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Always Dreaming a 4-5 favourite entering Preakness

19 May 2017

Always Dreaming and his trainer Todd Pletcher proved their skeptics wrong with a resounding win in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby on May 6th.

"We've seen a good appetite, good energy, good gallops", Pletcher said.

Looking At Lee and Always Dreaming might not get that flawless trip again, and the Preakness is shorter than the Kentucky Derby and doesn't favor closers. "Except for one morning when he tried to buck Nick off, he's gotten progressively stronger".

According to Trakus, Classic Empire ran 75 feet farther than Always Dreaming and 90 feet farther than second place Lookin At Lee who rode the live rail and is an automatic throwout for me. It can be a challenge for any horse in this modern era, where races are often well spaced, an approach that Pletcher has embraced with most of his horses.

The course record of 1:53 minutes was set by legendary Triple Crown victor Secretariat in 1973.

Behind it, the finish should be a little more predictable than it was at the Derby.

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To date, it has all gone perfectly. Always Dreaming's talent is unquestioned.

Always Dreaming is the early 4-5 favorite for the race Saturday at Pimlico, where hell break from the No. 4 post. He skipped out on the Kentucky Derby and the extra month of training he's received from his last start is an added bonus especially for young horses. Forget seventh-place Derby finisher Gunnevera, who is just a notch below this crowd. And when he won, he was in.

"It's fine", Pletcher said of the draw. "I always thought one of his many strengths was when he got a horse in form, his ability to maintain them in form for a long time".

Bodemeister will have a chance to complete the coveted Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in NY on June 10. Dismiss notions Conquest Mo Money might steal the race as the only other early speedster. The "Run for the Black-Eyed Susans" is held on the third Saturday in May and is only trumped by the Kentucky Derby in attendance for North American stakes races.

Thirty-five horses have backed up their Kentucky Derby victory by winning the Preakness Stakes. When it gets wet it gets slippery, and horses tend to struggle more. Chief among them is Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming, who was installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite.

Conditions should be better on Saturday and Classic Empire will be starting just outside of Always Dreaming in the fifth starting gate for the mile and 3/16ths race. Where Always Dreaming, not only is he blessed with the God-given ability, he creates his own luck, and there's something to be said for that.

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Jockey John Velazquez, Always Dreaming's regular pilot and racing's all-time richest jockey with $364 million in earnings, has never won the Preakness either. Maybe he'll be fitter, yet his figures are inferior to Always Dreaming's. While I don't see the pace being insane fast, I do think it will set up perfectly for my selection, Classic Empire, the 3-1 morning line second choice who should be just off the leaders on the backstretch.

"I think he's getting better all the time", the trainer said. "I think it cost him a few placings at least". Trainer John Shirreffs said Royal Mo had successful surgery to fix the break, but that the colt's racing career was over. "But I do feel very, very good about the way he's coming into it".

Cloud Computing should be able to sit a good trip just off the leaders, while Gunnevera, Hence, Lookin At Lee, Multiplier, Senior Investment, and Term of Art all will be hoping a hot pace develops that leaves the leaders vulnerable to their closing charges. That is the only equipment change among the 10 runners.

The Preakness is the 13th on a 14-race program.

Three vans transporting five candidates for Saturday's 2017 Preakness Stakes (G1) arrived at Pimlico Race Course within minutes of each other Tuesday afternoon.

The 142nd running of the Preakness will be televised by NBC with pre-race coverage beginning at 5 p.m. Rather than shell out $200,000 to run in the Kentucky Derby, his owner and trainer took the weekend off.

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Always Dreaming a 4-5 favourite entering Preakness