Preakness Stakes Date and Time: Saturday, May 20, 2017, 6:45 p.m. ET
Location: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, MD
Favorite on Preakness Stakes Odds: Always Dreaming ( +100 )
Preakness Stakes TV Coverage: NBC
It's not all that surprising that Always Dreaming is the even money bet to win the Preakness Stakes. The Kentucky Derby winner is generally at least pretty close to odds-on in the second leg of the Triple Crown, and usually, those who really have a serious chance to capture all three legs end up being heavy, heavy favorites at Pimlico.
It's still far too early to know who's going to go up against Always Dreaming at the Preakness Stakes, but the field that is waiting for him that didn't run in the Kentucky Derby could be a good one, headlined by Conquest Mo Money, the second place finisher in the Arkansas Derby and Malagacy, the Rebel Stakes winner and the favorite from the Arkansas Derby.
Still, the path for Always Dreaming is going to be fairly straightforward. He has a lot of speed and would benefit from an inside position at Pimlico, particularly with the short amount of running room heading into the first turn. From there, he'll have to stay at the head of the pack and ultimately find a way to avoid any sort of trouble. Late contenders will have to deal with all of the great speed that Always Dreaming has down the stretch, though we wonder whether the challengers at the Kentucky Derby were really all they were cracked up to be and whether there are bigger problems coming on the horizon.
John Velazquez is a fine jockey, and Todd Pletcher is one of the best trainers out there. But Pletcher now has just two Kentucky Derby wins under his belt in his career, and this is the first time that he and Johnny V will head to the Preakness with a Triple Crown contender. Always Dreaming has been excellent with Velazquez onboard at 4-for-4, and the Kentucky Derby was a fantastic run. But what happens if things aren't ultimately perfect at Pimlico?
That's what really bothers us about Always Dreaming. He only got off to one relatively slow start in his career, that coming in his second maiden race with Joe Bravo onboard last year at Saratoga. He finished second in the race, showcasing having far more in the tank than the six furlongs allowed him to travel, but he was erratic and badly needed to be settled down to have a shot at winning.
With Velazquez on the mount, Always Dreaming has never known what it's like to run firmly behind a horse. Sure, he wasn't technically on the lead at the Florida Derby when he walked away from the field and won by five lengths, but he was never in any serious traffic either. The field at the Preakness Stakes won't be nearly as big as the Kentucky Derby's field was, but the bottom line is that everyone is now going to be trying to figure out how to run a race that takes Always Dreaming off of his game.
The end result? More rabbits going after him. Then we'll see what this thoroughbred is really made of.
We suspect that Always Dreaming is going to be one-and-done on the Triple Crown trail, and we'll probably never really hear from him again until the Breeders' Cup, if even then. This just doesn't strike us as a fabulous, can't miss horse, and that rather slow Kentucky Derby time of 2:03.59, particularly after running a really fast first half mile in 23:83 is a concern. We'll find others to wager on at far better prices in two weeks.