Always Dreaming will bid to win the second leg of the Triple Crown when the 2017 Preakness Stakes takes place at Baltimore's Pimlico course on Saturday, May 20.
The winner of this year's Kentucky Derby is the betting favorite at evens to win at Preakness. However, Classic Empire is sure to be a strong challenger after finishing fourth, despite being disrupted by a three-horse collision at Churchill Downs.
Lookin At Lee is also a contender, while Gunnevera may be the best of the dark-horse picks for the 142nd edition of the Preakness.
Here is the projected field for the second leg of the Triple Crown, along with the latest odds, per Oddschecker:
|Preakness 2017 Projected Field and Odds|
|Always Dreaming||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||EVEN|
|Classic Empire||Mark Casse||Julien Leparaoux||5-1|
|Lookin At Lee||Steve Asmussen||Corey Lanerie||10-1|
|Hence||Steve Asmussen||Florent Geroux||14-1|
|Gunnevera||Antonio Sano||Mike Smith||16-1|
|Conquest Mo Money||Miguel Hernandez||Jorge Carreno||16-1|
|Cloud Computing||Chad Brown||Javier Castellano||20-1|
|Multiplier||Brendan Walsh||Joel Rosario||25-1|
|Senior Investment||Ken McPeek||Channing Hill||25/1|
|Term of Art||Doug O'Neill||Joseph Talamo||33/1|
Pletcher's Always Dreaming is a worthy favorite after the way the horse finished strongly to win in Louisville. However, there are reasons to believe Always Dreaming won't make it two for two in the Triple Crown.
The most notable of those reasons is Pletcher's mixed history in Pimlico, particularly with winners from Kentucky. It's not as if Pletcher's horses have struggled in Baltimore, it's more how he's shunned involving them for Preakness.
Horse Racing Nation's Brian Zipse detailed how Pletcher, who has rarely put forward winners from Kentucky for Preakness, has a mixed overall record in this race: "In total, Pletcher has only run eight horses in the Preakness. Five of them had not run in the Derby, with the best result of quintet coming last year when Stradivari finished fourth behind Exaggerator."
Of course, Pletcher's decision to let Always Dreaming run could be a reflection of his immense confidence in the gifted horse. The confidence is well-founded after impressive wins at both Florida and Kentucky.
Yet there are a few hidden contenders who could keep things close. Among them, Cloud Computing is swift enough to enjoy the track at Pimlico.
The three-year old trained by Chad Brown has looked impressive in practice sessions, according to Daily Racing Form's David Grening:
Cloud Computing has also been running well on the Belmont Park training track recently. It's excellent preparation for Pimlico.
Of the other outsiders, Gunnevera has the power and speed to make 16-1 an outstanding bet. The horse is in the kind of condition needed to handle what is a tricky course in Baltimore, particularly if rain and mud build up before the race proper.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Gunnevera looks primed to produce a strong finish late on the six-furlong track.
Elsewhere, another intriguing dark-horse candidate Royal Mo has been retired after an ankle injury picked up during workouts, per John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times.
Cloud Computing and Gunnevera are the most worthy dark-horse favorites to back on race day next Saturday. Even so, it's going to take something special for any other horse in the field to beat Always Dreaming across the line.