Preaknesss, so he has some seasoning to him. He has a couple of wins on his resume, including the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar last November, but his recent performances at higher levels suggest he's in too deep here, most recently finishing a well-beaten seventh in the Santa Anita Derby.
However, in the San Felipe before that, Term of Art ran on paper the best race of his career, finishing third, 8 1/2 lengths behind Mastery, who would've been the Derby favorite had he not gotten injured. So maybe that's something for backers to hang their hats on, but it's likely he will struggle to be involved in the race at crunch time.
Term of Art will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who's turning into one of the young stars of the game but making his first Preakness start. Trainer Doug O'Neill is certainly no stranger to Baltimore, having won in 2012 with I'll Have Another and grabbing third last year with Nyquist. Owner Calumet farm upset the Preakness in 2013 when Oxbow took the field gate to wire.
Senior Investment: This guy's career began a little slow last summer — it took him four races to break his maiden — but he's shown significant improvement as a 3-year-old. Following a sixth-place effort in the Louisiana Derby, Senior Investment came from behind a tepid pace to win the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland April 15.
His sire, Discreetly Mine, was most successful at sprint distances, but his damsire Deputy Commander won at the classic 1 1/4-mile distance in the Travers, and his dam, Plaid, won multiple route races.
Senior Investment will be ridden by Channing Hill, who was aboard in the Lexington and who is making his first start in any Triple Crown race. Trainer Ken McPeek has saddled a trio of horses in the Preakness, beginning with Tejano Run, ninth in 1995. He's finished fourth in the other two starts (Harlan's Holiday, 2002 and Racecar Rhapsody, 2008).
Unless the pace melts down, Hill will be challenged to keep this stretch runner close enough to have any sort of impact on the race. Despite his improvement, his running style and speed suggest he's likely to come up short of hitting the board.
Conquest Mo Money: Of all the fresh horses, this one is most likely to have a significant impact on the 2017 Preakness. Based on his previous races and given his outside draw, there's little question he's breaking with intent on getting the early lead. The thing is, he's shown he can run pretty hard for quite a ways. His effort in the Arkansas Derby was top notch, considering he was only caught late by one horse, Classic Empire, a colt many believe will turn the tables on Always Dreaming in this race.
Sire Uncle Mo ranks number one currently among third-crop sires and in the top dozen overall. His dam, Stirring, by Seeking the Gold, was unraced.
This will be jockey Jorge Carreno's first Triple Crown race and while his resume only includes one graded stakes victory in 15 years, he's an experienced rider with more than 1,300 wins from 8,942 starts. Conditioner Miguel Hernandez is a small-stable trainer who has become one of the leading trainers in New Mexico. Read more about him and owner Tom McKenna in our recent Connections story.
Conquest Mo Money's rivals had better keep an accurate clock in their heads because this guy can set some swift fractions and keep going. He's certainly the main candidate in the field to lull ‘em to sleep and pull an Oxbow (gate-to-wire in 2013).
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