Always Dreaming has started the second phase of his Triple Crown season after making the trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Baltimore.
He is comfortably stowed away in Stall No. 40 at Pimlico Race Course, which is the site of the Preakness. The second leg of the Triple Crown will not be contested with the same 20-horse field that Always Dreaming had to contend with in the Kentucky Derby.
Nevertheless, the 1 3/16-mile race is a huge challenge for Always Dreaming, the even-money favorite in the event, according to OddsShark.
After running the wide turns of Churchill Downs, Always Dreaming and his competitors will have to run much tighter turns at Pimlico. The Derby winner is a versatile horse who likes to run at a fast pace, and he should grow accustomed to the track before the May 20 race.
Always Dreaming is scheduled to have his first training session at Pimlico Wednesday morning, and assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale reported that the horse looked calm and happy as he settled in to his new accommodation.
"I just spoke to Todd and told him, 'The horse looks very bright-eyed. He looks very happy. He looks like his normal self that we see every single day,'" said DePasquale, per Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun. "It's pretty special to see him looking that well. I'm happy and I know Todd is."
|2017 Preakness Odds|
|Irish War Cry||11-2|
|Lookin at Lee||11-1|
|Battle of Midway||11-1|
|Conquest Mo Money||16-1|
Always Dreaming will face challenges from several horses, including Irish War Cry, Classic Empire, Lookin At Lee and Battle of Midway.
Irish War Cry is a powerful runner who challenged Always Dreaming shortly after he took the lead at the six-furlong mark. The eventual Kentucky Derby winner answered the challenge with a strong stretch run, but Irish War Cry demonstrated his talent and tenacity with his effort.
Classic Empire was the morning-line favorite on Derby Day, and he appeared to be at least as talented as Always Dreaming before the race got underway.
However, Classic Empire was involved in a heavy collision shortly after the start, and he did not find his stride right away. He would eventually recover and run very well in the final part of the race and roar down the lane, but that was only good enough for fourth place.
That contact at the start of the race was serious enough that it could have caused Classic Empire to go down. Jockey Julian Leparoux did a good job by helping him stay on his feet.
"Honestly, I think our horse probably got more respect out of that performance [from] anyone who really watched the [Derby], because he overcame a lot just to finish fourth," trainer Mark Casse said Monday, per Walker. "I'm proud of him and look forward to trying Always Dreaming again."
Lookin At Lee and Battle of Midway were long shots in the Derby, but they had excellent performances and finished second and third, respectively.
Both horses have shown they can run with the best three-year-olds, and there's no reason they can't run well in the Preakness.
Neither Cloud Computing nor Conquest Mo Money ran in the Derby, so both horses should be fresh for the Preakness, and so should Malagacy and Practical Joke.
Gunnevera was a well-respected competitor prior to the Derby, and he is also running in the Preakness.
Look for Cloud Computing to put on a solid show in the Preakness. He should be a factor as the horses make the turn for home, but he is probably not good enough to get the best of Always Dreaming or Classic Empire.
Classic Empire never had a real chance to compete for a victory in the Run for the Roses, but that should turn around here. He should be able to avoid contact and run an excellent race.
There could be a superb battle between Classic Empire and Always Dreaming, but the Kentucky Derby winner will not be denied. He will edge out his rival and earn the second leg of the Triple Crown.