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Having a birthday in 2014 – check.  Being talented enough to earn a chance in the spotlight in the biggest annual sporting event in the State of Maryland – check.  A starting gate with 14 spots – check.  The third Saturday in May – check.  Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD – check.  One-and-three-sixteenths-of-mile race on dirt – check.  Black-Eyed Susans for everyone – check.  Fancy hats – check.  A blanket of Black-Eyed Susans – check.  Some money for the bank – check.  Second leg of the Triple Crown (TC) trail – check.  An awesome trophy – check.  A chance at thoroughbred immortality – check.

Let’s see who will compete in “the run for the Black-Eyed Susans” this year.

Let’s see whose prayers will be answered late Saturday afternoon.

Let’s see whose dreams will come true when the Preakness Stakes (PS) gods change his destiny.

ALWAYS DREAMING

Always Dreaming…Congratulations on your 2017 Kentucky Derby (KD) win!  I don’t want to jinx it, but you are just two wins away from a Really. Big. Something.  But we’re getting ahead of that (or should I say we’re putting the cart before the horse, ha!).  Always Dreaming won the Derby in the mud, during a brutal pace (at least in the beginning) and seemed to settle in at all the right times throughout his oval journey.  Nothing bothered him and he seemed to grow before the crowd and let them all know he was there to win and win big!  I think they got the picture!  Always Dreaming will be starting from post four (last won in 2007 by Curlin) – he won the Florida Derby from that number and is on a hot win streak – can anything stop him?  Mother Nature won’t be raining on his parade in Baltimore, just maybe bringing out some clouds on Saturday!  He has been training really well in Maryland too – his trainer has stated, “I thought he looked great. He’s feeling super—strong but controlled, which is what we wanted to see,” and “He was well behaved around the barn, on his way to the track, and on his way back to the track. I thought he was focused and under control throughout”.  His energy is up and he remains composed in the barn – no drama at all so no news is good news!  Fun facts…Always Dreaming is the third Florida Derby winner in five years who went on to win the Kentucky Derby!  Always Dreaming has 27 Horse of the Year (HOY) winners and 14 PS winners in his family tree!  He has six (TC) winners in those branches with 1930 TC Gallant Fox; 1935 TC Omaha; 1937 TC War Admiral; 1943 TC Count Fleet; 1973 TC Secretariat and 1977 TC Seattle Slew!  The great Noor, the first ever horse to beat two TC winners (1946 TC Assault and 1948 TC Citation), is his great-great-great-great maternal grandfather!  Noor is buried at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, KY, the gentlest place on earth!  Good Luck Always Dreaming!

CLASSIC EMPIRE

Classic Empire…Classic Empire came in fourth two weeks ago and the rematch is on!  The 2016 Champion 2-Year-Old v. the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner!  Classic Empire will be starting from post five (where Exaggerator won from last year!) – right next to Always Dreaming – you have to wonder what kind of trash talk will go on before the gates open, right?  Maybe?  Classic Empire got smooshed at the start of the Derby and was probably out of it by the first turn.  He did manage to fight and claw his way into fourth, but not before getting bonked in his right eye.  Classic Empire will find more favorable conditions on Saturday due to the smaller field size, the weather and oh yes, his speed.  While that was not completely on display in the Derby, the patient ride after the beginning problems revealed a smart jockey and smart horse.  Classic Empire showed that he can look a horse in the eye and dig down and win – just ask Syndergaard what happened in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  As long as he gets a clean break, look for Classic Empire to be up with the pace, if not setting it himself!  This won’t be a “need to have a perfect race set up in order to win” race for Classic Empire, he is already a champion in case you didn’t know, but for his fans, hold those lucky horseshoes tight for no repeat of two weeks ago!  Fun facts…Classic Empire has four TC winners in his family that include 1930 TC Gallant Fox; 1937 TC War Admiral; 1943 TC Count Fleet and 1973 TC Secretariat; has 26 HOY winners and 14 PS winners!  If Classic Empire wins the Preakness, he would be the eighth juvenile champion to win the second jewel of the TC since the awards were created!  His has the same sire of the last TC winner, 2015 TC American Pharoah – really no pressure for this son, amiright?  Classic Empire shares the same March 21st birthday with Senior Investment!  Good luck Classic Empire!

CLOUD COMPUTING

Cloud Computing…Cloud Computing is one of five horses in the Preakness who did not race two weeks ago.  Cloud Computing did not race at two, and just won his first race in February of this year, which also happened to be fir first-ever race!  You might wonder if he’s ready for this kind of step up in class, and you would not be alone.  After his maiden win, he jumped up and came in 2nd (Gotham Stakes) where he chased a fast pace and 3rd (Wood Memorial) where he broke poorly from the gate and lost it there.  He had enough points for the Derby, but his owners chose to point him towards the Preakness and not the Derby to give him a little more time to mature.  His trainer has said, “He’s come along fast. We always thought he had a lot of talent. He needs to get to that mile-and-three-sixteenths distance, which I’m confident he can. I think the six weeks between races will play into his favor”.  Depending on how the race sets up, the speed and conditions, Cloud Computing should be able to settle in and give it his best shot!  Fun facts…Cloud Computing will be starting from post two and the last horse to win from there was Snow Chief in 1986!  Cloud Computing has 15 PS winners and 29 HOY honorees in his family tree!  He also has four TC winners with 1937 TC War Admiral; 1943 TC Count Fleet and 1973 TC Secretariat and 1977 TC Seattle Slew entwined in those branches!  Cloud Computing has the least amount of starts with three, but the good news is he has never finished off the board!  Cloud Computing gets his name from the financial nature of the businesses his owners are in.  Per Wikipedia, Cloud Computing is “a type of Internet-based computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand”.  Ok, what?  If you’re a finance or computer person, this is your horse!  Good Luck Cloud Computing!

CONQUEST MO MONEY

Conquest Mo Money…Conquest Mo Money is the next horse in the race that did not race in the Derby.  Recent history does not look good for this guy since nine of the last ten Preakness winners ran in the Kentucky Derby!  (The only horse who did not run in the Derby in the last ten years but won the Preakness is 2009 HOY and 2009 PS winner, the lovely Rachel Alexandra!  She did win the 2009 Kentucky Oaks on Derby Day though – I’m just sayin’ – I ♥ her!)  Back to Conquest Mo Money – he will be the speed of the race so look for him to get out front fast and early!  A slight problem with that is he will be starting from post 10 (last won by Real Quiet in 1998) and will have to jump out fast and cross the track to get to the front.  Phew, it’s a good thing he’s fast, you know, fast like a thoroughbred!  What would really help him would be a more moderate pace so maybe if he gets out front early, he can slow things down just a bit.  But this is a horse race, and last I check these things are fast!  His trainer says, “It is not going to be easy, but he’s training right, I think he’s going to be pretty tough.”  So far in Baltimore he has remained calm, seems to like the track and is adapting to his new surroundings well – all good things to know!  Nothing seems to bother this horse, who arrived on Sunday after a 15 hour van ride from Iowa – welcome to Pimlico Conquest Mo Money!  Fun facts…Conquest Mo Money did not race as a two-year-old, has started five times this year and never finished worse than second!  His pedigree boasts 11 PS winners, 20 HOY winners and 2 TC winners (1937 TC War Admiral and 1943 TC Count Fleet)!  Conquest Mo Money also has the great Noor in his family on his sire’s side.  Noor is buried at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, KY, the gentlest place on earth!  Conquest Mo Money was purchased for $8,500.00 and earned $508,900.00 – wow – nice return!  Good Luck Conquest Mo Money!

GUNNEVERA

Gunnevera…Gunnevera finished 7th two weeks ago and will be starting from post six, last won in 2013 by Oxbox, right next to Classic Empire.  Gunnevera had a troubled trip in the Derby, hanging wide for most of the race and never really a threat to the six ahead of him.  Gunnevera will not be the speed in the race and expect him to sit off the pace and wait to make his move.  His jockey will have to determine that sooner rather than later as the track is tighter than Louisville and the distance is shorter than the Derby.  He is a deep closer, but depending on how the speed sets up, he may have to quicken his stride early to be in contention later.  His trainer has said this week that he, “is handling the Pimlico racing surface well” and that he “likes this track”.  He gets a new jockey, ideal weather and he’s full of energy this week – sounds like someone is ready to race!  Fun facts…Gunnevera has five TC winners in his family (1930 TC Gallant Fox; 1937 TC War Admiral; 1943 TC Count Fleet; 1973 TC Secretariat and 1977 TC Seattle Slew)!  He can boast 27 HOY winners and 14 PS winners in his family!  Let’s thank Jenny again,  the nurse mare who was brought in after Gunnevera lost his dam ten days after he was born – thank you Jenny!  Gunnevera is tied with Lookin At Lee for the most starts with ten!  Gunnevera is named for a small town Spain!  Good Luck Gunnevera!

HENCE

Hence…A troubled start and a ton of traffic were all it took on Derby day and Hence crossed the wire in 11th place.  Hence possesses early speed and was unable to showcase that two weeks ago when he was held back at the start of the race.  He did not seem to like the track or the mud and when he mounted his move near the top of the stretch it was too late, plus he had more company than he knew what to do with!  So Hence is back, ready to take another shot at a Classic race.  Hence will be starting from post three and may want to tell the horse just to his right, 2017 KD Always Dreaming, that the last horse to win from post three was 2014 PS winner and 2014 and 2016 HOY California Chrome – wow!  Not too sure he will care, but don’t be intimidated, it’s a horse race and anything can happen!  Hence should sit off the pace and wait, be patient and settle in.  Hence has the class and stamina to factor into every part of this race.  With a shorter distance, and in this case, more favorable weather and subsequently a fast track, decisions will have to be made earlier on where he will be placed as he nears the far turn.  If he can be in front of the closers, he may be able to be in front of them all!  Fun facts… Hence has 13 PS winners, 26 HOY winners and four TC winners (1937 TC War Admiral; 1943 TC Count Fleet; 1973 TC Secretariat and 1977 TC Seattle Slew) in his family!  His paternal great-grandfather is Ogygian, aka the fastest son of 1967 HOY Damascus!  Ogygian is buried at Old Friends in Georgetown, KY, the gentlest place on earth!  The manager of Calumet Farm, owners of Hence, Eddie Kane, told the Derby website that “the colt’s name was inspired by his appearance. “Hence was always a good-looking horse,” Kane said, “‘Hence’ he should be fast”!  Good Luck Hence!

LOOKIN AT LEE

Lookin At Lee…Even though you got in a mere seven days before the race, and even though you started from the rail, and even though it was an off track, you showed you belonged when you came in second in the KD two weeks ago!  If any horse can be considered a closer in the race it’s Lookin At Lee, who is great at finishing big…but not so great at winning big.  He has not won since last August, but he keeps showing up and keeps improving at all the right times!  He won’t have the rail on Saturday (which he seemed to love and just so happens to be the shortest way around any track!) and will be starting from out in post nine.  Since he’s not a speed horse, the nine hole will suit his running style.  He can sit back off the pace, settle in and see how the race sets up.  With tighter turns at Pimlico, he can’t sit around and wait for too long, but if his luck remains like it was on May 6, he should be ok.  His trainer sings his praise, “He’s always been in a good rhythm,”, “His personality and gamesmanship are what gave us confidence in him going into the Derby. You have no control over how the other horses run, but you always feel Lookin At Lee is going to do his best”!  Fun facts… Lookin at Lee is tied with Gunnevera for the most starts with ten!  Lookin At Lee’s lineage includes 11 PS winners and 22 HOY winners!  1930 TC Gallant Fox; 1937 TC War Admiral and 1943 TC Count Fleet are his ancestors as well!  His paternal great-great-great-great grandmother is Shenanigans, dam of 1976 HOF-inductee filly Ruffian!  Lookin At Lee is named after his sire and one of the racing partnership connections, Lee Levison of L and N Racing!  Good Luck Lookin At Lee!

MULTIPLIER

Multiplier…Multiplier is the third new horse to race in the Preakness after bypassing the Kentucky Derby.  He did not race as a two-year-old, has raced four times total and never been off the board!  Multiplier will be starting from post one and fyi, the last horse to win from there was 2015 TC American Pharoah!  Multiplier won the Illinois Derby last month with a perfect trip in his graded stakes debut, but has yet to face the same caliber of horses that he faces in Maryland – who wants to tell him the 2017 KD winner and 2016 Champion two-year-old are three and four spots to his right?  Multiplier is another closer who saves ground and saves his energy to come from off the pace with one late kick.  The speed up front won’t be the problem, it will be the mass of male equines all looking to make their move as they turn for home!  He has the speed and stamina in his bloodlines, so this distance shouldn’t bother him at all.  Hi trainer says he is a very laid back horse and that, “Nothing bothers him.  His temperament is what allows him more than anything.  He’s so switched off.  He wants to eat and sleep, and that’s it, but in a race, he shows great desire.”,  “He’s the kind of horse you could bring him to the moon and he’d handle it” – there’s no racing on the moon, so here’s hoping that desire shows up on Saturday afternoon!  Fun facts… Multiplier has four TC winners in his family (1930 TC Gallant Fox; 1935 TC Omaha; 1937 TC War Admiral and 1943 TC Count Fleet)!  He is also related to 14 PS winners and 23 HOY winners!  His paternal great-great-great grandmother is Shenanigans, dam of 1976 HOF-inductee filly Ruffian!  Eight generations back on his dams’ side is 1924 PS winner Nellie Morse, the fourth filly to win the Preakness!  Good Luck Multiplier!

SENIOR INVESTMENT

Senior Investment…Senior Investment is the next new horse in the race that did not race two weeks ago.  He will be starting from post eight.  The last horse to win from there was Bernardini in 2006, but that race will forever be remembered for the injury to 2006 KD winner Barbaro.  Anyway, Senior Investments’ big win came in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes last month.  Another closer in the race, he takes a huge jump in class against these Preakness starters, but coming off a win is a confidence booster, right?  When asked about his horse, his trainer said, “He’s a really confident horse right now and doesn’t know he’s running for $1.5 million and in a Grade 1”, so true!  It’s just another horse race – get saddled up, walk onto the track, parade in front of the crowd, enter the gate, run when it opens, cross wire first, no big deal.  Well, it can only be that easy for one horse in every race.  Only one colt will be that fortunate late Saturday afternoon.  His trainer also notes, Senior Investment is “just such a cool guy. His mentality gets him a long way. He’s just so calm and relaxed. He does anything you ask him to, and he loves running by horses,” and “I think he prefers chasing someone down. We’re going into this race good and hopefully we can upset some people” – believe me if this horse wins, upset will be the word of the day!  Fun facts…Senior Investments’ bloodline includes 15 PS winners, 31 HOY winners (the most of this group!) and four TC winners with 1937 TC War Admiral; 1943 TC Count Fleet; 1973 TC Secretariat and 1977 TC Seattle Slew!  Senior Investment shares the same March 21st birthday with Classic Empire!  Good Luck Senior Investment!

TERM OF ART

Term Of Art…Term Of Art is the fifth fresh horse in the gate who chose Pimlico over Louisville for his next race.  While he has not yet stood in the winners’ circle as a three-year-old, Term Of Art can brag that he won a graded stakes race at two!  Term Of Art has already faced two of his competitors.  If he looks either two spots to his left (Classic Empire) or two spots to his right (Lookin At Lee) he can give a shout out to his co-2016 BC Juvenile entrants.  Ok, so he came in 9th and they came in 1st and 4th respectively, pffftt…that was then and this is now and this is horse racing and anything can happen!  Term Of Art will be making his tenth lifetime start at Pimlico and his first-ever outside of California – welcome to Maryland!  He will be going back to blinkers on Saturday after having them off the last three races.  He wore them his first six starts and had them on for his two wins, so hopefully having them back on will get him to settle and focus.  The son of two-time BC Classic winner and 2000 HOY Tiznow, class and stamina should not be a problem for him.  He is one of the most experienced runners in the field and per his trainer, “He’s knocked heads with some pretty good horses.”  Look around, there are some pretty good horses in the gate!  He won’t be the speed of the race and won’t be the big closer in the race, but if the race sets up just perfectly, this one-run horse may be wearing a flowery blanket on Saturday!  Fun facts…Term Of Art has the least amount of earnings of the field – and you get a light blue ribbon for tenth place!  Term Of Arts’ descendants include four TC winners with 1937 TC War Admiral; 1943 TC Count Fleet; 1973 TC Secretariat and 1977 TC Seattle Slew!  His lineage also consists of 15 PS winners and 28 HOY winners!  If Term Of Art wins, he would replace 1975 PS winner Master Derby, who went off at 23-1, as the biggest longshot to win the Preakness!  Good Luck Term Of Art!

I have no more words except for the next 36!  Every horse is special.  Any horse can have a good day and any horse can have a bad day.  Here’s hoping all of them come home safely.  Have fun! 

Safe trip to all and good luck!