Does Always Dreaming have a shot at winning again?
Kentucky Derby winner chances at Preakness
By Jessica Paquette
Early betting lines brought to you by Bovada.
Always Dreaming delivered as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, and in doing so, earned his fourth straight victory. He won convincingly over an off-track by 2 ¾ lengths and was either near or on the lead the entire way. Now that he has made history and given trainer Todd Pletcher a long-coveted second Kentucky Derby win, the question remains whether or not he can continue the momentum into the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Maryland.
The athletic son of Bodemeister will try to avenge his sire’s narrow defeat.
In 2012, Bodemeister lost the Preakness Stakes by a neck to I’ll Have Another after setting the pace. Always Dreaming does have history on his side – 35 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and have gone on to win the Preakness Stakes.
Of those horses, 12 went on to win the Triple Crown and 23 faltered in the Belmont Stakes. However, looking to the Belmont is getting ahead of ourselves – the next step is to win the Preakness Stakes. In the past five years, three horses have won the Preakness after winning the Run for the Roses – I’ll Have Another (2012), California Chrome (2014) and American Pharoah (2015).
There is only two weeks between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. For some horses, the quick turnaround can be too much to overcome and they can “bounce” or regress off of their effort in the Kentucky Derby. Always Dreaming has reportedly come out of the race in excellent condition and the plan seems to be just to gallop and maintain conditioning into the Preakness Stakes. The concern is that Always Dreaming, on paper, looks like a horse poised to take a big step backwards.
He is coming into the Preakness Stakes off of four consecutive victories. The lightly-raced colt got a crash course in horse racing after breaking his maiden – he stepped up to an allowance race and then took on Grade 1 competition with ease in the Florida Derby.
The colt was notoriously difficult to gallop in the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby and required both a change in exercise rider and the addition of draw reins to keep him from trying to run off. On one hand, he was clearly feeling very good and it showed when it mattered in the race. On the other hand, one could wonder if he peaked and is prime to bounce in his next start.
Always Dreaming will not be unopposed in the Preakness Stakes, either.
In addition to several fresh faces, he will have to contend with some familiar rivals as well. The most intriguing is Classic Empire, who may have the best chance to hand out a defeat. Though his spring campaign was tumultuous, he was the model of professionalism in the Kentucky Derby and his fourth-place finish was better than it appears on paper.
The colt had the worst trip of all and got banged around throughout the race and still ran on gamely. With a better trip, he still may not have defeated Always Dreaming but would have made the race a lot more interesting.
What about the new shooters?
There are going to be several horses who did not compete in the Kentucky Derby. They will try to dethrone Always Dreaming in the Preakness. These horses include Royal Mo, Term of Art and Cloud Computing. Of these competitors, Term of Art is a fascinating longshot.
Owned by Calumet Farm and trained by Doug O’Neill, the big, strapping colt has not yet proven he is truly a graded stakes sort of racehorse. However, he is coming in fresh and that may give him an advantage if he can make a major step forward.
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