Always Dreaming Betting Favorite Over Classic Empire for Preakness Stakes

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A smaller field and the ever-present desire to see a Triple Crown winner has driven down the price on Always Dreaming, which creates value elsewhere on the odds to win the Preakness Stakes at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Always Dreaming is listed as the -125 favorite to win the Preakness, the middle and penultimate jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby-winning colt is on a four-race win streak and will get to start from the No. 4 post at Pimlico Race Course, where 13 winners have started from in the history of the race.

The field for Saturday consists of 10 horses, only half the number that ran in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. The weather will be warmer and the track will likely be firmer than it was at a muddy Churchill Downs. Neither Always Dreaming’s mount, John Velazquez, or his trainer, Todd Pletcher, has ever won a Preakness.

The conditions and the shorter turnaround time might work in the favor of second favorite Classic Empire (+300), who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. Classic Empire will also break from the middle of the pack in the No. 5 position.

Lookin At Lee (+1000) is the Kentucky Derby runner-up and will start from the No. 9 hole. The slightly shorter distance (one and three-16th miles vis-a-vis the Derby’s mile and one-quarter) might not allow Lookin At Lee enough time to make a push for top spot.

Cloud Computing (+1400) and Conquest Mo Money (+1800) could each have a drop in price for the Preakness Stakes closer to post time on Saturday. Cloud Computing, who will be ridden by jockey Javier Castellano, has been lightly raced. He also has the No. 2 position, which allows for drafting off another horse until the home stretch.

Conquest Mo Money, ridden by Jorge Carreno, is a speedster suited for the shorter duration of the Preakness. He has had a five-week break since his last race at the Arkansas Derby, where he was a close second behind none other than Classic Empire.

The field also includes Gunnevera (+1600), Hence (+2000), Term of Art (+3300), Senior Investment (+3300) and Multiplier (+4000). Gunnevera and Hence were seventh and 11th respectively in the Kentucky Derby, which doesn’t strike one as a harbinger of a win on Saturday.

 

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.