After an imperious display in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming is set to go off as a heavy favourite on Saturday in the Preakness Stakes.
The winner of the Run for the Roses heads the betting in the buildup to the showpiece at Pimlico, where he has the chance to secure the second leg of a potential Triple Crown. A win in Baltimore this weekend would set pulses racing ahead of the Belmont Stakes, where Always Dreaming would have the chance to make history.
But Preakness will not be a canter for Todd Pletcher’s derby winner, with a high-class field set to take part in this one. Here’s the field in full along with their respective odds and a glimpse at what’s to come from another highlight on the racing calendar.
|Preakness Stakes 2017: Latest Odds|
|Irish War Cry||11-2|
|Lookin at Lee||11-1|
|Battle of Midway||11-1|
|Conquest Mo Money||16-1|
Odds courtesy of OddsShark and accurate as of 6 a.m. (ET) on May 14
As is often the case, the winner of the Kentucky Derby heads to Preakness as the big favourite for victory. And you have to say, Always Dreaming is a worthy market leader.
In what is always an unpredictable race at Churchill Downs, jockey John Velazquez steered the horse into a superb position, and ahead of the final turn, he moved elegantly to the front of the field. From there, there was nobody reeling in Always Dreaming.
It was a hugely impressive display from the colt, who has made rapid progress over the last year. Indeed, as noted by Darren Rovell of ESPN, he’s made his owners a lot of money already:
Darren Rovell @darrenrovell
Derby winner Always Dreaming collects $1.24 million. Horse was bought for $350,000 in Sept. 2015.2017-5-6 22:55:09
The smaller field at Preakness should favour the Kentucky winner, as there’s less chance of being hampered by external factors and his natural speed will show. But Pimlico’s congested corners and the shorter race distance may bring some other big names into play.
One of those is Classic Empire, who was the pre-race favourite in the Derby in the week leading up to event.
He was knocked out of his stride early on at Churchill Downs and pushed back down the field. But the fact he recovered well and Julien Leparoux was able to steer him into fourth place suggests that, with a cleaner run, he’s got the speed to challenge Always Dreaming in Baltimore.
These statistics from Mackenzie K-H show just how well Classic Empire did to eventually break into the top four spots:
Mackenzie K-H @mackenziejanek
So Classic Empire ran 75ft more than Always Dreaming, or about 8.8 lengths. Lost by 8.75 lengths. Also averaged fastest speed in field.2017-5-10 13:12:01
"It's hard to say but he had so many things go wrong, any of which could cost you the race," trainer Mark Casse said of his derby misfortunes, per the Canadian Press (h/t Herald Sports). "He got wiped out at the start... and he couldn't open his right eye Sunday morning so I think it cost us a few placings, at least."
Irish War Cry is another horse who failed to showcase his full potential in Kentucky, and his camp will be itching for an opportunity to have another crack at Always Dreaming. According to his trainer Graham Motion, he’s in decent shape after that gruelling race:
Irish War Cry came out of the Derby in good shape, gave us a thrill turning for home. https://t.co/OQz7rEF7yg2017-5-7 01:11:14
He looked to be in contention as the horses turned for home and was well placed to burst into first spot. But Always Dreaming got the jump on Motion’s colt and eventually, Irish War Cry was unable to stay the pace in the final stretch.
That’ll be a concern for anyone backing him at Pimlico, especially given the Derby winner seemed to have more gas in the tank if he needed it. As things stand, Classic Empire looks to be the only horse in the field capable of stopping Always Dreaming from adding the second jewel in the Triple Crown to his collection.