Kentucky Derby 2017: Using Race Results, Highlights to Predict Preakness Winner

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 06: Jockey John Velazquez celebrates atop Always Dreaming #5 as they cross the finish line after winning the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Always Dreaming is a strong pick to win the second leg of the Triple Crown at Preakness 2017 after impressively riding to a comfortable victory by 2 ¾ lengths at this year's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

The Todd Pletcher-trained horse has the pedigree and form to make it two for two in the Triple Crown stakes on Saturday, May 20. Before a closer look at Always Dreaming's chances at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, here's the full order of finish and the payouts from Louisville:

2017 Kentucky Derby Results
1Always DreamingJohn R. VelazquezTodd A. Pletcher-
2Lookin At LeeCorey LanerieSteven M. Asmussen2 3/4
3Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer7 3/4
4Classic EmpireJulien R. LeparouxMark E. Casse8 3/4
5Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad C. Brown9 1/2
6TapwritJose L. OrtizTodd A. Pletcher10 1/4
7GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano13 1/4
8McCrakenBrian Joseph Hernandez Jr.Ian R. Wilkes13 1/4
9GormleyVictor EspinozaJohn A. Shirreffs14 1/4
10Irish War CryRajiv MaraghH. Graham Motion16 1/2
11HenceFlorent GerouxSteven M. Asmussen18 1/2
12UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.Steven M. Asmussen19 1/4
13GirvinMike E. SmithJoe Sharp19 1/4
14PatchTyler GaffalioneTodd A. Pletcher20 3/4
15J Boys EchoRobby AlbaradoDale L. Romans22 3/4
16SonneteerKent J. DesormeauxJ. Keith Desormeaux26
17Fast and AccurateChanning HillMichael J. Maker28 1/2
18IrapMario GutierrezDoug F. O'Neill40 1/2
19State of HonorJose LezcanoMark E. Casse45 1/2
20Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin SuroorDNF
Kentucky Derby Payout Information (Based on $2 Bet)
15Always Dreaming$11.40$7.20$5.80
21Lookin At Lee$26.60$15.20
311Battle of Midway$20.80
414Classic Empire
519Practical Joke
Lee K. Howard of CBS

Here are the race highlights of Always Dreaming winning at Churchill Downs, per the race's official YouTube channel:

Always Dreaming a Worthy Favorite for Preakness

As the highlights show, Always Dreaming made his move with around a half-mile to go. The sudden burst of speed and strength was impressive to power through the crowd and nose in front of early pace-setter State of Honor.

However, Always Dreaming made the strongest case for winning at the Preakness by breaking away over the final stretch. There was an acceleration from Pletcher's horse to open up a lead of two furlongs.

Yet it was the way jockey John R. Velazquez and his colt hit the next gear up to push a further furlong in front. This level of closing speed should intimidate the rest of the field at the Preakness.

If there is a worthy contender to keep an eye on, it's Classic Empire. The three-year-old suffered some misfortune in Louisville, becoming embroiled in a triple-horse pileup also involving McCraken and Irish War Cry.

Given how this collision knocked the horse off his stride, Classic Empire merited praise for the way he managed to recover enough to still finish fourth. In fact, New York Racing Association analyst Andy Serling commended the way Classic Empire finished:

Serling also felt Classic Empire was the only horse in Kentucky able to stand comparison with the eventual winner:

It's easy to believe if Classic Empire avoids the kind of gaffe experienced in Louisville, he will be the main threat to Always Dreaming in Maryland.

Yet it's still tough to go against Pletcher's winner, a horse coming off four victories in a row. The last two of those wins, in Kentucky and at Florida, have both come with room to spare, ample proof Always Dreaming has what it takes to claim the next leg of the Triple Crown at the Preakness.