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  1. #46
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    Can Lookin At Lee move up one spot?
    By Marty McGee


    Lookin At Lee (left) will try to become the second Kentucky Derby runner-up in a row to win the Preakness.

    BALTIMORE – Until Exaggerator won last year, it had been 23 years since the second-place Derby finisher had won the Preakness. In fact, before then, only two Derby runners-up since 1960 had won, Summer Squall (1990) and Prairie Bayou (1993).

    Lookin At Lee, second to Always Dreaming in the Derby when dismissed at 33-1, will try to make it two in a row.

    Trainer Steve Asmussen likes the way the colt exited the Derby and downplays the fact that the colt experienced far less trouble than most in the race. Skimming the rail until angling out in a futile attempt to catch Always Dreaming in the final furlong, Lookin At Lee and jockey Corey Lanerie did encounter a tight spot behind a faltering Fast and Accurate midway through the final turn.

    “It takes a horse like Lookin At Lee to get the ‘dream trip,’ ” said Asmussen. “Some of the spots he went through aren’t for everybody. It’s what has us feeling so strongly about him.”

    Asmussen said he has a soft spot for Lookin At Lee, who traces his roots to the El Primero Training Center, operated by his parents, Keith and Marilyn Asmussen, in their hometown of Laredo, Texas.

    “He was the only horse in the field that was started at my dad’s place in Laredo,” he said, “so I’m going to go with that didn’t hurt him.”
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #47
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    Always Dreaming looking good in yellow and green
    By Marty McGee


    Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will once again sport the silks of MeB Stables, one of six entities that own the colt

    BALTIMORE – Given that he has so many owners, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Always Dreaming competing under a different set of jockey’s silks every time he runs.

    But the pale yellow-green silks of MeB Stables will continue to be the only ones the colt carries.

    “That was all agreed upon early,” said Terry Finley, whose West Point Thoroughbreds partnership bought in earlier this year as one of six entities that now own Always Dreaming. “And I think everyone is fine with that. We wanted to be a part of this horse far more than worry about the silks. Actually, I think he looks good in them.”

    MeB is the stable name of Mary Ellen Bonomo, whose husband, Anthony, is the principal in the original owner, Brooklyn Boyz. Last August, Vinnie Viola (St. Elias) and his wife, Teresa, bought into the colt under separate stable names. Then, West Point and the Siena Farm of Anthony Manganaro joined in as minor partners in March.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #48
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    Belt-holder Classic Empire still in there punching
    By David Grening

    Despite a tough trip, Classic Empire was a fighting fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

    BALTIMORE -- The champion may have been knocked down a couple of times this season, but he’s coming back for more.

    Classic Empire, the 2-year-old champion of 2016, has had a star-crossed 3-year-old campaign. He managed to win the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby after a roller-coaster winter and spring. Following a difficult trip when fourth to Always Dreaming in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, Classic Empire will be one of nine expected challengers to face Always Dreaming in the Preakness.

    As far as his connections are concerned Classic Empire should be in this race, troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby or not.

    “We obviously know we were compromised in the Derby, but it’s not about that,” Norm Casse, assistant to his father, Mark, said Tuesday morning at Pimlico. “We like running our horses. You have a horse like Classic Empire, we believe we should be in these races. Hopefully, what will happen is Always Dreaming will have a good trip. We’ll have a good trip and we’ll settle it on the racetrack. I think that’s what we all deserve.”

    Classic Empire was certainly a deserving 2-year-old champion of 2016 after winning four of five starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His lone loss came in the Hopeful at Saratoga when he unseated his jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., leaving the gate.

    His 3-year-old season has not gone quite as smoothly. In January, Classic Empire finished third in the Grade 2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream and came out of the race with a foot abscess. On at least two occasions, Classic Empire refused to train in the morning at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida. The Casses sent Classic Empire to Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala, Fla., where he was taught his lessons as a young horse. After four workouts there, Classic Empire won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, getting up late to beat Conquest Mo Money by a half-length.

    Though things were going well for Classic Empire leading into the Kentucky Derby, Norm Casse felt that everything had to go perfectly in order to win. Things didn’t go perfectly in the Derby. Classic Empire got bumped at the start and was 13th early in the 20-horse field. He was extremely wide turning for home and then got bumped again at the eighth pole. Still, he persevered to be fourth, beaten 8 3/4 lengths.

    “Personally, I felt that while we were happy where the horse was, we still knew we needed to have everything go perfect in the Derby and that whatever happened in the Derby, happened in the Derby, and for the Preakness we would really be sitting on a big race,” Casse said.

    Casse has liked what he’s seen in the morning from Classic Empire since the Derby, including Tuesday, when he jogged seven furlongs and galloped 1 1/8-miles on his first morning over Pimlico’s main track.

    “The horse, since the Derby, has been much more on the bridle, much more aggressive galloping -- kind of back to the way he used to gallop as a 2-year-old,” Casse said. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s putting himself in the race early just by the way he’s been training.”

    This will be the third consecutive year that the 2-year-old champion will run in the Preakness. In the last 42 years, only 10 juvenile champions have competed in the Preakness. In that span, the juvenile champion has won the Preakness five times, three being Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew, Affirmed and American Pharoah. Lookin At Lucky, the 2008 2-year-old champion, won the 2009 Preakness after a troubled trip sixth in the Derby. Timber Country, the 1993 juvenile champion, won the 1994 Preakness after finishing third in the Kentucky Derby.

    Norm Casse hopes to not only run Classic Empire in the Preakness, but he would like the colt to be well enough to run in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

    “We feel fortunate enough to have a horse that deserves to be in Triple Crown races. I would imagine we would take a really long look at it,” he said.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #49
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    Preakness: Conquest Mo Money seems to like Pimlico surface
    By Jim Dunleavy


    Conquest Mo Money gallops on the Pimlico track for the first time Tuesday.

    BALTIMORE - Conquest Mo Money, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby in his last two starts, got his first taste of the Pimlico racing surface on Tuesday as he continues preparations for the $1.5 million Preakness this Saturday, the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

    Jockey Jorge Carreno, who has ridden Conquest Mo Money in all five of his races, supervised Conquest Mo Money's training Tuesday and was aboard for his gallop. Trainer Miguel Hernandez and owners Tom and Sandy McKenna were expected to arrive in Baltimore later Tuesday.

    Conquest Mo Money has been stabled at Prairie Meadows, outside Des Moines, Iowa, since the April 15 Arkansas Derby, a race in which he was beaten a half-length by last year's 2-year-old champion and fellow Preakness hopeful Classic Empire. Conquest Mo Money vanned from Prairie Meadows to Kentucky on Saturday, stayed overnight, and then continued on to Pimlico Sunday. On Monday, he walked the shed row at Pimlico.

    On Tuesday, Conquest Mo Money came onto the track at the gap by the three-sixteenths pole just after the mid-morning renovation break, back-tracked to the three-furlong pole, then galloped a mile. With his ears pricked, Conquest Mo Money went easily at a decent clip.

    "He felt real good today," Carreno said. "He liked the track."

    Conquest Mo Money, whom McKenna purchased for $8,500 at the Conquest Stables dispersal at Keeneland in November, began his career with three straight wins at Sunland Park this winter, including a pair of $100,000 stakes, the Mine That Bird Derby and the Riley Allison.

    Although Conquest Mo Money has good early speed, he was seventh early in the Sunland Derby before making a move on the final turn of the 1 1/8-mile race that carried him to the lead. But he flattened out in the final furlong and finished second, beaten 3 3/4 lengths by Hence, who went on to finish 11th in the Kentucky Derby and is scheduled to run back in the Preakness.

    "I think he may have moved too soon," Hernandez said.

    Conquest Mo Money battled hard on the front end of the Arkansas Derby before being caught by Classic Empire in deep stretch.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  5. #50
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    Armadillo: Friday's six-pack

    — Kansas City Chiefs went 12-4 last year; still, 33-year old QB Alex Smith thinks the Chiefs will dump him after this coming season and go with Patrick Mahomes.

    — Who knew that the Rockies-Twins series this week would be a matchup of first-place teams?

    — Angels bolstered their pitching staff by adding veteran hurler Doug Fister.

    — Among active players with 300+ PA, Dustin Pedroia (.328) has the highest batting average in interleague games.

    — Miami Marlins will be sold soon, either to Jeb Bush’s group or one led by Mitt Romney’s son. Good luck fixing that payroll.

    — In 1976, a guy named Ronald Wayne sold his 10% stake in Apple for $800. Today it would be worth $80 billion- thats billion, with a B.

    **********

    Armadillo: Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here……..

    13) Bad news for my Rams (and the Chargers); there has been so much rain in Los Angeles this year that excavation at the construction of the new stadium in Inglewood has been delayed- the opening date for the new stadium has been pushed back until the 2020 football season.

    12) One small quirk here; the Super Bowl after the 2020 season is supposed to be in this stadium, but NFL rules say a stadium can’t host a Super Bowl in the first year it is open. We’ll see about that.

    11) More LA Coliseum news; the Coliseum has apparently sold its naming rights to United Airlines; hopefully this doesn’t mean fans will get dragged out of the stadium by their feet if games are sold out.

    10) Jose Altuve had two doubles and two triples Wednesday, the first major leaguer to do that since Carl Crawford in 2005. Oddly, Altuve didn’t score a run despite the four extra-base hits.

    9) There are seven schools in the SEC West; all seven of their football coaches make $4M+ a year. Boosters at the schools who finish 6th and 7th ain’t gonna be happy.

    8) Jalen Poyser has transferred from UNLV to St Bonaventure; there are very few places in this country more different than Las Vegas and Olean, NY.

    Mountain West and Atlantic 14 are very similarly-ranked leagues. Poyser is from Ontario so he is a lot closer to home now. He should be a much stronger kid by time he is eligible to play in 2018-19.

    7) New York Mets’ starting pitchers have an ERA of 5.13 this season, 14th in the 15-team NL, which is really hard to believe, given the level of hype their pitchers get.

    6) Bad news for the Atlanta Braves; star 1B Freddie Freeman has a broken wrist, is out 8-10 weeks. He was hit by a pitch Wednesday night.

    5) Miguel Cabrera will miss the next couple of games with an oblique strain, which I think used to be called an abdominal muscle. Not having many muscles myself, I’m not totally sure.

    4) Weird story of the day: A Girl Scout leader in Kentucky absconded with $15,000 in Girl Scout cookies and is now on the lam. What makes people do stuff like this?

    3) A writer in California who used to write jokes for Jay Leno is suing Conan O’Brien for stealing at least five jokes from him in 2014-15. Stealing jokes is no laughing matter.

    2) In the NBA this season, 77.2% of free throws were made, the highest percentage ever. Last year, 11 of 12 teams in the WNBA shot higher than 77.2% on the foul line- Connecticut shot 71.5% on the foul line. Seven of 12 WNBA teams shot higher than 80% on the charity stripe last year.

    In the NBA this season, 35.8% of 3-pointers were made. Only three of 12 WNBA teams shot better than that on the arc last season, even though the basketball is smaller and the arc is slightly closer than in the NBA.

    1) Somebody didn’t vote Russell Westbrook 1st team all-NBA this season; this person needs to be identified, because thats just dumb. They should probably lose their voting rights, too.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  6. #51
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    Lookin At Lee eyes Preakness glory after strong run in Derby
    May 18, 2017


    BALTIMORE (AP) Charging hard down the stretch, Lookin At Lee barely missed winning the Kentucky Derby as a 33-1 long shot.

    His second-place finish seemingly impressed no one.

    Lookin at Lee has received little attention at Pimlico Race Course this week and is a 10-1 underdog in the Preakness behind Always Dreaming, the 4-5 favorite in Saturday's race after outlasting Lookin At Lee by a mere 2 3/4 lengths at Churchill Downs.

    What gives?

    ''We don't worry about that too much,'' Lookin at Lee assistant trainer Scott Blasi said after Wednesday's draw. ''He's a blue-collar horse and probably easy to overlook, but he's not for us.''

    Lookin At Lee hasn't won a race since last August but has finished in the money in seven of 10 career races. On April 15, Lookin At Lee finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Classic Empire and a length behind runner-up Conquest Mo Money in the Arkansas Derby.

    He's a gritty competitor, which goes a long way toward explaining his impressive run in the slop two weeks ago.

    ''His personality and gamesmanship are what gave us confidence in him going into the Derby,'' trainer Steve Asmussen said. ''You have no control over how the other horses run, but you always feel Lookin At Lee is going to do his best.''

    Lookin At Lee was ridden expertly in Kentucky by jockey Corey Lanerie, who never sat on the horse until hopping on board in the paddock before the Derby. Lanerie rallied the bay colt along the rail, passing most of the field before coming up short at the end.

    At one point, he thought: ''I'm going to win the Derby!''

    It almost happened, but ...

    ''Always Dreaming just wouldn't come back,'' Lanerie said. ''You come so close and you don't get it done, it's tough. But to run second on only my third Kentucky Derby mount, it was pretty special.''

    Though the odds maker at Pimlico may not have been impressed, Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Always Dreaming, expects another close race on Saturday.

    ''I think he's a very good horse,'' Pletcher said of Lookin At Lee. ''He ran a terrific race in the Kentucky Derby. We were fortunate to win. I thought he ran a very good second, so that makes him certainly a horse you have to keep your eye on for this race.''

    Speaking from experience, Blasi expects Lookin At Lee to build on his showing at Churchill Downs.

    ''Very proud of his effort in the Derby,'' Blasi said. ''Historically, I think the horses that have run well in the Derby run back well in the Preakness. We've won this race twice with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, both coming back off two weeks rest, and we're very familiar and very comfortable with what's getting ready to happen.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  7. #52
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    Preakness Stakes Breakdown
    May 18, 2017


    The second leg of the "Triple Crown" is set and the field is ready for the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes!

    Preakness Stakes ML Odds

    2017 BREAKDOWN

    PP - Horse ML Odds Jockey (Preakness Record) Trainer (Preakness Record)

    1 - Multiplier 30/1 Joel Rosario (0-4) Brendan Walsh (Debut)


    Notes: Broke his maiden in his third start at the Fair Grounds before taking the Illinois Derby in a sharp time going nine furlongs while making his stakes debut. He’s been sold between starts but his trainer has had him for all four tries. He’s improved in each of his starts but he’ll have to make a big jump to compete here and I don’t think he beat much last out. I’m passing.

    2 - Cloud Computing 12/1 Javier Castellano (1-5) Chad Brown (Debut)

    Notes: He’ll be making just the fourth start of his career and is still eligible for an entry level allowance contest but consider this: he was second in the Gotham, the prep that yielded the highest Beyer Speed Figure on the Derby Trail in just the second start of his career. Then he ran third and made up ground to do so in the Wood Memorial on a day where speed reigned supreme. Castellano upset this with “new shooter” Bernardini in 2006 and asked off Gunnevera to ride this guy. An obvious player from some of the sharpest connections in the game. I’m using him in all of my wagers.

    3 - Hence 20/1 Florent Geroux (0-1) Steve Asmussen (2-5)

    Notes: For the life of me, I will never understand the fascination people have with this horse. I wish I could have booked every dollar on him in Louisville, as 15-1 was an awful price on a horse I thought had zero chance. He got beat over 18 lengths and did hardly any running. Guess what? I don’t like him in here either AND I think he’s going to take some more “wiseguy” money.

    4 - Always Dreaming 4/5 John Velazquez (0-7) Todd Pletcher (0-8)

    Notes: He’s a perfect four for four with Pletcher, all around two turns. He won the Derby decisively, sitting just off the early pacesetter before opening up a sizeable lead and holding sway throughout the Churchill stretch. He should get a similar trip here. He’s your prohibitive Preakness favorite. There are the pros. Here are the cons. Churchill was a “no pass zone” for the three days leading up to and including the Derby. Battle of Midway was third past the wire the first AND final time. They couldn’t have dreamed up, pun intended, a better scenario for him. Pletcher has run 5200 horses over the past five years. Only two of them started with less than 15 days rest. The fact that both lost is unimportant. It just shows that it’s not something the barn does. Maybe he is THAT good and can overcome that. You want to take 4-5 to find out? I don’t. Look, he can obviously win but I honestly don’t think he will. I’ll use him protectively in a saver pick 4 ticket or two and in some exotic wagers but I hope he runs the way most Pletcher Preakness runners have in the past.

    5 - Classic Empire 3/1 Julien Leparoux (0-7) Mark Casse (0-3)

    Notes: Of all the trips in the Derby, the juvenile champ had the worst, save bucking bronco Thunder Snow. Slammed at start, jostled about, spun wide the entire way…..what might have been had he gotten a clean trip. He ran a dynamite race when you consider everything he went through leading up to the event. But that is the past. We have to worry about now. You’ll hear a lot about Always Dreaming having to deal with just two weeks between efforts but this guy has to deal too. Simply put, do you believe he’s the trip horse out of the Derby or is he the trap? EVERYONE saw what we did so he’ll easily be the second choice. And I just don’t feel comfy making him my top pick. He is an obvious contender and will be on all of my tickets.

    6 - Gunnevera 15/1 Mike Smith (1-15) Antonio Sano (Debut)

    Notes: More and more I see of him, the more I think that Fountain of Youth explosion is the exception and not the rule. Granted, he didn’t have the best trip in the Derby, put quite a few had worse. He just never fired. And while he gets “Money Mike” in the saddle, what does it say that Castellano jumped ship almost immediately after the Derby to ride Cloud Computing? A slave to pace, he’d really need things to collapse for him to have a chance and that usually doesn’t happen here. I’m passing on him.

    7 - Term of Art 30/1 Jose Ortiz (Debut) Doug O’Neill (1-3)

    Notes: An also-ran all winter and spring long in SoCal, he’ll get a rider change to one of the more aggressive jockeys in the game. Problem is, he doesn’t have an ounce of speed. If JO gets him near the lead, he’s Houdini. He has a wonderful pedigree but he hasn’t run to it in his previous nine tries. Why should I think he’s going to wake up in Baltimore, of all places? He’s no I’ll Have Another, O’Neill’s winner from 2012, that’s for sure. Not for me.

    8 - Senior Investment 30/1 Channing Hill (Debut) Kenny McPeek (0-3)


    Notes: Stormed home to take the Lexington over at Keeneland five weeks ago against a suspect bunch. He’s really improved since McPeek added Lasix but I’m always dubious of these horses that winter at the Fair Grounds. His big late rally makes you think he’s going to relish the added distance of the classic races but I don’t think he’s anything more than a decent, middle distance type. Pass.

    9 - Lookin At Lee 10/1 Corey Lanerie (0-1) Steve Asmussen (2-5)

    Notes: He came less than three lengths away from making me look like a genius in Louisville as I said for months that the Derby had the feel of a horse like him picking up the pieces and paying $65. Well, he’d have paid $68.40 if he could have just run down Always Dreaming but he couldn’t. The rail draw last out, as I expected, was a blessing, as they couldn’t have gotten a better trip. He simply wasn’t good enough. Unfortunately, I think that is this guy’s destiny. He’ll probably never be quite good enough to win. But he always gets a piece. I’ll use him underneath.

    10 - Conquest Mo Money 15/1 Jorge Carreno (Debut) Miguel Hernandez (Debut)

    Notes: I’m going to get a lot of grief and ribbing for this, but he’s my pick to win the Preakness. There is very little early pace in here, save this guy, who is easily at his best when free-wheeling on the front end. Always Dreaming and Johnny V will be more than happy to use him as a target and I don’t see any of the others in here pressing him early, unless the Classic Empire camp has other ideas, which I think is unlikely. If he gets in front early and I’m right about Always Dreaming, who I truly believe will be calling it a day by the quarter pole, he’ll have a decent-sized lead into the stretch. All he has to do is close the door. Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. I’m willing to find out at 25-1 or so.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  8. #53
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    Pletcher ready to approach Preakness
    May 18, 2017


    BALTIMORE (AP) The Preakness has never been Todd Pletcher's race.

    Sure, it's the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. But Pletcher has made a habit of skipping Baltimore in order to beat the pack to his home base of New York after the Kentucky Derby and await the Belmont.

    The Preakness' position two weeks after the Derby is too soon for Pletcher. He prefers giving his horses more rest between starts. He's 0 for 8 in the race, with his best finish being third with Impeachment in 2000.

    Of course, it's become incumbent for the trainer of the Derby winner to bring the champ to Pimlico for a shot at making a Triple Crown bid. So Pletcher is here with Always Dreaming and he's enjoying himself in his customarily restrained way.

    He's wolfing down crab cakes at every opportunity and offering up local restaurant tips to anyone who asks.

    ''He never was a real charismatic, funny person,'' mentor and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, ''but he always handled himself well.''

    And his horses even better.

    Pletcher has won Eclipse Awards seven times as the nation's leading trainer, including four in a row. He has won nine Breeders' Cup races and four Triple Crown races, while finishing second or third 13 other times.

    ''He was going to be good if he never met me,'' said Lukas, the career leader with 14 Triple Crown victories, who employed Pletcher as assistant for seven years until he went out on his own in 1995.

    Always Dreaming has surprised Pletcher in how quickly the dark bay colt bounced back from his 2}-length victory in the Derby on May 6. He galloped 1+ miles on a warm, muggy Thursday and will jog on Friday because ''that's what we did the day before the Derby,'' Pletcher said.

    ''The tank seems full and he seems eager to go,'' he said.

    Always Dreaming is the first Derby horse Pletcher has run in the Preakness since Super Saver in 2010. That colt earned Pletcher his first Derby victory before finishing eighth in the Preakness.

    Never one to ignore lessons learned, Pletcher is using his experience with Super Saver to guide Always Dreaming's preparation. He gave Super Saver a breeze - or timed workout - between the first two Triple Crown races. He didn't with Always Dreaming.

    ''The two weeks is a quick turnaround, and sometimes you don't know until they get in the stretch and you see what you have in reserve,'' he said. ''We're just trying to keep it as simple as possible. We're not overthinking it. We're just letting the horse gallop and be happy.''

    Pletcher sent Always Dreaming to Pimlico three days after the Derby, wanting to give the colt known for some aggressive behavior in the mornings a chance to get used to his new surroundings well before race day. It was quiet around Pimlico last week, when Always Dreaming practiced standing in the starting gate and visiting the paddock area where he will be saddled indoors on Saturday.

    ''I like the way he's behaving around the barn,'' Pletcher said. ''He's quiet in the stall. When he gets on the track, he's strong but in a good way. We don't want to see him get too excited and step on himself.''

    Always Dreaming will have nine rivals in the race, including four that ran in the Derby.

    If the colt is showing an eagerness to compete again, so is Pletcher.

    ''I just want the race to get here,'' he said. ''He's doing so good.''

    Despite overseeing a stable that runs in races nationwide, Pletcher is single-minded in his approach with each horse in his barn. So don't even get him started on talk of winning the Triple Crown.

    ''Let's hope that Sunday morning we wake up and have to think about that,'' he said.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Conquest Mo Money looks to cash in
    May 18, 2017

    BALTIMORE (AP) Conquest Mo Money could be in line for a big payday Saturday in the $1.5 million Preakness.

    He drew the outside post in a field of 10 as a 15-1 shot in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

    Regardless of the Preakness outcome, Conquest Mo Money is already a winner for New Mexico-based owner Tom McKenna, 81, who paid only $8,500 for the colt last November at the dispersal sale of Conquest Stable horses.

    It was a bargain-basement price for a New York-bred colt that Conquest acquired for $180,000 one year earlier.

    Unraced before this season, Conquest Mo Money already has earned $508,900. He won his first three races at Sunland Park and finished second in his last two, the Sunland Derby and the Arkansas Derby.

    He had enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but McKenna decided to wait for the Preakness. And he was willing to reinvest a chunk of the horse's earnings to get here.

    Conquest Mo Money was not nominated to the Triple Crown. The supplemental penalty was a hefty $150,000.

    Early speed is Conquest Mo Money's strong suit. He set a pressured pace in the Arkansas Derby, beaten only a half-length by Classic Empire, last season's juvenile champion.

    Classic Empire went on to the Kentucky Derby, finishing fourth in the slop following a rough trip.

    Classic Empire and Conquest Mo Money meet again in the Preakness, with both aiming to knock off Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

    While the Derby action unfolded at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, Conquest Mo Money was quietly prepping for the Preakness at Prairie Meadows. He arrived in Baltimore on Sunday following a two-day van ride from Iowa and seems to be thriving at Pimlico.

    ''He's the first horse like this that I've had in my career,'' said Jorge Carreno, the regular rider who has exercised the colt each morning this week. ''We get along so well that it's like we're just one. It's amazing. He just gets better and better.''

    This will be the first appearance in a Triple Crown race for the owner, the jockey and trainer Miguel Hernandez.

    Conquest Mo Money would not be the first horse from New Mexico to pull a Triple Crown stunner. Mine That Bird was the 50-1 upset winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby. He went on to finish second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Dreaming, Empire draw adjacent posts
    May 18, 2017


    BALTIMORE -- The connections of Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming and chief rival Classic Empire are treating Saturday's 10-horse Preakness Stakes like a match-race shootout.

    Always Dreaming, ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez and the early 4-5 favorite, will break from the fourth post with Classic Empire right next door at No. 5.

    "It's an ideal spot for Classic Empire," conceded Always Dreaming trainer Todd Pletcher, whom, despite winning seven Eclipse Awards, is looking to saddle his first Preakness champion. "If I were them I'd be happy with that post.

    "I would imagine they're going to target us. The target is right next to you. So it probably gives them a little tactical advantage."

    There are other quality colts in the $1.5 million, mile and three-sixteenths race, like Lookin At Lee, a 33-1 Derby longshot who found his footing late and finished second, and Gunnevera, winner of the Grade II the Fountain of Youth in March who finished seventh at Churchill Downs two weeks ago.

    But the 130,000 expected to attend the Preakness under a forecast of near-perfect weather conditions at Pimlico Race Course could be treated to a stretch duel reminiscent of Sunday Silence and Easy Goer in 1989.

    At least that's the way handlers of the top two horses appear to see it.

    Classic Empire trainer Mark Casse said starting one spot outside of Always Dreaming puts his jockey, Julien Leparoux, in the driver's seat to stalk his adversary.

    "If Julien thinks Always Dreaming is running too easy (out of the gate), he'll go up and engage him earlier," Casse said. "If he thinks he's running, he'll sit back... Always Dreaming is obviously a very good horse. We just want a fair shot at him."

    Classic Empire, the 3-1 second choice in the morning line, won the Arkansas Derby last month but was jostled while breaking from the 14th post in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby at muddy Churchill Downs and finished fourth.

    How much the difficult trip in Louisville hurt the Kentucky-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile remains to be seen.

    Always Dreaming, winner of all four of his races this year, captured the Kentucky Derby by two lengths after winning the Florida Derby by five. Should the dark bay colt win on Saturday, the son of 2012 Preakness runner-up

    Bodemeister will have a chance to complete the coveted Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 10.

    Pletcher said Always Dreaming had a "very strong, enthusiastic" gallop of about one mile early Thursday.

    "The horse is doing unbelievably well in the two-week turnaround (from the Derby)," Pletcher said. "The way he's moving, the way he's acting, the way he's getting over the track, we feel really blessed that he's coming into the race this way.

    "I'm someone who has been in a lot of races and lost a lot of races, so I know you don't want to be overconfident. But I do feel very, very good about the way he's coming into it."

    Among those also in the field are: Cloud Computing, who finished third in the Grade II Wood Memorial; Conquest Mo Money, beaten by Classic Empire by a half-length at the Arkansas Derby; Multiplier, champion of the Grade III Illinois Derby; and Senior Investment, who won the Grade III Lexington Stakes.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Lukas backs Pletcher in Preakness
    May 19, 2017


    BALTIMORE (AP) There once was a time when Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas would feel absolutely awful about not having a horse in the Preakness.

    Standing outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course on Thursday, his signature cowboy hat planted squarely on his head, the six-time Preakness winner seemed genuinely comfortable with the situation.

    ''I'd be awful selfish if I was kicking the dirt and saying, `Damn, I don't have one,' as good as this place has been to me,'' Lukas said.

    Though he doesn't have a horse in the race, he does have a friend in it: Former assistant Todd Pletcher, who will be saddle Kentucky Derby winner and Triple Crown hopeful Always Dreaming on Saturday evening.

    ''I can relish that and enjoy that, too,'' Lukas said.

    That's what happened at Churchill Downs, when Lukas had no entrant but was overcome with joy while watching Always Dreaming approach the finish line.

    ''I went crazy when they were at the 5/8 pole,'' Lukas said. ''I was banging and tipping over chairs. My wife said, `I've never seen you that excited,' and I said, `That's our guy.'''

    Pletcher worked under Lukas for well over half a decade before going out on his own in the winter of 1995.

    ''We had the strongest stable in the world, probably, and to leave a secure assistant job was a tough decision to make - and an intimidating one,'' Pletcher recalled. ''I didn't really know what to expect. I was just hoping to accumulate enough horses to get going and establish a reputation.''

    Turns out, Lukas and Pletcher are as successful individually as they were as a team.

    Lukas, 81, has won 14 Triple Crown races and owns 20 victories in the Breeder's Cup. Pletcher has captured the Eclipse Award seven times as Trainer of the Year, won the Kentucky Derby twice and made millions of dollars.

    ''He's created his own legacy and made some changes that he thought were right,'' Lukas observed. ''I see a lot of our organization in the way he runs his barn. It's pretty obvious he had that discipline.''

    Lukas knows his hard-working, success-driven prot�g� was bound to do well regardless of his schooling.

    ''I don't want to take a lot of credit for his career, frankly,'' Lukas insisted. ''I think he's his own person and he was going to be good if he never met me. And he probably helped me as much as I helped him.''

    Pletcher isn't so sure.

    ''If you work for someone for seven years, you certainly learn a lot of things from him,'' the 49-year-old said. ''I always thought one of his many strengths was when he got a horse in form, his ability to maintain them in form for a long time.''

    Lukas this week is running 3-year-old Aquamarine in the $200,000 Chick Lang and 3-year-old filly My Sweet Stella in the Hilltop on grass. Both are owned by Zayat Stables, which two years ago won the Preakness with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

    Though he's well past retirement age, Lukas remains active in the sport and fully expects to mount a horse in the 2018 Preakness.

    ''My 2-years-old are impressing me,'' he said. ''I think we'll be back here next year, I really do.''

    Lukas and Pletcher remain close friends and won't hesitate to call upon one another for advice. If Lukas could impress upon Pletcher just one thing, it would be to savor the moment and take it all in.

    ''I don't think he's enjoying it as much as he should,'' Lukas said. ''That was one of the things I regretted through my career. There were some weekends when we won three or four Grade 1s and I would say, `What are we going to do next week?'''

    Lukas recalls winning a Preakness and then driving to a fast-food joint in Baltimore, where he ate chicken while sitting alone.

    ''There were a couple of young guys there saying, `That looks like the guy who won the Preakness,''' Lukas said. ''Pretty soon they came over and we're all having chicken together.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    At the Gate - Friday
    May 18, 2017


    Over the next two days at Pimlico we have 28 races to wager on, 15 of those races stakes, starting with six on Friday’s 14-race card that gets underway at 11:30 am ET.

    The highlight on Friday’s card is the $250,000 Black Eyed Susan (G2) for three-year-old fillies that drew a well-matched field of 11.

    I landed on Summer Luck, who did not get much pace to run at in a fifth-place finish in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland in her last outing. The Mark Casse trainee has jockey Javier Castellano aboard and her 5-1 morning line looks fair enough.

    The 10th race is the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint and the 11-year-old Ben’s Cat is seeking his fifth straight win in the race and sixth overall.

    Trained by King T. Leatherbury, the old timer has won 32 of his 61 career starts and has earned $2.6 million in his career.

    The gelding is one of the most popular racehorses in Maryland and I have a hunch he will go off at less than his 6-1 morning line. He came back off a seven-month layoff with a fifth-place finish in allowance company, not getting much room to run in the stretch.

    The $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for three-year-old fillies drew a full field of 14 along with one also-eligible. Our Majesty is the 7-2 morning line favorite coming off a sharp win against first level allowance company at Keeneland.

    The $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) will be run for the 47th time and has bene won by some great ones including War Admiral, Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Citation, Cigar, Skip Away and Real Quiet.

    This year’s edition goes through Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Shaman Ghost, who is the 4-5 morning line favorite.

    Terra Promessa is the 6-5 morning line favorite for the $150,000 Allaire Dupont Distaff (G3) and the $100,000 Hilltop drew a competitive field of 13 three-year-old fillies that will go a mile on turf.

    To purchase my Preakness Package for Friday and Saturday click here.

    Now would be a good time to get my Monthly Package, which includes my Preakness Day and Belmont Stakes Day Reports as well as my daily Belmont Park Reports and Best Plays each weekend.

    Here is the opening race from Pimlico to get the day off to a good start:

    PIM Race 1 OClm $25,000N2X (11:30 ET)

    #5 Zippity Zoom 5-2
    #3 Everlasting Secret 4-1
    #4 My Magician 6-1
    #2 Summer House 9-2

    Analysis: Zippity Zoom is back on the main track here after tracking the early pace and weakening to finish fifth at this level over good turf. The mare w beaten just a neck two back on the main track at Laurel Park in a game effort behind our third choice in here. The Rice barn is 31% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners form turf to dirt. The barn has been very live the past few months and has picked up a win and a second from her first three starters. The surface switch should suit this gal.

    Everlasting Secret set the early fractions, opened up a lead heading for home and got run down late, settling for the runner up spot at this level last July at Laurel Park. She passed her first allowance condition two back which was off a seven-month layoff. The Eppler barn has won with 3 of 11 coming back off a +180 day layoff. She has worked quickly for her return with a couple of bullet works on the morning tab.

    Wagering
    WIN: #5 to win at 9-5 or better.
    EX: 3,5 / 2,3,4,5
    TRI: 3,5 / 2,3,4,5 / 2,3,4,5,8

    Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Pimlico:

    PIM Race 11 The Black Eyed Susan G2 (4:50 ET)

    #9 Summer Luck 5-1
    #7 Moana 4-1
    #3 Dancing Rags 4-1
    #1 Shimmering Aspen 9-2

    Analysis: Summer Luck raced at the back of the pack early and made up some ground late to finish fifth last out in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland, not getting much early pace to run into. Two back the filly came with a good late rally to finish a close up third in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park. The winner Miss Sky Warrior came back to win the gazelle (G2) at Aqueduct in her next outing on April 8. The Casse trainee is going to get some pace to run at in this spot and the extra ground as she stretches out to nine furlongs for the it time.

    Moana is one of two in here sent out by the Pletcher barn that has won this race three times, most recently with Stopchargingmaria in 2014. This $300,000 Ocala purchase faces winners for the first time after a good looking maiden score last out at Keeneland going two turns in her second career start. She is by Uncle Mo out of a stakes placed More Than Ready mare and still looks as if she has a ton of upside.

    Dancing Rags was off poorly last out in the seven furlong Beaumont (G3) at Keeneland in her first start off a five-month layoff. She won the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland last fall and then was not a threat in an eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The Motion barn is 17% winners moving runners from sprint to route. She should move forward with a better break and the stretch out.

    Wagering
    WIN: #9 to win at 4-1 or better.
    EX: 7,9 / 1,3,7,9
    TRI: 7,9 / 1,3,7,9 / 1,3,7,9,11

    Live Longshots:
    These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.

    Pimlico

    R3: #1 Thirst for Truth 8-1
    R4: #10 Canny 8-1
    R5: #1 Power of Snunner 8-1
    R6: #8 Conscription 12-1
    R7: #1 Dolphus 8-1
    R7: #2 Eagle 8-1
    R8: #12 Happy Mesa 8-1
    R8: #1 Dance Queen 8-1
    R9: #11 Astrollinthepark 8-1
    R10: #3 Grandiflore 20-1
    R13: #1 Advert 12-1
    R13: #1 Lovable Lady 10-1
    R14: #2 Lashkarina 8-1

    Good luck today!
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Long-shot Actress wins Black-Eyed Susan
    May 19, 2017


    BALTIMORE (AP) Sloshing in the mud with visions of an upset, Nik Juarez guided long-shot Actress through a memorable maiden-breaking voyage Friday in the Black-Eyed Susan.

    After a sudden and intense rainstorm turned the track at Pimlico Race Course into a sloppy mess, Actress outlasted Lights of Medina by a head to win the $250,000 race for 3-year-old fillies in front of a record crowd of 50,339. That topped last year's total of 47,956.

    It was the first victory for Actress following a pair of second-place finishes in the first three races of her career. Trained by Jason Servis, the filly paid $27.60, $10.60 and $7.80 at nearly 13-1 odds.

    Total wagering on the 14-race program was a record $19.895 million, up 6 percent over last year's old mark of $18.661 million.

    After previously running six and seven furlongs, Actress found her groove at 1 1/8 miles. At the quarter-pole, she was next-to-last before rallying along the rail and easing to the outside. While doing that, she nearly ran up the heels of the horses in front of her before regrouping and finding a clear path.

    ''They were running fast up front and I was sitting behind,'' Juarez said. ''She ate the dirt up. When she made her move, she really started running and carried it on.''

    Lights of Medina, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Feargal Lynch, beat third-place finisher Corporate Queen by two lengths.

    Like Actress, Lights of Medina made up plenty of distance in the latter stages of the race. But she didn't have enough of a push to overtake the winner.

    ''She just missed a head bob,'' Pletcher said. ''It was a great effort by her.''

    Pletcher also trains Moana, who finished fifth. He can only hope for better results Saturday, when he saddles Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming in the Preakness.

    A beautiful day at Pimlico changed quickly about an hour before post-time for the Black-Eyed Susan. After a fierce rain sent fans scurrying for cover, thunderclaps rang in the distance as the horses prepared to enter the starting gate.

    Though the rain let up before the start, the horses galloped through huge puddles during an intriguing race.

    Corporate Queen was left far behind at the outset, was still the trailer at the half-mile pole and eighth in the stretch before finishing strong.

    ''It took her a little bit to figure it out,'' trainer Ron Moquett said. ''We didn't even know if she was going to try, and then she did.''

    Favorite Shimmering Aspen finished seventh in the 11-horse field and Summer Luck, third choice in the wagering, was eighth.

    Earlier in the day, heavily favored Shaman Ghost stormed past stablemate Dolphus in the final eighth of a mile to win the $300,000 Pimlico Special by a neck.

    Ridden by Javier Castellano, Shaman Ghost won for the eighth time in 16 career races. He paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10.

    ''I could have gone to the lead any time,'' Castellano said, ''but I didn't want to.''

    Conquest Windycity finished third.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Preakness offers encouraging news
    May 19, 2017


    Recent history suggests Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming has a good shot at winning the Preakness on Saturday.

    Always Dreaming will attempt to be the fourth Kentucky Derby winner in the last six years to finish first in the Preakness. In fact, seven of the last 15 Kentucky Derby victors also went on to win the second leg of the Triple Crown two weeks later.

    Here's a rundown at how the last 15 Kentucky Derby winners fared in the Preakness. Their Preakness finish is in parentheses.

    2002: War Emblem (1st)

    Notes: War Emblem posted a three-quarter length victory over Magic Weisner. War Emblem went on to finish eighth in the Belmont Stakes, which was won by Sarava.

    2003: Funny Cide (1st)

    Notes: Funny Cide won the Preakness by 9 } lengths over Midway Road. Funny Cide finished third in the Belmont Stakes and was five lengths behind Empire Maker, which hadn't run in the Preakness.

    2004: Smarty Jones (1st)

    Notes: Smarty Jones won the Preakness by a record 11 + lengths over second-place Rock Hard Ten. Smarty Jones also led the Belmont Stakes for much of the way before getting passed late in the race and losing by a length to Birdstone.

    2005: Giacomo (3rd)

    Notes: Giacomo was a surprise winner of the Kentucky Derby while overcoming 50-1 odds. Giacomo got stuck with an outside post in the Preakness and finished 9 } lengths behind the favored Afleet Alex.

    2006: Barbaro (Injured)


    Notes: Barbaro broke down at the start of the Preakness and had a fracture above and below his right rear ankle. Barbaro was euthanized several months later due to complications from that injury. The 2006 Preakness winner was Bernardini.

    2007: Street Sense (2nd)

    Notes: Street Sense led the Preakness during the stretch run and appeared on the way to victory before Curlin pulled ahead on the final stride.

    2008: Big Brown (1st)

    Notes: Big Brown rolled to victory by 5 \\ lengths over Macho Again in the Preakness before finishing last out of the nine entrants in the Belmont Stakes.

    2009: Mine That Bird (2nd)

    Notes: After winning the Kentucky Derby as a 50-1 long shot, Mine That Bird finished a length behind Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness. Rachel Alexandra became the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years. Calvin Borel was the jockey for Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby and Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.

    2010: Super Saver (8th)

    Notes: Super Saver headed into the Preakness as the favorite but faded and finished eighth out of 12 entrants. Lookin At Lucky won the Preakness.

    2011: Animal Kingdom (2nd)

    Notes: Animal Kingdom made a late charge but finished just behind Shackleford in the Preakness.

    2012: I'll Have Another (1st)

    Notes: Just as he had done in the Kentucky Derby, I'll Have Another came from behind to edge Bodemeister in the Preakness. The margins of victory were 1 + lengths in the Derby and a neck in the Preakness. I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont Stakes because of a swollen tendon.

    2013: Orb (4th)

    Notes: Orb started on the rail and was never in contention at the Preakness, which was won by Oxbow.

    2014: California Chrome (1st)

    Notes: California Chrome held off a late threat from Ride On Curlin to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. California Chrome tied for fourth place in the Belmont Stakes, which was won by Tonalist.

    2015: American Pharaoh (1st)

    Notes: American Pharaoh won by seven lengths in the Preakness and then went on to finish first in the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

    2016: Nyquist (3rd)

    Notes: Exaggerator surged down the stretch to win the Preakness by 3 + lengths. Nyquist finished third, just behind Cherry Wine.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    My Exacta:

    4 - Always Dreaming
    5 - Classic Empire
    9 - Lookin At Lee 20 across WPS

    With

    2 - Cloud Computing
    3 - Hence
    4 - Always Dreaming
    5 - Classic Empire
    6 - Gunnevera
    9 - Lookin At Lee


    Trifecta:

    4 - Always Dreaming
    5 - Classic Empire
    9 - Lookin At Lee

    With

    2 - Cloud Computing
    3 - Hence
    4 - Always Dreaming
    5 - Classic Empire
    6 - Gunnevera
    9 - Lookin At Lee

    With

    2 - Cloud Computing
    3 - Hence
    4 - Always Dreaming
    5 - Classic Empire
    6 - Gunnevera
    9 - Lookin At Lee
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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