Winning the Preakness Stakes will not be an easy task for Always Dreaming.
However, the Kentucky Derby winner will not have to deal with 19 other competitors as he did in the Run for the Roses.
The Preakness traditionally does not draw the full field that the first leg of the Triple Crown does, but it is a major challenge for any champion hoping to add the second Triple Crown race to his resume.
The Preakness is slightly shorter at 1 3/16 miles compared to the 1 1/4-mile test that is the Derby. Additionally, the turns at the Pimlico Race Course are much sharper than those at Churchill Downs.
While it will be a challenging race, Always Dreaming comes into the Preakness at even-money odds, according to OddsShark.
|Early Preakness Odds|
|Irish War Cry||11-2|
|Lookin at Lee||11-1|
|Battle of Midway||11-1|
|Conquest Mo Money||16-1|
Always Dreaming is scheduled to arrive at the Baltimore race track Tuesday even though the Preakness won't be contested until May 20 at 6:45 p.m. ET. Trainer Todd Pletcher wants his charge to get used to his new surroundings as quickly as possible.
“I don’t think going to Belmont for a week and then moving again is an advantage," Pletcher said, per Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun. "So just looking at what the options are, I think Pimlico, there aren’t usually a lot of horses training there, and it’ll be a quiet environment. It’ll give us time to settle in and if we need to, make any adjustments.”
Pletcher plans to have Always Dreaming gallop on a daily basis to get ready for the race, rather than have him run timed workouts. The trainer prefers to keep his colt loose, rather than sharpen him up with bullet workouts.
Irish War Cry and Classic Empire are the second and third choices, respectively, in the Preakness at this point.
Irish War Cry challenged Always Dreaming after that horse took the lead in the Derby after six furlongs, but Irish War Cry was unable to keep up with the winner when he turned it up a notch after reaching the top of the stretch.
Classic Empire was the morning-line favorite in the Derby before his position was usurped by Always Dreaming. Classic Empire was unable to avoid trouble, as he got bumped heavily at the start of the race.
It took him a while to find his stride, and while he picked it up during the stretch run, he had to settle for fourth place.
Irish War Cry has early odds of 11-2, while Classic Empire is just a bit higher-priced at 13-2.
Lookin at Lee and Battle of Midway, who finished second and third respectively in the Derby, are also scheduled to run in the Preakness. Gunnevera is another Derby runner who is planning to compete in Baltimore.
Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money, Malagacy and Practical Joke are the non-Derby runners scheduled to take part in the Preakness.
Always Dreaming is an impressive horse who has won in the mud, in dry conditions, as a front-runner or when coming from off the pace.
That kind of versatility often helps out Triple Crown contenders, who find different circumstances when they move from Louisville, Kentucky, to Baltimore.
Always Dreaming came out of the Derby in good shape, and that should give him an excellent chance to run a strong race. However, Irish War Cry and Classic Empire are both solid horses.
Classic Empire could not overcome an early collision in the Kentucky Derby, but he won't have to contend with the kind of traffic he had at Churchill Downs.
Look for that horse and Always Dreaming to engage in a taut battle, and the Derby champion should survive this all-out battle and win the Preakness Stakes.