Race day has arrived for the running of the 142nd Preakness, and buzz is starting to build around Always Dreaming's Triple Crown chances.
The Kentucky Derby champion ran a sterling race from start to finish two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, and he appears to be in prime position to capture back-to-back victories since he's slated to compete against a smaller and less talented field at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
That said, there are a few quality finishers from the Run for the Roses that will have their sights set on an upset bid, as Always Dreaming and jockey John Velazquez take aim at history.
Before breaking down the top Preakness hopefuls, here's an overview of when and where you can catch all of Saturday's action with a look at the updated betting lines, courtesy of OddsShark.
Date: Saturday, May 20
TV Coverage: NBC (5 p.m. ET)
Post Time: 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
- Always Dreaming - 125
- Classic Empire +300
- Lookin At Lee +1000
- Cloud Computing +1400
- Gunnevera +1600
- Conquest Mo Money +1800
- Hence +2000
- Term of Art +3300
- Senior Investment +3300
- Multiplier +4000
|2017 Preakness Post Positions|
|7||Term of Art|
|9||Lookin At Lee|
|10||Conquest Mo Money|
When it comes to the Preakness, speed is the name of the game.
While the mile-and-a-quarter Kentucky Derby was run in fairly slow fashion on a muddy track, the Preakness projects to fly by at a more brisk pace since it spans just 1 3/16 miles.
That should be good news for Always Dreaming—who proved capable of setting the pace while still having enough gas left in the tank to pull away from the field over the race's final few furlongs.
Take it from Always Dreaming's assistant trainer, and that winning jaunt was a breeze for the burgeoning colt.
"The race, I think, took nothing out of him," Ginny DePasquale said, according to the Baltimore Sun (h/t Sports Xchange, via Reuters). "We're happy. He bounced back almost immediately."
But even if Always Dreaming is in peak shape following a fortnight off, he should still be pressed by Lookin At Lee—who finished a shade under three lengths back in second place at the Kentucky Derby.
"He always tries," trainer Steve Asmussen said of his colt, according to the Courier-Journal's Jason Frakes. "Corey [Lanerie] gave him a great ride. He fits this horse really well. They have qualities you like: They don't give up and always try. He got his dream run. He got his chance. He ran well to the wire. We're very fortunate to have him."
And even though Lookin At Lee hasn't come up with a win since August 2016 at the Ellis Park Juvenile, a second-place finish at the Kentucky Derby paired with a solid third-place showing at the Arkansas Derby in April has him trending in the right direction.
Then there's Classic Empire, who will be in search of a return to form following a fourth-place finish "that included bobbling at the start and then being 'hammered off stride,' as described in the official Equibase chart footnotes," according to the Baltimore Sun.
Classic Empire was also hounded by a right-eye injury that left his face with some cuts and bruises that have since healed.
The Arkansas Derby champion will need a stronger start out of the gate in order to spoil Always Dreaming's Preakness hopes, but if he can avoid hiccups over the first 30 seconds or so, a return to form should be in order.
"The champ's been knocked down, and he's going to come back and try to take back the crown," trainer Mark Casse said of Classic Empire, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "It's got nothing to do with revenge because Always Dreaming did nothing wrong. He's the champ and we're just going to go after him."
Picks: 1. Classic Empire, 2. Always Dreaming, 3. Lookin At Lee