05/17/2017 5:56PM

Bernier: Preakness analysis

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cloud Computing is capable of springing a surprise in the Preakness.

The Preakness Stakes historically has been dominated by runners exiting the Kentucky Derby, but this year a couple of new shooters present interesting cases if you are inclined to take a shot against the likely favorites.

Chad Brown has accomplished a lot in his career, but a victory in an American classic has eluded him. That could change Saturday, when he sends out CLOUD COMPUTING in the Preakness. Cloud Computing is a lightly raced son of Maclean’s Music out of an A.P. Indy mare, and it’s safe to assume that his best racing is ahead of him. His tactical speed should allow Javier Castellano to position Cloud Computing just off the likely pacesetters, Conquest Mo Money and ALWAYS DREAMING, obtaining the ideal stalking trip.

Always Dreaming was a deserving winner of the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago and deserves to be the overwhelming favorite in the Preakness. Todd Pletcher is one of the greatest trainers we’ve ever seen in North American racing, but his preference for giving horses time between starts shouldn’t be overlooked in a situation like this. Pletcher typically doesn’t wheel horses back in two weeks, and it’s something to consider with a horse who is likely to go off in the vicinity of 3-5. The best thing about Always Dreaming is his early speed; he’s obviously dangerous if left alone on the lead, but he might be even better sitting off a target.

CLASSIC EMPIRE endured a difficult trip in the Kentucky Derby, and a more favorable situation Saturday could see last year’s 2-year-old male champion regain his best form. After being sideswiped exiting the starting gate at Churchill Downs, this Mark Casse trainee was bounced around in and among horses throughout. After a mild bid turning for home, he flattened out down the lane, understandably tiring. Without much early pace signed on in the Preakness, expect Julien Leparoux to have Classic Empire much closer to the pace from the moment the gates break. From a wagering perspective, he appears to be a clear-cut second choice, possibly around 2-1 at post time.

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LOOKIN AT LEE is one of the more honest horses in this year’s Preakness. Through his first 10 starts, Lookin At Lee has never regressed on the Beyer Speed Figure scale, steadily improving in each start. A true one-run closer, this son of 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky received a masterful ride from Corey Lanerie in the Derby, scraping the paint the entire way before angling out late to finish a strong second. A less-advantageous pace scenario appears likely here, but it would be dangerous to leave him off your exotic tickets.