Preakness Stakes Analysis: How will the pace develop?
Preakness Stakes Pace Preview
The faster the front-running horses go through the first three-quarters or so of the race, the more they will tire out late and allow the late runners to catch up: That’s the concept behind using pace as a handicapping tool to predict the outcome of a race.
Conversely, the slower the early pace by the front runners, the more energy they save for the last quarter of the race and the more difficult it is for late running horses to close any ground.
Looking at the past perfromances and running styles of the probable entries in the Preakness Stakes shows that there is really only one horse, Conquest Mo Money, considered a “speed” horse, who likes to push the early pace along. Two or three of the Preakness horses, including favorite Always Dreaming, can be considered “stalkers”. They like to run just off the pace, another two or three are mid-pack runners, while about half the field are closers or deep closers.
When the gates open at Pimlico, it’s likely Conquest Mo Money will be wanting the lead coming off the first turn, as in the Arkanses Derby. While he’s obviously a fast horse, past races have shown that Always Dreaming likes to be near the front pack. He’s probably going to be right on Conquest Mo Money’s flank.
In the next flight, we should see Classic Empire, Cloud Computing, and perhaps one or both of Multiplier and Lancaster Bomber. All the rest will be trailing somewhere behind those two groups, saving their energy to make one big run at the end.
For these horses, they have to hope that at least the first two will get onto a speed duel, pushing the pace along the backstretch and into the far turn as they straighten out for the run to the wire. If they are instead allowed to cruise along at a relatively slow pace, both lead horses, and those in the second flight waiting to pounce in the stretch run, will have plenty left in the tank and be that much more difficult to pass.
Unfortunately for real late runners such as Lexington Stakes winner Senior Investment, a full-out drag race in the front end is unlikely to occur. While Conquest Mo Money may want to race out to an open lead early, he has been caught late in his past couple of races and ended up in second and third place respectively. Jockey Jorge Carreno will be well aware of the need to try and conserve some of the colt’s energy to fend off the charge of Always Dreaming, Classic Empire and any others stalking him into the lane.
At the same time, John Velazquez knows that Always Dreaming has shown excellent acceleration in the final quarter-mile of his races, and so as long as he can maintain contact he doesn’t need to be challenging Conquest Mo Money for the lead through the first part of the race.
What this means from a betting point of view is that handicappers looking to pick a winner should give the front-end and second-flight group of runners serious consideration, and be wary of the late runners for anything but the bottom end of trifecta and superfecta bets.
Preakness Stakes Field Running Style
Conquest Mo Money – Front Runner
Always Dreaming – Stalker/Front Runner
Classic Empire – Stalker
Cloud Computing – Stalker
Lancaster Bomber – Mid-Pack Runner/Stalker
Multiplier – Mid-Pack Runner/Stalker
Gunnevera – Closer
Hence – Closer
Lookin’ At Lee – Closer/Deep Closer
Term Of Art – Deep Closer
Senior Investment – Deep Closer
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