The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown, but succeeding in this event is much different than the Kentucky Derby.
While it is still on a dirt track, it is a little shorter at 1 3/16 miles and the smaller field opens things up for other top contenders to make a run. There are also a handful of fresher horses who weren't competing at Churchill Downs just two weeks earlier.
Adding this to potentially different weather patterns and Always Dreaming is far from a lock to win his second consecutive race.
This should create an exciting event you won't want to miss.
2017 Preakness Stakes
When: Saturday, May 20
Post Time: 6:45 p.m. ET
TV Coverage: NBC starting at 5 p.m. ET
1. Multiplier (Joel Rosario/Brendan Walsh)
2. Cloud Computing (Javier Castellano/Chad Brown)
3. Hence (Florent Geroux/Steve Asmussen)
4. Always Dreaming (John Velazquez/Todd Pletcher)
5. Classic Empire (Julien Leparoux/Mark Casse)
6. Gunnevera (Mike Smith/Antonio Sano)
7. Term of Art (Jose Ortiz/Doug O'Neill)
8. Senior Investment (Channing Hill/Ken McPeek)
9. Lookin At Lee (Corey Lanerie/Steve Asmussen)
10. Conquest Mo Money (Jorge Carreno/Miguel Hernandez)
Can Always Dreaming Keep it Going?
There was plenty of uncertainty heading into this year's Kentucky Derby from a betting standpoint. Classic Empire was the morning-line favorite, although this preceded shifted odds throughout the day of the race.
This should tell you while there were some quality horses, no one had separated themselves from the field.
However, Paul Lo Duca of TVG believed there was no real debate:
Paul Lo Duca @paulloduca16
That just summed up this wacky Derby trail! The favorite wins. 😂 The best by far. Congrats to Always Dreaming and his connections. #derby2017-5-6 22:58:51
Always Dreaming ended as the co-favorite along with Irish War Cry, marking the fifth year in a row the favorite ended up winning the Kentucky Derby. This also continued an impressive run until this point with four straight wins in 2017.
It's clear this horse, along with jockey John Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher, have what it takes to keep winning and potentially contend for the Triple Crown. With that said, nothing is guaranteed in a sport where one misstep can cost you everything.
The winner from Churchill Downs is the clear favorite, but anything can happen at Pimlico.
Will Top Contenders from Derby Bounce Back?
Only a few of the horses from the Kentucky Derby will be back in action at the Preakness, but at least two represent interesting challenges.
One of those is Classic Empire, who was a favorite throughout the week of Churchill Downs before falling out of favor the final day. While flawed, he still has five wins in his seven races and has never finished worse than fourth in his career.
He ended up in fourth place last time out, although he could have potentially ended up much better.
"We got bumped around really hard at the start which put us in a very tough position early," jockey Julien Leparoux said, per Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal. "He really only had one race before this, but we'll get them next time."
It was McCraken who caused the contact, putting Classic Empire at a disadvantage and too far back to recover. In more of an open race at Pimlico, he could have more success.
Meanwhile, Lookin At Lee will hope to improve upon his second-place showing at the Kentucky Derby. While he was a relative longshot coming in, he was one of the strongest in the field closing toward the finish.
These two and a few others could create problems for Always Dreaming.
Any New Challengers?
There are five new horses in the field that didn't compete in the Kentucky Derby, all of them coming in fresh.
One of the top challengers could be Conquest Mo Money, who has three wins and two second-place finishes in five starts. The most recent race was the Arkansas Derby, where he finished just behind Classic Empire for second but ahead of Lookin At Lee.
He clearly has the talent to at least finish in the top three, if not compete for the win.
Senior Investment is one of the most experienced horses in the field and is coming off an April win at the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes.
If he can keep some momentum from the recent success, he could be a surprise winner on Saturday.