Always Dreaming, Classic Empire are neighbors in Preakness

18 May, 2017, 17:52 | Author: Douglas Reid
  • Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is washed after a workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore Wednesday

At Wednesday afternoon's post position draw for Saturday's $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, Always Dreaming, the impressive victor of the Kentucky Derby, was assigned post 4 and installed the 4-5 favorite in the 10-horse field. Classic Empire received a Gate 5 starting spot in the post position draw for the 10-horse field on Wednesday afternoon. "It's just that, in a lot of cases, we felt like our horses need a little more time to recover", Pletcher said.

One start before the Lexington, Senior Investment was sixth in his only other stakes race, the Louisiana Derby, a race from which the one-two finishers - Girvin and Patch - came back to be rear-half finishers in the Kentucky Derby.

Lookin At Lee, a veteran of 10 races who always runs hard, will start from the No. 9 post as a 10-1 third choice.

Classic Empire's trainer, Mark Casse, is hardly disappointed by the size of the Preakness field.

To grasp how important Wednesday's draw was for the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, all you have to do is examine the moments before the papers were pulled.

"For the most part, I think the better horses are in the Derby, and that's probably why so many of them come back and have success in this race", said Pletcher, who saddled just eight prior Preakness starters with the third-place finish by Impeachment in 2000 representing his lone placing.

For Always Dreaming's owners, the dream of winning was first imagined 50 years ago while sitting on their Brooklyn stoop.

Always Dreaming and Classic Empire are the only two horses with single-digit odds in the field.

At one point, he thought: "I'm going to win the Derby!"

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With his horse straddling the ideal line between composed and raring to go, he has repeatedly asserted his confidence this week.

"Hence didn't really run his race in the Derby". On a sloppy track, he covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.59 to beat Lookin At Lee by 2 3/4 lengths and Battle of Midway by 7 3/4.

Gunnevera, Lookin At Lee, and Hence all have raced four times this year, as has Always Dreaming.

Classic Empire's handlers aren't the only ones eager for another shot at Always Dreaming. "So I think he checks all those boxes".

The most recent Preakness victor to break from Gate 4 was Curlin in 2007.

Asmussen is also bringing back Hence, who didn't react well to the mud at Churchill Downs and ran a disappointing 11th.

"His personality and gamesmanship are what gave us confidence in him going into the Derby", trainer Steve Asmussen said.

Derby seventh Gunnevera has a jockey change with "Big Money" Mike Smith taking over from Javier Castellano, who rides new shooter Cloud Computing. Lexington Stakes victor Senior Investment is also 30-1, starting from the No. 8 post.

Trainers (by post position): 1, Brendan Walsh. Since 1997, just three Preakness winners did not race in the Kentucky Derby: Red Bullet in 2000, Bernardini in 2006, and the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009. You are out of trouble and you can see how it is going to play.

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