The 142nd Preakness Stakes takes place this Saturday (5 p.m., NBC) at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, MD, and it drew a field of 10. Chief among them is Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, who was installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite. We’ll take an in-depth look at him and a pair of challengers here to see if we’ll have a shot at another Triple Crown champion or if those dreams will be dashed before the horses even arrive at Belmont Park.
Always Dreaming (Post position: 4, Odds: 4-5)
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Todd Pletcher got his second Derby win two weeks ago and will now attempt to win his first ever Preakness (0-for-8). Curiously, jockey John Velazquez has also never won the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, though he’s run second two times.
Always Dreaming could have a decided tactical edge in the 1 3/16th-mile Preakness with just one true frontrunning rival, Conquest Mo Money, to do battle with. Always Dreaming was able to survive a spirited pace duel in the
Kentucky Derby to win by nearly three lengths while never seriously threatened by runner-up Lookin At Lee, who drew post nine for the rematch.
“I’m just very, very pleased with the way he’s come out of the Derby and the way he looks at Pimlico,” Pletcher told the LA Times earlier in the week. “He seems to be proud of himself and doing well.”
Always Dreaming’s odds will be wholly unappealing but he’s a threat to make it five straight wins and walk into the Belmont Stakes with a shot at joining a select few by winning the Triple Crown.
Classic Empire (Post Position: 5, Odds: 3-1)
The 2016 Juvenile Eclipse Award winner had a troubled road to the Kentucky Derby and had a trip that mirrored his early-year adversity in the “Run for the Roses.” He was slammed into soon after the start and was forced at least six-wide into the stretch. Despite the hardship, Classic Empire and jockey Julien Leparoux managed to pick up fourth, beaten eight lengths by Always Dreaming. However, he probably spotted nearly that much ground to the winner. Look for him to at least make it a closer contest this time around.
Conquest Mo Money (Post Position: 10, Odds: 15-1)
Conquest Mo Money was under consideration for the Kentucky Derby but ultimately passed, as he would have been required to submit a $200,000 supplemental fee after not being nominated for the Triple Crown earlier in the year. His little-known connections still ponied up $150,000 to start in the Preakness, a sure sign of confidence. Conquest Mo Money will likely be tasked with keeping Always Dreaming honest early, but the pace should not be that rapid. Conquest Mo Money demonstrated good stamina when he refused to capitulate in the Arkansas Derby until the very end after setting legitimate early fractions. He and jockey Jorge Carreno, who rides in his first ever Triple Crown race, will have to get a better start from the far outside post today to have a shot at pulling off the upset. A minor award is more likely for him.