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CONFIRMED - Always Dreaming kept his perfect record intact through four starts this year with his impressive 2 ¾-length victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) May 6 at Churchill Downs.
Given a perfect ride from his Hall of Fame jockey, John Velazquez, Always Dreaming tracked long shot pacesetter State of Honor for a half-mile that went in 46.53 seconds before taking over the top spot, turning back bids from Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry and splashed home in 2:03.59 over a sloppy, sealed main track.
Always Dreaming, a dark bay or brown son of 2012 Preakness runner-up Bodemeister, finished third in his career debut last July at Belmont Park and second in his next start at Saratoga, both as the favorite.
He went unraced until making his 3-year-old debut Jan. 25 at Tampa Bay Downs, romping to an 11 ½-length maiden special weight score going one mile and 40 yards. Sent to Gulfstream Park for his first try against winners, Always Dreaming cruised to a front-running four-length triumph March 4, stamping his ticket to the Florida Derby (G1).
In the Florida Derby, his stakes debut, Always Dreaming settled in behind multiple stakes-winning pacesetter Three Rules, moved up to challenge around the far turn and powered down the stretch to win by five lengths.
Always Dreaming is the third Florida Derby winner in five years to repeat in the Kentucky Derby, and became the 44th starter in the Florida Derby's 66-year-history to win a Triple Crown race.
CONFIRMED - A victory in the Preakness would make Classic Empire only the eighth juvenile male champion to capture the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown since the Eclipse Awards were created in 1971. Of the seven others, four are Triple Crown winners: Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978) and American Pharoah (2015).
Classic Empire endured a nightmarish trip in the May 6 Kentucky Derby, pinched well back after a chain reaction collision at the break and emerging from the race with swelling in his right eye. Despite the circumstances, the Pioneerof the Nile colt managed to rally for fourth, beaten less than nine lengths.
An eventful 3-year-old season for Classic Empire began when he was third in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, coming out of the race with a foot abscess. His training was further hampered when he refused to breeze on two occasions in South Florida, once with discomfort in his back.
He didn't race again for nine weeks, overcoming some early trouble to come off the pace and win the Arkansas Derby (G1) by a half-length, convincing his connections to make the trip to Louisville.
Classic Empire won four of his five starts at 2, including the Bashford Manor (G3), Breeders' Futurity (G1) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). His only loss came in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, where he wheeled at the start and dropped jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. - the only time regular rider Julien Leparoux, then recovering from a broken wrist - was not aboard.
CONFIRMED - Named in honor of one of his owners, Looking At Lee got an ideal rail-skimming trip in the Kentucky Derby, saving ground while far back in the early stages before finding room around the far turn and surging past tiring horses to finish second at odds of 33-1, five lengths ahead of Battle of Midway.
Lookin At Lee, a son two-time champion and 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky, has been fed a steady diet of stakes since breaking his maiden last July at Ellis Park. He won the Ellis Park Juvenile, was second in the Iroquois (G3) and Breeders' Futurity (G1), and closed to be fourth behind Breeders' Futurity winner Classic Empire in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Based at Oaklawn Park over the winter to open his sophomore season, Lookin At Lee finished third in the Southwest (G3) and sixth in the Rebel (G2) before launching a late rally for third behind Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby (G1), a move that would look familiar three weeks later.
Looking At Lee began his career at the famed El Primero Training Center in Laredo, Texas, founded by Keith and Marilyn Asmussen, the parents of his Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
CONFIRMED - Unraced at 2, Cloud Computing would be making just his fourth career start and third straight in a graded stakes in the Preakness.
A dark bay or brown son of Maclean's Music, Cloud Computing had enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby (G1) but was declared from contention by his connections - who also campaign Practical Joke - due to his lack of seasoning.
Cloud Computing didn't make his race debut until Feb. 11, taking a six-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct by 1 ¾ lengths despite having to steady between horses after an awkward start. His stakes debut came less than four weeks later in the Gotham (G3), where he was a solid second to Derby contender J Boys Echo and 7 ½ lengths ahead of third-place finisher and multiple Grade 3 winner El Areeb.
From there Cloud Computing was sent to the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial, where he went off as the 7-5 third choice in a field of eight. Breaking from Post 7, he came with a three-wide run down the stretch to finish third behind Derby contender Irish War Cry with Battalion Runner second.
As with many of the horses owned by Klaravich Stables and Bill Lawrence, Cloud Computing gets his name from the financial nature of their businesses.
CONFIRMED - Just days after running second in the April 15 Arkansas Derby (G1), the connections for Conquest Mo Money decided to skip the first leg of the Triple Crown and head straight to the Preakness, calling it the best interest of their horse.
A multiple stakes-winning son of popular and successful young sire Uncle Mo, Conquest Mo Money came up a half-length short of 2016 champion 2-year-old male Classic Empire in Hot Springs, despite breaking from Post 11.
It was the second straight runner-up finish for the bay New York-bred colt, who suffered his first career loss March 26 in the Sunland Derby (G3), beaten 3 ¾ lengths by Kentucky Derby contender Hence.
Conquest Mo Money won his first three lifetime starts, all at Sunland, including back-to-back victories in the Riley Allison Stakes and Mine That Bird Derby, named for the upset winner of the 2009 Derby that finished second by a length behind filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.
Other Derby horses he beat in Arkansas were Lookin At Lee, Sonneteer and Untrapped. At Sunland Conquest Mo Money has twice beaten Irap, another Derby horse that broke his maiden winning the Blue Grass (G2).
CONFIRMED - A bargain purchase for just $16,000 at Keeneland's September 2015 yearling sale, Gunnevera has earned nearly $1.2 million over his career. In his most recent start, Gunnevera got jammed at the start and floated wide in the stretch and never threatened while seventh in the May 6 Kentucky Derby.
Orphaned as a foal, Gunnevera made his first three starts at Gulfstream Park where he broke his maiden last summer before bursting on the national scene with a come-from-behind victory in the Saratoga Special (G2) at Saratoga Race Course.
He wound up his juvenile season running fifth to 2-year-old champion Classic Empire in the Breeders' Futurity prior to winning the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3). The 2015 Delta Jackpot winner, Exaggerator, would go on to win the 2016 Preakness.
Gunnevera, named for a small town in Spain, opened his 3-year-old campaign running second to Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream. He returned four weeks later with a commanding 5 ¾-length victory in the Fountain of Youth (G2) that punched his ticket to the Florida Derby (G1).
The late-running Gunnevera found himself too far back in the Florida Derby but was able to rally for third behind eventual Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.
CONFIRMED - A troubled start and subsequent traffic proved too much for Hence to overcome while running 11th in the Kentucky Derby, where he was beaten 18 1/2 lengths.
Hence, whose name is inspired by his good looks, went winless in three starts as a juvenile before breaking his maiden in his sophomore debut Jan. 16 at Oaklawn Park. Despite stumbling at the start and losing the lead after ducking out in mid-stretch, Hence rallied for a three-quarter-length victory.
Never in contention while finishing seventh in the Southwest (G3) Feb. 20, Hence rebounded with an impressive come-from-behind triumph in the Sunland Derby (G3) March 26. Among the horses he defeated were Irap, upset next-out winner of the Blue Grass (G2); Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Conquest Mo Money; and Hedge Fund, a head loser of the Illinois Derby (G3) in his subsequent start.
Hence is a chestnut son of Street Boss, the sire of Cathryn Sophia, winner of the 2016 Kentucky Oaks (G1); Danza, winner of the 2014 Arkansas Derby (G1) and 2016 Hong Kong Triple Crown champion Rapper Dragon.
CONFIRMED - A Grade 3 winner in his final start at 2, Term of Art has yet to find the winner's circle in four starts as a 3-year-old.
Most recently, the bay son of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner and 2009 Hall of Famer Tiznow ran dead last for more than a half-mile before coming with a six-wide move when finishing seventh in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 8. Runner-up Battle of Midway went on to run third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) May 6 while third-place finisher Royal Mo returns in the Preakness.
Term of Art bobbled at the start of the San Felipe (G2) March 11 but managed to get up for third in a seven-horse field at odds of nearly 63-1. He finished fourth behind Royal Mo in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) Feb. 4 and was fifth in the one-mile Sham (G3) Jan. 7 to open his sophomore campaign.
Unraced outside of California, Term of Art broke his maiden in his third try of 2016 and subsequently found himself in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), where he finished ninth behind juvenile male champion and Preakness contender Classic Empire.
Wheeled back just 22 days later, Term of Art again rallied from well back to post a 1 1/4-length upset when the one-mile Cecil B. DeMille (G3) was rained off the turf and onto a good main track Nov. 27 at Del Mar.
CONFIRMED - Facing winners for the first time in his fledgling career, Multiplier was as game as he was fast to beat favored Hedge Fund and win the Illinois Derby (G3) April 22 at Hawthorne Race Course near Chicago.
It marked just the fourth lifetime start for the bay son of multiple Grade 1 winner The Factor, coming 4 ½ weeks after breaking his maiden going a mile and 70 yards on the dirt at Fair Grounds as the favorite in a field of nine.
Multiplier did not race as a 2-year-old but went off as the top choice of 11 horses in his debut Jan. 21 at Fair Grounds, where he got off to a slow start and rallied on the outside after trailing early to get up for third, a nose away from second.
In his second start, Multiplier overcame an early bump from the gate to save ground along the rail in mid-pack before being swung outside for a stretch run that came up a neck shy of the favored winner Souper Tapit.
Multiplier ran the Illinois Derby in a swift 1:47.98 for 1 1/8 miles over a fast main track, the second-fastest time in the race's 59-year history, coming with a determined run down the stretch to win by a head in his stakes debut. It was nearly five lengths back to third-place finisher It's Your Nickel.
CONFIRMED - Senior Investment has been under the watchful eye of trainer Ken McPeek since he purchased the chestnut Discreetly Mine colt for $95,000 on behalf of Paul Fireman's Fern Circle Stables at Keeneland's September 2015 yearling sale.
Not debuting until the summer of 2016, Senior Investment needed four tries to break his maiden, graduating with a 2 ½-length victory going a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds Dec. 26 in his final start as a 2-year-old.
Seventh in his first try against winners four weeks later, also at Fair Grounds, Senior Investment was shipped to Oaklawn Park where he dispatched an optional claiming allowance field by three lengths Feb. 18 at 1 1/16 miles. A date against stakes company was next, but he was never in contention finishing sixth behind Kentucky Derby runners Girvin and Patch in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
Just 14 days later, Senior Investment found himself at Keeneland for the 1 1/16-mile Lexington (G3). The late-running sort came with his customary closing kick after trailing all but one horse for six furlongs, rallying after being fanned seven wide at the top of the stretch to win by a head at odds of 11-1.
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