Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Derby winner an early favorite for the Preakness

Derby winner an early favorite for the Preakness

Anytime a trainer of one of the favorites has to come out and say that it's not a two-horse race you can bet that it's actually probably a two-horse race.

Classic Empire (3-1), last year's Juvenile champion will take on this year's Derby victor, Always Dreaming (4-5), in the middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown.

"Always Dreaming was able to work a flawless trip on what was the best part of the race track, the inside rail, " Bailey said.

The Preakness will be held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, where co-favourite Always Dreaming stalked the lead for the first half of the 1-1/4 mile classic before taking charge going into the far turn at Churchill Downs.

In the Preakness, Always Dreaming will break from the No. 4 post, a spot that has produced 13 winners but none since Curlin in 2007.

Lookin At Lee (second in the Derby), 10-1, is unlikely to get another ideal come-from-behind trip. He's a 10-1 third favorite, starting from the No. 9 gate. They've known each other nearly as long as Dilger's been in Kentucky and have been successful in various deals over the years, however when they bred a mare they bought together in 2006, Above Perfection, to Bodemeister, Dilger knew immediately that they'd struck gold. He won his first three races at Sunland Park and finished second in his last two, the Sunland Derby and the Arkansas Derby.

Trainer Steve Asmussen will saddle two starters: Lookin At Lee and Hence. "He always does. He tries so hard". The weather is supposed to warm in Baltimore Saturday, but the Pimlico track will be dry.

"It's fine", said Todd Pletcher, noting that Always Dreaming had the No. 4 post in the Florida Derby and No. 5 in the Kentucky Derby, two of his four victories this year. That's a ideal scenario for Lookin at Lee.

The original, said to be worth $1 million and reputedly the most valuable trophy in American sports, is brought to the course for one day only and is kept in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Another consideration underneath is Gunnevera (15-1), trained by Antonio Sano, a horse who just couldn't seem to get his footing in the Derby.

"It was always our dream to get a horse in a big race, and we're always dreaming in life, not just in horse racing", he said. "He's taken on everything you could throw at him".

"Always Dreaming hasn't had many obstacles to face", he said.

The only concern was maybe he was too good too soon. "My wife said, 'I've never seen you that excited, ' and I said, 'That's our guy'".

Pletcher has won Eclipse Awards seven times as the nations leading trainer, including four in a row.

“Lets hope that Sunday morning we wake up and have to think about that, ” he said.

Unraced before this season, Conquest Mo Money already has earned $508,900. Another is Cloud Computing, who figures to be sitting just off the leaders. Smarty Jones also led the Belmont Stakes for much of the way before getting passed late in the race and losing by a length to Birdstone. The horse won't have a chance to contradict them until they race, anyway, so optimism flows. And Always Dreaming is simply faster than Conquest Mo Money.

The course record of 1:53 minutes was set by legendary Triple Crown victor Secretariat in 1973.

Like this: