Always Dreaming has been preparing for the Preakness Stakes since the minute he won the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Now that we know which horses will be joining him in the field of 10, it's time to assess whether the favorite can actually win the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Always Dreaming comes in as the heavy -110 favorite after drawing the No. 4 post Wednesday. The three-year-old colt will be facing similar foes from Louisville but a far different weather forecast that could play a major factor.
Churchill Downs was a muddy sludge track after rain washed down throughout the day. There is no rain in sight for the Preakness, meaning horses that were undone by the wetness will be running on a surface where they are more comfortable.
"It's disappointing," Classic Empire assistant trainer Mark Casse told Eric Crawford of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before the Derby. "I'm from Louisville. I want everybody to be able to come out and have a great Derby day. But for us, you train your horse his whole life for this moment, and then to be tested in conditions he's never seen, it's not ideal."
Classic Empire, which was the original morning line favorite for the Derby, will get a second crack at a Triple Crown race win Saturday. The Derby was the first time Classic Empire had ever placed worse than third in a race he completed. Lining up alongside Always Dreaming in the No. 5 post, this race might turn into a battle of which horse gets off the opening gate quicker.
Gunnevera will look to improve on a seventh-place finish at the Derby from the No. 6 post. One of the most active three-year-olds running in major races, Gunnevera will be competing in his 11th event in the last calendar year. It's the first time he'll run on a two-week rest, however, having previously run about a month apart.
There has been no concern about whether Always Dreaming would make the trip. Trainer Todd Pletcher and others have indicated the horse was no worse for wear after winning the Derby, and signs have been promising as he's gotten acclimated to the Preakness track.
"He looked good. He was bright, alert, checking things out, jogging with the pony," Ginny DePasquale, Pletcher's assistant trainer, told reporters after his first run. "He was ready to go. The pony had to hang on to him, because he wanted to do a little more. We’re happy with the way he went this morning."
Always Dreaming is the fifth straight Kentucky Derby favorite to win the race. California Chrome and American Pharoah each went on to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. Chrome fell short at the Belmont, while Pharoah became the first to take all three races in nearly four decades.
The Preakness always features the easiest field of the three races, with some trainers choosing to hold their horses out of the second leg due to the quick turnaround.
Working against him, however, is the record of Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez at the Preakness. Both have had past success at the Kentucky Derby and Belmont but lack Preakness wins on their resume.
2017 Preakness Stakes Field
Post - Horse (Trainer; Jockey; Odds)
1. Multiplier (Brendan Walsh; Joel Rosario; +2000)
2. Cloud Computing (Chad Brown; Javier Castellano; +2000)
3. Hence (Steve Asmussen; Florent Geroux; +1200)
4. Always Dreaming (Todd Pletcher; John Velazquez; -110)
5. Classic Empire (Mark Casse; Julien Leparoux; +400)
6. Gunnevera (Antonio Sano; Mike Smith; +1200)
7. Term of Art (Doug O'Neill; Jose Ortiz; +2500)
8. Senior Investment (Ken McPeek; Channing Hill; +2500)
9. Lookin at Lee (Steve Asmussen; Corey Lanerie; +1100)
10. Conquest Mo Money (Miguel Hernandez; Jorge Carreno; +1600)
2017 Preakness Stakes TV Schedule/Race Info
When: Saturday, May 20
Where: The Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore
Post time: 7:35 p.m. ET
TV: NBC's coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com.