Tuesday, 25 July, 2017

Top two horses in the field are starting gate neighbors

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming stands outside his barn at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore Monday Top two horses in the field are starting gate neighbors
Kristopher Love | 19 May, 2017, 07:11

The Kentucky Derby victor is the 4-5 morning-line favorite and looking to make the second step toward becoming thoroughbred horse racing's 13th Triple Crown victor and second in the last three years. By bypassing a series of prep races in stakes and focusing on smaller building blocks, Pletcher gambled that he would have a colt who would produce when it mattered in the Florida Derby and thus would be set for the demands of what lay ahead.

"It's really a tremendous respect for the Preakness", Pletcher said. He was training well, acting well, but I wasn't seeing the same energy level from him galloping. “If we cant win, I want Always Dreaming to win because this sport is so important to me. He broke his maiden in December at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and two months later he won an allowance race at Oaklawn before jumping to the Louisiana Derby, where he was off the board. The memories come to life of Seabiscuit, Man 'O War, Secretariat and the latest super horse, American Pharoah, come to life when you walk through the gates. "The great thing is, wherever you go here, there are crab cakes available". Instead of throwing Always Dreaming into the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 4, Pletcher ran him in an allowance race that day at Gulfstream against inferior competition. Activity at the track has increased for race week.

"Let's hope that Sunday morning we wake up and have to think about that", he said.

More important, as in the Derby, is for jockey John Velazquez to get Always Dreaming into a position where his long, loping stride is unencumbered.

"It's an ideal spot for Classic Empire", conceded Always Dreaming trainer Todd Pletcher, whom, despite winning seven Eclipse Awards, is looking to saddle his first Preakness champion. He passed horses while racing wide in the final turn but flattened out when they hit the stretch. "It gives the rider added leverage, and he's able to keep the horse more under control and keep the horse framed up with his head down instead of up". If Always Dreaming breaks running and we break running, if Julien thinks Always Dreaming is running too easy, he'll go up and engage him earlier. You're coming back in 14 days from the Kentucky Derby, which can be a very demanding race ... the horse is fit and ready. The first official Preakness was won by Survivor with a 10 length cushion between him and second place.

Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming stands outside his barn at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Monday, May 15, 2017.

Bodemeister will have a chance to complete the coveted Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in NY on June 10.

With the Kentucky Derby victor and other top 3-year-olds heading to Baltimore for the Preakness, plus more top horses lining up for a total of 14 other stakes races - including five graded events - to be run on Friday and Saturday, now is... NBC will televise the race. Chief among them is Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming, who was installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite.

Conditions should be better on Saturday and Classic Empire will be starting just outside of Always Dreaming in the fifth starting gate for the mile and 3/16ths race. "Right now he looks like he's very, very happy".