Always Dreaming's team will be aiming for horse racing immortality Saturday when the horse lines up at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore for the 142nd running of the Preakness.
The Todd Pletcher-trained colt captured the Kentucky Derby title at Churchill Downs on a muddy track and is one victory away from inserting plenty of drama into the Belmont Stakes. American Pharoah won the Triple Crown recently in 2015, but he was the first to do so since 1978 (Affirmed).
As is typically the case at the second leg of the Triple Crown, the field isn't as large or daunting as the one Always Dreaming faced at the Kentucky Derby. That should help him make strides toward history.
With that in mind, here is a look at the schedule, prize money info and a predicted winner for Saturday's race.
Schedule and Post Time
Date: Saturday, May 20
TV Coverage: NBC's coverage starts at 5 p.m. ET
Post time: 6:45 p.m. ET, per the event's official website
Live Stream: The Preakness can be streamed at NBC Sports Live.
Prize Money Info
According to the Triple Crown's official website, the $1.5 million purse is split five ways, with 60 percent going to the victor, 20 percent to second place, 11 percent to third place, six percent to fourth place and three percent to fifth.
|Preakness Stakes Projected Purse|
|Total Purse||$1.5 million|
Predicted Winner: Always Dreaming
One of the primary concerns heading into the Preakness is always the quick turnaround for the winner.
Always Dreaming had a mere two weeks to prepare for the Triple Crown's second leg, but Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post noted he is lightly raced compared to many previous Derby winners.
The colt didn't race from Aug. 20 to Jan. 25 during a trainer switch, and the extra energy has paid off because he is undefeated through four starts this year.
"He's got a lot in the tank," exercise rider Nick Bush said, per Culpepper. "I don't think we've seen anywhere near the bottom."
That is troublesome news for the rest of the Preakness field, especially after jockey John Velazquez established a blueprint at the Kentucky Derby by getting to the inside and kicking things into high gear at the end:
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Watch 'Always Dreaming' win the 143rd running of the @KentuckyDerby! #KentuckyDerby #DerbyDay https://t.co/GA3YppZLRY2017-5-6 23:00:59
The fact he seized the lead relatively early before the final stretch run suggests he can do the same at the shorter Preakness (1 3/16 miles compared to 1 1/4 miles). The shorter track is also better for Always Dreaming's stamina with little time in between races.
There are also not as many quality horses to challenge him.
In a testament to the hesitation to bring horses back on such short rest unless they win the Derby and there is Triple Crown potential, John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times noted Lookin At Lee and Classic Empire were both maybes for the Preakness a mere one day after the Kentucky Derby. Irish War Cry was already a hard no, while Gunnevera and Girvin were undecided.
Classic Empire, Lookin At Lee and Gunnevera are in the field, but Always Dreaming already proved he can beat them.
Between a lesser field, Always Dreaming's relatively fresh legs and Hall of Famer jockey Velazquez leading the way, there will be a run for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.
The Preakness represents the final Triple Crown race hurdle for Velazquez, but he is plenty experienced, with top-five finishes in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2016. He understands what this track demands, and he already flashed brilliance with Always Dreaming at the Kentucky Derby.
He will do so again Saturday.