There are broadly three types of horses in the Preakness Stakes this year. There are the horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby , and those five will likely be the five lowest-priced horses in this 10-horse field. Then there are Cloud Computing and Conquest Mo Money , two colts who had the points to run in the Derby but were pointed here instead. And then there are three completely new shooters. Multiplier fits into that group and will likely be the lowest-priced of the group. But is he good enough to be a real contender in the race?
Last race: The colt took a big jump from maiden races to a grade 3 stakes last time out in the Illinois Derby, which takes place two weeks before the Kentucky Derby and is not a Derby points race. The field was just seven deep but was reasonably solid. Multiplier was the third choice in the field. He was fifth much of the way and stayed there into the final turn. He started moving forward around that turn, was second at the top of the stretch, and then methodically chased down favorite Hedge Fund, just narrowly nipping him at the line.
Prior experience: We saw incremental improvement in each of his first three races - all maiden races at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. In late January he made his debut, finishing third. A month later he climbed a rung on the ladder, finishing second. And then in the third try a month later he finally got the job done, winning by nearly two lengths as the favorite. In that race he was sixth in the nine-horse field early on and just fourth entering the final turn. By the top of the stretch, though, he was in charge, and widened the lead to the wire. It wasn't an effortless win, though - he was ridden hard with every stride by Brian Hernandez Jr. Hernandez, who rode McCracken in the Derby, was aboard for all three maiden races but hasn't ridden him since and won't here despite not having another mount in the race.
Trainer: Brendan Walsh is an odd case - he has only 130 career wins, but 11 of them have been in graded stakes. Guys don't typically get 10 percent of their wins in graded stakes. Actually, it never happens. Walsh isn't your typical trainer with relatively few wins, though. This is his sixth year training on his own, but the Irish trainer had previously spent a decade working for Godolphin Stables, one of the biggest and most powerful in the world, in Ireland and Dubai. You learn a thing or two about winning and build some connections and credibility with a job like that. Then he came to the U.S. and spent four years working for fellow Irishman Eddie Kenneally. So he has been around a lot of winning. He doesn't have a Grade 1 victory and has not been around a Triple Crown race before. One of those things will change here, and the other could as well.
Jockey: Joel Rosario climbs aboard this colt for the first time in this race. He was fifth in the Derby this year with Practical Joke. Rosario won the Derby in 2013 with Orb and the Belmont the next year with Tonalist. He's consistently a Top 10 jockey and is enjoying another solid year this year. He's an asset for the colt and the best rider that the horse has had.
Breeding: Multiplier is a son of The Factor, a multiple grade 1 winner trained by Bob Baffert from 2010 to 2012. He's obviously a new sire, but his first crops have been strong. He has Northern Dancer in his direct male line - never a bad thing in a Triple Crown race. Multiplier's damsire is Trippi, who has multiple ties to this race - he was trained by favorite Always Dreaming's trainer Todd Pletcher and was sold at auction as a yearling with Mark Casse as his agent. Casse trains likely second choice Classic Empire. Trippi was 11th in the Derby in 2000 but found good success at shorter distances later in his career. Most of his success as a stud has been at a mile or less and not in North America. All in all it's decent breeding, but his blood isn't the best suited to the race in the field.
Odds: Bovada has Multiplier at +2000 to win the Preakness, which has him as the co-seventh choice in the likely 10-horse field with Cloud Computing. It's hard to argue with that price - and equally tough to get excited about it.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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