Always Dreaming, Classic Empire are neighbors in Preakness

Always Dreaming, Classic Empire are neighbors in Preakness

Always Dreaming, Classic Empire are neighbors in Preakness

On Saturday, racing fans across the country will turn their attention to the $1.5 million, Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

The race takes place on Saturday evening, with a posting time of 6:45 p.m. ET.

Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming, Classic Empire and McCraken are considered the top horses to watch entering the weekend.

"The Preakness is more of a true-run race".

But the Derby champion's trainer, Todd Pletcher, cautioned that the Preakness will not be a two-horse match race, even though Always Dreaming is a 4-5 morning-line favorite and Classic Empire a 3-1 second choice, with no other horse closer than 10-1.

"I wouldn't have wanted to be right down on the rail, and I prefer not to have been on the outside", Casse said.

The Triple Crown, though, requires horses to adhere to the calendar.

Gunnevera, like the Asmussen pair, was making his fourth start of the year in the Derby.

"He's shown us everything we were hoping for leading us back in two weeks", Pletcher said Thursday morning.

Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo, the kids from Brooklyn who grew up 21/2 blocks from each other in the Williamsburg section, are the main owners of the Derby victor, but they insisted on letting some of their friends in for a piece of the action.

He's wolfing down crab cakes at every opportunity and offering up local restaurant tips to anyone who asks.

“We want people to watch, ” he said.

It's not the daily media obligations that are weighing on the seven-time Eclipse Award winning-trainer, as he is more than adept at repeatedly answering similar queries about his stock.

The horse was placed in the barn of Dominick Schettino, where Always Dreaming ran a third at Belmont and a second at Saratoga.

Conquest Mo Money was under consideration for the Kentucky Derby but ultimately passed, as he would have been required to submit a $200,000 supplemental fee after not being nominated for the Triple Crown earlier in the year. Lookin At Lee's sire, Lookin At Lucky, won the Preakness in 2010.

Never one to ignore lessons learned, Pletcher is using his experience with Super Saver to guide Always Dreaming's preparation. He ran a strong race at Churchill Downs with no signs of slowing. And the racing style of Always Dreaming which is based on tactical speed, has historically flattered Preakness contenders.

"It just seemed to make him more determined", Casse said. We're not overthinking it. "He gallops around the track twice, and his exercise rider weighs 150 pounds".

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 was quiet around Pimlico last week, when Always Dreaming practiced standing in the starting gate and visiting the paddock area where he will be saddled indoors on Saturday.

"For some of the owners of horses that got moved about, at minimum, it was frustrating, and I imagine disheartening", Viola said. "He's quiet in the stall". He can do better than that, I just don't know how much better. No one would be surprised to see Always Dreaming win again, he's been training on the muscle, looking very lively, tips that the short turnaround may not bother him.

Hence, who won a race at Oaklawn before shipping to New Mexico and winning the Sunland Derby, never had a shot in the Kentucky Derby, stuck in the middle of the pack while eating mud the entire trip.

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