After a dominant showing in winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming enters the Preakness Stakes as an overwhelming favorite to prevail and move within one victory of capturing the Triple Crown.
American Pharoah ended a lengthy Triple Crown drought in 2015, and although Always Dreaming has a long way to go before etching his name in history, his run at Churchill Downs suggests he is equipped to accomplish that feat.
Ahead of the post draw for the 142nd Preakness Stakes, here is a look at the current draw and predictions for the top finishers at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
|2017 Preakness Stakes Odds|
|Always Dreaming||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||91-100|
|Classic Empire||Mark Casse||Julien Leparoux||4-1|
|Lookin At Lee||Steve Asmussen||Corey Lanerie||11-1|
|Gunnevera||Antonio Sano||Mike Smith||12-1|
|Hence||Steve Asmussen||Florent Geroux||12-1|
|Conquest Mo Money||Miguel Hernandez||Jorge Carreno||16-1|
|Cloud Computing||Chad Brown||Javier Castellano||20-1|
|Multiplier||Brendan Walsh||Joel Rosario||20-1|
|Senior Investment||Kenneth McPeek||Channing Hill||25-1|
|Term of Art||Doug O'Neill||Jose Ortiz||25-1|
Win: Always Dreaming
On the heels of watching Always Dreaming outclass the Kentucky Derby field, it is difficult to argue against the idea that he is far and away the best horse heading to the Preakness.
Despite less-than-ideal track conditions, Always Dreaming had little issue blowing away the competition at Churchill Downs, as seen in this video courtesy of NBC Sports:
NBC Sports @NBCSports
Watch 'Always Dreaming' win the 143rd running of the @KentuckyDerby! #KentuckyDerby #DerbyDay https://t.co/GA3YppZLRY2017-5-6 23:00:59
Jockey John Velazquez brought Always Dreaming to the front immediately and kept him just off the pace before taking charge and scoring a fairly easy victory.
According to WBALTV11, trainer Todd Pletcher also liked what he saw out of his colt in the days following his win: "So far I've been amazed at how well he came out of the race. His energy level is great. He walked the shed row with a purpose this morning, ate all his dinner last night. Really, really pleased with the way he's come out of it so far."
Always Dreaming continued a recent trend of morning-line winners winning the Kentucky Derby, although that hasn't always translated to success in the Preakness Stakes.
He is undefeated as a three-year-old, however, and there has yet to be any indication that another horse is on his level.
Provided Velazquez guides him to another excellent trip as he did in the Derby, look for Always Dreaming to capture the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Place: Conquest Mo Money
Among the fresh horses who didn't run in the Kentucky Derby, Conquest Mo Money appears to be the one most likely to give Always Dreaming trouble.
The New York-bred colt has never finished worse than second in four career starts, including a strong run in the Arkansas Derby.
Conquest Mo Money finished second to Classic Empire in that race after being overtaken by a late surge, but trainer Miguel Hernandez was ecstatic with how his horse performed, according to Jeremy Balan of BloodHorse.com: "For me, my horse won the race. He did everything, with fast fractions, and never gave it up. I'm so happy for him and for [jockey] Jorge Carreno. He rode a perfect race."
While the fact that Conquest Mo Money ran a "perfect" race and still lost may be somewhat disconcerting, he has shown the ability to hang with the elite three-year-old horses.
He also has the added benefit of having not run in the grueling Kentucky Derby on a sloppy track, which will make him a major threat to prevent Always Dreaming's run at history.
Show: Lookin At Lee
Few gave Lookin At Lee a shot to be competitive in the Kentucky Derby breaking from the No. 1 post, but he shocked the world with a second-place finish and was the only horse to truly push Always Dreaming.
Per Mike Welsch of Daily Racing Form, trainer Steve Asmussen always has the utmost confidence that Lookin At Lee is going to give it his all: "I'm so very proud of Lee. That's just who he is. He just did what he always does, the way he performed out there today. He's the first horse in 20 years to run in the top three in the Derby from the 1 hole. All the variables you worry about in a horse going in here, I don't worry about with Lee. He's shown up every time. He earns your respect by overcoming, not making excuses."
Lookin At Lee won't be able to sneak up on anyone like he did in the Derby, but he enters the Preakness with a great deal of momentum on his side.
Although he hasn't won a race since the Ellis Park Juvenile in August, Lookin At Lee has a lot of big-race experience and almost always finds himself in the mix.
A repeat of his Kentucky Derby performance is a tall order, but expect Lookin At Lee to once again be a factor in the middle leg of the Triple Crown.