Preakness offers encouraging news for Always Dreaming

Pierre Vaugeois
Mai 20, 2017

Whether he does it again in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday depends on a good trip, the tactics by his nine rivals and a little luck.

Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming was the morning line favorite at 4-5, followed by Classic Empire at 3-1.

Blasi said the Preakness has traditionally had a faster early pace - in part because other horses are gunning for the Derby victor - and the weather on Saturday is expected to be dry and in the 70s. "Maybe he's that good that he won't encounter trouble".

"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.

Odds will fluctuate up to the start of the race, scheduled for 6:48 p.m. Saturday.

Of course, it's become incumbent for the trainer of the Derby victor to bring the champ to Pimlico for a shot at making a Triple Crown bid.

Anytime a trainer of one of the favorites has to come out and say that it's not a two-horse race you can bet that it's actually probably a two-horse race.

In the Preakness, Always Dreaming will break from the No. 4 post, a spot that has produced 13 winners but none since Curlin in 2007. Classic Empire, having been throttled out of the gate and bumped at every turn, was coated and tired and trudged to a fourth-place finish. Always Dreaming, 2. Classic Empire, 3. But Pletcher has made a habit of skipping Baltimore in order to beat the pack to his home base of NY after the Kentucky Derby and await the Belmont. "We're just focused on hopefully breaking cleanly and smoothly and letting him run to the first turn a little bit".

The Preakness has never been Todd Pletcher's race. Velazquez is 0 for 7, with his best finish being second in 2011 aboard Kentucky Derby victor Animal Kingdom. He's 0 for 8 in the race, with his best finish being third with Impeachment in 2000.

Conquest Mo Money, at 15-1, also skipped the Derby. He set a pressured pace in the Arkansas Derby, beaten only a half-length by Classic Empire, last season's juvenile champion.

"It's very exciting and we're enjoying every minute of it", Ms. McKenna said as her horse is one of 10 in the field.

The Derby victor has found plenty of success in the Preakness over the years, and the majority of punters are expected to back Always Dreaming once again.

Trying not to look past Saturday, Tom said they will wait and see how Conquest Mo Money runs before making a decision on entering the Belmont Stakes. He could use his speed to pressure Always Dreaming early or go for the lead outright.

Cloud Computing, who opted out of the Kentucky Derby and comes to Baltimore fresh, is 12-1 on the morning line and is trainer Chad Brown's first Preakness starter. Lookin At Lee (second in the Derby), 10-1, is unlikely to get another ideal come-from-behind trip.

"That was our goal, to get a horse that one day got us to the Derby", Ms. McKenna said. "He's taken on everything you could throw at him".

Exercise rider Martin Rivera gallops Preakness Stakes entrant Classic Empire at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Friday, May 19, 2017.

Juan Aguayo watches as Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming munches on his breakfast in Stall 40 of the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Friday, May 19, 2017.

A groom combs Preakness Stakes contender Multiplier after a bath at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Friday, May 19, 2017. Casse is the trainer of Classic Empire.

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