Retired jockey Richard Migliore, who works as a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, offers his expertise from the perspective of a professional rider in a regular feature for America's Best Racing — Monday Morning Mig. A winner of 4,450 career races and the 1981 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice will review key races on the Triple Crown trail and the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, providing his thoughts leading into the race, insights about what happened during the running of the race and key takeaways from the outcome.
Here, Migliore takes a closer look at the May 20 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
1. Post Positions: Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands winner Always Dreaming and last year’s champion 2-year-old male Classic Empire both drew well with Posts 4 and 5 respectively, but being drawn side by side may have ultimately been their undoing. As dominant as Always Dreaming was winning the Derby, I thought he would repeat in the Preakness.
2. The Start: As expected, Always Dreaming went to the front out of the gate and Classic Empire was aggressively ridden to gain forward position. Unexpectedly, Conquest Mo Money failed to produce his normal speed, leaving Classic Empire to keep Always Dreaming honest on the front end.
3. The Big Move: Javier Castellano, who was aboard the lightly-raced but very talented Cloud Computing, got his position going forward into the first turn, which enabled him to sit in the perfect trip behind the dueling leaders. The second Big Move was Julien Leparoux riding Classic Empire aggressively to keep pressure on the favorite Always Dreaming.
4. The Big Miss: Leparoux's Big Move may have ultimately also been his Big Miss. Through no fault of his own, when Conquest Mo Money failed to challenge for the lead early, it left Leparoux in the unenviable position of making Classic Empire the pace presser. I think Leparoux is being unfairly criticized in some respects. How could he leave Always Dreaming alone on the front end after his dominant Derby victory?
5. The Finish: I really believed Always Dreaming would win the Preakness. He was unable to reproduce his Kentucky Derby effort when coming back in two weeks at Pimlico. Classic Empire showed a bit more speed than I thought he might, and he was able to hang on much longer than I would have anticipated given the pace scenario. Make no mistake though, the winner Cloud Computing is a very good colt that created his own good trip by having enough speed to set up shop in the perfect position.
6. The Takeaway: Trainer Chad Brown gained his first Classic victory with a colt that has proved not only to be talented, but tough as well. It is a tremendous accomplishment for a horse to win The Preakness in only his fourth start. Cloud Computing stamped himself as one of the best 3-year-olds of this crop. It will be interesting to see if he tries the Belmont Stakes or awaits races like the Travers Stakes later in the season. Javier Castellano delivered a flawless ride befitting his Hall of Fame career.