Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming will attempt to garner the second jewel in the Triple Crown in Saturday's $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place May 20.
When he returned in the Arkansas Derby Apr. 15 against Classic Empire, he held the lead through most of the race before Classic Empire surged through the stretch and took victory by a length.
Looking at the nine horses other than Always Dreaming, you can throw out Multiplier (should be Subtractor for what he'll do to your wallet), Term of Art (Piece of Work would be better) and Cloud Computing (a likely crash) right away.
Lookin At Lee hasn't won a race since last August but has finished in the money in seven of 10 career races. Maybe he's that good that he won't encounter trouble.
"Sometimes you don't know until you are in the heart of the battle whether he has that extra in reserve", Pletcher said.
After three consecutive days of 90-plus-degree heat, the forecast calls for a high of 68 and cloudy skies Saturday when the race goes off about 6:48 p.m. EDT. I would not be shocked to see Velasquez let Always Dreaming set the pace, but I do believe he will position himself closer toward the rail, tucked in behind the speed, letting early pace setters go on until after the half mile. "In a lot of races, things change as soon as the gates open". If his morning preparations at Pimlico since are any indication, Always Dreaming is sitting on another big effort and the only question is whether two weeks is too quick of a turnaround for a horse that has never gone less than four weeks between races. One spot over on his outside will be Classic Empire, last year's 2-year-old champion who finished fourth in the Derby after getting knocked around coming out of the starting gate. I think that initial week to settle in was beneficial.
As the Derby champ, Always Dreaming will have a bulls-eye on his back in a smaller field going a shorter distance than two weeks ago.
"Lee is going to run his race every time", said Scott Blasi, assistant trainer to Steve Asmussen, who also has Hence, at 20-1, in the race.
"I think we got exactly what we hoped we would get when we got here, a good, quiet setting", Pletcher told the Pimlico notes team.
There are not many major races that Todd Pletcher has not won, but the GI Preakness S.is one test that has managed to elude the conditioner.
Also exiting the Derby are longshot runner-up Lookin at Lee (Lookin at Lucky); stablemate and 11th-place finisher Hence (Street Boss), who received a lot of pre-Derby hype in the mornings at Churchill; and seventh-place finisher Gunnevera (Dialed In). Classic Empire will break from post five with odds of 3-1.
Casse's ideal scenario involves Always Dreaming and Conquest Mo Money dueling in the early stages.
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. During the Kentucky Derby Always Dreaming proved that he's capable of contesting fast fractions and he'll likely do that again tomorrow.
There's a posse of contenders that would love to extend that history.
Gunnevera and Conquest Mo Money are two horses that have a chance for a top three finish.
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.
"I think he is continuing to improve, actually", he said.