Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming drew the No. 4 post for the 2017 Preakness Stakes during Wednesday afternoon's draw at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The second leg of the Triple Crown is scheduled for Saturday at approximately 6:45 p.m. ET on NBC.
Always Dreaming headlines a 10-horse field that includes a combination of fellow Derby returnees and a handful of new shooters. Classic Empire, Lookin At Lee and Conquest Mo Money are among the contenders hoping to spoil horse racing's search for its second Triple Crown winner in three years.
Let's check out how the entire group will line up for the 142nd running of the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans along with odds for each horse. That's followed by a preview of this weekend's race.
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)
Betting odds courtesy of OddsShark.
Always Dreaming and jockey John Velazquez will enter the Preakness hoping to shake a cloud of skepticism that's followed the Derby winner to Pimlico from Churchill Downs.
While the Todd Pletcher trainee outlasted a field of 20 two weeks ago, most of the talk has surrounded the perfect trip he received or the middling three-year-old group he's running against. Far less time and focus has been placed on his chances of capturing the Triple Crown.
That's going to change in a major way if he crosses the finish line first Saturday. And all the signs since he's arrived in Maryland have been positive.
John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times passed along comments Pletcher made earlier in the week about what he's seen from the colt since the the high-profile victory.
"I'm just very, very pleased with the way he's come out of the Derby and the way he looks at Pimlico," Pletcher said. "He seems to be proud of himself and doing well."
Camilla Yakteen of XBTV noted that trend continued during the horse's Wednesday workout:
camilla yakteen @camillayakteen
Always Dreaming galloped extremely well this morning. Looking very focused and strong in finishing lap. @WatchXBTV https://t.co/ZPzA2VlByT2017-5-17 09:43:28
The two biggest questions heading into the Preakness are how Always Dreaming will respond to the short two-week layoff, which is always a major concern for the Kentucky Derby winner, and whether the more select field will actually pose a bigger threat than the chaos of the Derby.
Art Lander Jr. of KYForward.com believe the answer to the latter question is yes:
Art Lander Jr. @artlanderjr
But Preakness, with smaller field, and shorter distance, will be much more challenging for Always Dreaming, who had perfect trip2017-5-7 01:37:55
Classic Empire finished fourth in the Derby, but that doesn't tell the whole story. His trip was a nightmare compared to the one Always Dreaming received and he still managed to make a late surge to post a respectable result.
He'll face the same uncertainty about energy as the favorite and all the other horses who competed two weeks ago, but otherwise there's no reason to believe he can't flip the script this time around. He shouldn't get caught in nearly as much traffic.
Michael Adolphson of Fair Grounds Race Course is bullish about Classic Empire's chances:
Michael Adolphson @AdolphsonRacing
CLASSIC EMPIRE, post-mint and pleased. Looks better than he did two weeks ago, IMHO. Expecting a big #Preakness run Saturday https://t.co/7bJUDDvAq92017-5-15 14:51:42
Meanwhile, Cloud Computing and Conquest Mo Money have the most upside of the new shooters, but they are likely going to need a drop-off from the top Derby horses to win the Preakness. None of the fresh faces have been standout performers so far in their career.
Horse Racing Nation pointed out only two new shooters have emerged victorious in the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown since 2000:
Horse Racing Nation @HR_Nation
Historically, how do the New Shooters perform against the Kentucky Derby veterans in the Preakness? via @AndyScoggin https://t.co/Jmg1L6oNe2 https://t.co/dAeTmWNPmV2017-5-15 14:31:47
Ultimately, the Preakness could develop into a match race between Always Dreaming and Classic Empire if both horses are able to avoid any early trouble. If they aren't able to overcome fatigue, however, then it becomes a wide-open battle.