At Wednesday afternoon’s post position draw for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, Always Dreaming, the impressive winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, was assigned post 4 and installed as the 4-5 favorite in the 10-horse field.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming will attempt to become the 36th horse to capture both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The last horse to accomplish the feat was American Pharoah, racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner, in 2015.
“I think (the post) is fine,” Pletcher said. “He was 4 in the Florida Derby and 5 in the Kentucky Derby. He’s generally a very good horse away from the gate. We’ll just come away and try to establish some position and see what some other horses are doing.
“He’s done great (at Pimlico),” Pletcher added. “He’s training forwardly, aggressively, manageably — everything we would like to see.”
Among Always Dreaming’s nine rivals are four of his foes from the Kentucky Derby: Classic Empire (the morning line’s second choice at 3-1), Gunnevera, Hence, and Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee. Five newcomers — Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money, Multiplier, Senior Investment, and Term of Art — round out the field.
Post time for the Preakness, which will be the 13th race on a 14-race program, is 6:48 p.m. First post is 10:30 a.m. and doors open at 8 a.m.
#4 Always Dreaming – Most people seem to feel the same way I do about this horse when it comes to the Preakness. He’s certainly the most likely winner, he looks to be in the best form out of anyone, he’s been perfect in 2017, and he’s getting better with every race, BUT can Todd Pletcher get this horse to win off of two weeks’ rest? That assessment may be unfair, but don’t act like it’s not being talked about across the country. Pletcher prefers more time off between races than this, and I think that many people can’t get Super Saver’s poor effort in the 2010 Preakness out of their minds. This horse is definitely better than Super Saver, though, so that’s not a valid argument. Have faith that Pletcher will get the job done. If the horse is good enough, he’ll have every chance to win. Expect a solid effort.
Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers
#5 Classic Empire – The race comes down to Always Dreaming and Classic Empire in potentially an old-fashioned duel. Do you take the horse that’s been flawless all year, or do you take a risk with the ultra-talented horse that can’t seem to catch a break in 2017? Both horses drew perfectly (side by side), so there will likely be no excuses on Saturday. Classic Empire has shown a lot of toughness in his last two races, especially when nothing went right last time out in the Kentucky Derby. He was able to finish a closing fourth that day, so some people understandably want to play him here, hoping that he gets a clean trip. One problem is this: he’ll need a 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-type of effort to win this one, and it’s been a long time since that race. Nobody knows if he will get back to that kind of effort, but if he’s ever going to do it, this would be the race when he gets it done.
#6 Gunnevera – I’ve been hard on this horse at times, but I love what I’m hearing about him leading up to the Preakness. Several people have said that this horse looks better than he has in a long time, and we all know that he has a tremendous turn of foot. If the pace gets hot up front, he could be there to mow them down late. His move in the Florida Derby was dull, but his run in the Fountain of Youth was strong, so if he brings that race to Baltimore, he could be dangerous.
#2 Cloud Computing – This new shooter will be the one that takes the most money, and trainer Chad Brown thinks very highly of this blossoming colt. My big issue, though, is that he’s finished races behind some New York horses that didn’t fare well in the Kentucky Derby. He’ll definitely need to improve to win, but hitting the board is within the realm of possibilities.
#9 Lookin At Lee – He’s a minor play against here. He’s sure to take a bit of money following that amazing Kentucky Derby effort, but that effort may have been “the race of his life.” His other career races weren’t nearly as good as that last effort. Play him lightly underneath, but play others a bit heavier. That’s not meant as disrespect to the horse, but his odds won’t provide great value this time, and he’s beatable.
#10 Conquest Mo Money – He’s the only one of the new shooters that you should be mildly willing to take a flyer on in this spot. His connections resisted the Kentucky Derby temptations and rested him in order to be ready for the Preakness. That had to be hard for them to do, but it could pay off because he needed the extra two weeks off and enters the race rested and ready to fire his best. His outside post is a little bit of a negative, but expect him to go get the lead and take them as long as he possibly can. If that lead gets lonely out there, well, crazier things have happened.
#3 Hence – He was the “wise guy” horse in the Kentucky Derby because of his win in the Sunland Derby, but his tough trip throughout meant he never factored into the race. The Sunland Derby form looks a bit more questionable now than it was leading up to the Kentucky Derby, so Hence will have to prove himself again.
#1 Multiplier – He comes into this spot with two straight wins, the last coming in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. This is a big jump up in class, though, because the Illinois Derby wasn’t the strongest race, and he only won it by a head late at the wire. He’ll need to improve.
#8 Senor Investment – His impressive win last time out in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes makes him mildly interesting, but is he good enough to compete with this group just yet? Wait and see what he does here before playing him at this level.
#7 Term of Art – He was beaten badly in all four starts this year, so who knows how he factors into this race. He looks to be in way over his head.