Always Dreaming heavily favored in early Preakness wagering


There will be live harness racing at the Meadowlands following the Preakness, with the first post time set for 7:15 p.m.

Of course, it's become incumbent for the trainer of the Derby victor to bring the champ to Pimlico for a shot at making a Triple Crown bid. American Pharoah swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont two years ago, ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought.

"I think he's a very good horse", Pletcher said of Lookin At Lee. A descendant of the legendary Northern Dancer, who ran to victory in record time in the 1964 Kentucky Derby and followed up with wins at the Preakness and the Queen's Plate, Lookin at Lee has recorded five top-three finishes in seven career stakes races but has yet to find the winner's circle. The main challenger to the favorite is juvenile champion Classic Empire, who overcame a rough start and wide trip to finish a solid fourth in Louisville.

At the same time, Classic Empire will fire and start closing ground on Always Dreaming, slowly, then faster and with 100 yards to go he takes the lead.

At one point, he thought: "I'm going to win the Derby!" Only two horses since 2000 have skipped the Derby and won the Preakness. "We run a lot on weekends, so there are a lot of weekends, you know I'm not complaining, but I've got to be glued to the computer or glued to the TV, sending e-mails and making sure people know what's going on". "We'll just let him run his race".

Pletcher has saddled eight runners in the Preakness without a win, a statistic likely to be heard often leading into Saturday.

Trainer Steve Asmussen could send Sunland Park Derby victor Hence (11th in Kentucky) out to battle for the lead, which might be his best chance.

Among the most interesting new shooters Always Dreaming will face is Conquest Mo Money.

A groom unwraps a leg covering on Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming as he prepares for a wash following a walk on the track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Friday, May 19, 2017. Classic Empire or Always Dreaming in exactas with Conquest Mo Money, boxed, may be the best bet of the day. He prefers being closer to the pace and he will have every opportunity to do so racing over a (hopefully) fast track, and versus a much smaller field in the Preakness Stakes.

"Always Dreaming was the best in the Derby, and there are other good horses".

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There's a posse of contenders that would love to extend that history. Conquest Mo Money's fight against some of this year's top 3-year-olds has been impressive and there is no doubt he'll be one to watch in the Preakness. He could use his speed to pressure Always Dreaming early or go for the lead outright.

Castellano jumped to Cloud Computing, which has become something of a hot name, mostly because he hasn't run since the Wood Memorial when he was third behind Irish War Cry and Battalion Runner.

Lookin At Lee jockey Corey Lanerie admitted his horse will need "help" and "luck" because Always Dreaming "looked mighty tough".

"We're running him because we think he's the best horse and given the results of the Derby, we didn't change or mind", Casse said.

CLOUD COMPUTING, at 12-1, will start from the No. 2 gate, while 15-1 CONQUEST MO MONEY starts on the outside and 15-1 GUNNEVERA, seventh in the Derby, leaves from the sixth gate.

A groom bathes Preakness Stakes entrant Term of Art outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Friday, May 19, 2017 following a morning gallop.

The Southern Colorado rancher was a bit out of her element, walking around the paddock at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

The importance to me is that Classic Empire is entering the 3rd race of his current form cycle and should be at or near peak condition.

Classic Empire's troubles are well-documented.