With a strong favorite like Always Dreaming and a strong challenger in Classic Empire, pretty much every other horse in the expected 10-horse field is going to be a long shot to some extent or another. There is a decent chance that all eight horses will go off at 10/1 or higher. You can't bet all eight of them, though - especially because the top two are so tough. Of those eight longer shots, then, there are three that stand out as the most attractive. To be clear, this doesn't necessarily mean they are the most competitive but rather the most attractive at their price. This is all about finding value, not grading these horses. ( Futures odds are from Bovada )
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Hence (+1200): The only way you can deal with the Kentucky Derby this horse ran is to pretend that it never happened. He just had a lousy day. He didn't get into a lot of trouble, so he didn't have the obvious excuses that McCracken and Classic Empire had. He was always behind horses, though, and he ate a whole lot of mud on that sloppy track (I know it was called wet fast officially, but that was a farce - that track was sloppy by any measure). He just didn't like that, and he didn't like running on the track. Nothing went right, and you have to ignore the race entirely. The most compelling reason to ignore the race is that trainer Steve Asmussen clearly did. You don't often see a horse that finished 11th in the Derby get confirmed for the Preakness this quickly. He obviously wanted another chance to see what this horse has to offer. And it's clear that that is more than we saw at Churchill.
The track should be in much better shape than it was in Kentucky. There is rain forecast on Friday, but it shouldn't soak the track like two weeks ago. And Hence faces less competition and more room to move as a closer in this one than he did last time out. I have grown to like his Sunland Derby win more and more with each viewing, I am high on Florent Geroux as a rider, and I like the breeding. This price is solid.
Cloud Computing (+2000): This horse has massive potential, and he had the points to get into the Derby, but the decision not to run him was absolutely right. He has run only three times, and he just wasn't ready for that. This is a somewhat softer spot, though, and he looks much better here as a result.
The horse has breeding to die for - class to burn and plenty of stamina. He has been working absolutely brilliantly the last couple of weeks - he's fired two bullets and been second best once in his last three works. His connections are outstanding in trainer Chad Brown and new rider Javier Castellano. And he has had some time to mature and develop - not quite as good as a race but better than a poorly-chosen race like the Derby. And the race sets up well for him - he and Classic Empire are the only two stalkers, so they should have room and won't have to chase an aggressive pace because neither Always Dreaming nor Conquest Mo Money are likely to run away early. I like this price. A lot.
Senior Investment (+2500): This horse takes a while to get comfortable at a new level of racing. He lost three maiden races before finally winning one. He was not good in his first allowance race and then won his second. He was really bad in the Louisiana Derby in his graded stakes debut but then won the Lexington next time out. Well, this is his third graded stakes race, so can he again be competitive? I really like the race he ran last time out in the Lexington, though that was against lesser horses than he will face here. I like how he is looking and how he is moving. And the breeding is solid.
I don't think he has a legitimate shot of winning, but he's on a good trajectory to be a part of the exotics, and since he is likely to go off as the second-longest price on the board it could be really handy for the sake of payouts if he winds up a part of the tri or superfecta - especially if the two favorites have their days. I suspect he'll go off at a price even higher than this, and he would be an overlay for exotics purposes at a price like that. Heck, at anything 20/1 or better he's worth a long look.
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