Two weeks ago the first leg of the Triple Crown was installed with Always Dreaming taking the trophy and blanket of roses.
The Kentucky Derby was about as wide open as this race could have been in recent years but Always Dreaming proved he is the real deal. His task to win the Preakness will be a bit easier than it was two weeks ago, with only 4 of his previous competitors lining up to threaten his chances of advancing to the last leg of the Triple Crown. There will be well rested, fresh, legitimate rivals showing up for this competition.
One aspect that will make this race less contentious for Always Dreaming will be the pacing factor. Conquest Mo Money will likely come in from the outside and set the pace. During the Kentucky Derby Always Dreaming proved that he’s capable of contesting fast fractions and he’ll likely do that again tomorrow. Veteran Jockey Johnny Velasquez played it right running up in front during the Kentucky Derby so that his horse was not washed down with mud being kicked up into its face. I would not be shocked to see Velasquez let Always Dreaming set the pace, but I do believe he will position himself closer toward the rail, tucked in behind the speed, letting early pace setters go on until after the half mile. Cloud Computing and Classic Empire will be stalking the pace. However, if Jockey Julien Leparoux gets a clean break he may repeat his run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November and try for the early lead. If this occurs, Velasquez will have to watch the pace.
One of the most striking performances came from Lookin At Lee in the Kentucky Derby with jockey Corey Lanerie. He did everything right and rode the rail taking advantage of the perceived track bias that allowed him to hold his own. I don’t see him being able to capitalize on this venture like he did in the Derby. He will be at a much shorter price in the Preakness and his talent will be much more comparable to the efforts of Hence and Gunnevera.
All eyes will be on Always Dreaming in the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes. Radio Executive Tom Wilson, who has a modest interest in this horse, said he was having lunch with his friend Robert Jackson when Terry Finley, Owner of West Point Thoroughbred’s, called and offered a share of Always Dreaming weeks prior to the colt winning the Florida Derby. Wilson along with Robert Jackson of Jackson Dieken & Associates and Chris Haas of All Pro Freight Systems, all from the Cleveland, Ohio area, share a minor investment in Always Dreaming. Of the win in the Kentucky Derby Wilson happily claimed, “I can’t believe it!” He’s been in partnerships in the past, but nothing like this has ever happened. In 2011 Wilson had some luck with a horse called Freedom Child along with West Point Thoroughbred’s partnership winning the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park by 13-1/4 length margin. While Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo of New York are the majority owners of Always Dreaming, Wilson stated, “I’m grateful to have this opportunity to share with my friends.”
Since 1997 only three Preakness winners did not race in the Kentucky Derby they are Rachel Alexandra in 2009, Bernardini in 2006 and Red Bullet in 2000. Always Dreaming will be breaking from post 4. The last Preakness winner from post 4 was Curlin in 2007. While post position isn’t as critical in this race as it is in the Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming will be the ninth horse trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled over the years for the Preakness Stakes. Neither trainer Pletcher nor jockey Johnny Velasquez has won the Preakness but the odds favor Pletcher tomorrow as ten of the last 20 derby winners went on to win the Preakness.
Always Dreaming is the morning line favorite at 4-5 and will be breaking from post 4 in a field of 10. Classic Empire will break from post five with odds of 3-1. If Always Dreaming’s tactical speed gives him the win tomorrow, he’ll build some positive momentum to the sport attracting new fans and allow the owners to keep the dream alive and move on to the third leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park! Post time is set for 6:48pm ET. Good luck race fans!