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|
|1||Always Dreaming||John R. Velazquez||Todd A. Pletcher||-|
|2||Lookin At Lee||Corey Lanerie||Steven M. Asmussen||2 3/4|
|3||Battle of Midway||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer||7 3/4|
|4||Classic Empire||Julien R. Leparoux||Mark E. Casse||8 3/4|
|5||Practical Joke||Joel Rosario||Chad C. Brown||9 1/2|
|6||Tapwrit||Jose L. Ortiz||Todd A. Pletcher||10 1/4|
|7||Gunnevera||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano||13 1/4|
|8||McCraken||Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr.||Ian R. Wilkes||13 1/4|
|9||Gormley||Victor Espinoza||John A. Shirreffs||14 1/4|
|10||Irish War Cry||Rajiv Maragh||H. Graham Motion||16 1/2|
|11||Hence||Florent Geroux||Steven M. Asmussen||18 1/2|
|12||Untrapped||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steven M. Asmussen||19 1/4|
|13||Girvin||Mike E. Smith||Joe Sharp||19 1/4|
|14||Patch||Tyler Gaffalione||Todd A. Pletcher||20 3/4|
|15||J Boys Echo||Robby Albarado||Dale L. Romans||22 3/4|
|16||Sonneteer||Kent J. Desormeaux||J. Keith Desormeaux||26|
|17||Fast and Accurate||Channing Hill||Michael J. Maker||28 1/2|
|18||Irap||Mario Gutierrez||Doug F. O'Neill||40 1/2|
|19||State of Honor||Jose Lezcano||Mark E. Casse||45 1/2|
|20||Thunder Snow||Christophe Soumillon||Saeed bin Suroor||DNF|
|Kentucky Derby Payout Information (Based on $2 Bet)|
|2||1||Lookin At Lee||$26.60||$15.20|
|3||11||Battle of Midway||$20.80|
|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.