Sportsbooks Say Hello to New Preakness Stakes Favorite
Always Dreaming is the sportsbooks’ favourite to win the Preakness Stakes following his victory this Saturday at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt became the fifth straight post-time favourite to win the Run of the Roses, as well as the 16th horse in history to win from post position #5. Meanwhile, Pletcher won his second Derby after taking it home with Super Saver in 2010, as did jockey John Velazquez who had crossed the finish line first with Animal Kingdom in 2011. Always Dreaming came out of the race in good shape – though the same could not necessarily be said of Classic Empire – and will be shipped to Baltimore in the next few days for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
The track at Churchill Downs was labeled as “Wet Fast (sealed)” even though there was some standing water as result of persistent rain over a period of several days. Dubai-based Thunder Snow proved he was ironically named when he started bucking after the race started and did not finish. Furthermore, Classic Empire and McCraken collided at the start. “Classic Empire really got clobbered,” said the colt’s trainer Mark Casse. “The track is impossible. Our horse ran extremely well, considering.”
Always Dreaming used his built-in Waze app to avoid traffic and settle in second behind State of Honor, whom sportsbooks considered to be a long shot. In the first turn, Velazquez kept his horse along the rail and moved him to the outside of State of Honor down the backstretch. State of Honor started to fade in the far turn while Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry moved ahead to compete for the lead. Always Dreaming responded by drawing away, taking a lead of several lengths. Lookin At Lee found racing room and made a late run for the lead, but never touched Always Dreaming who crossed the finish line with a margin of 2 3⁄4lengths. Battle of Midway came five lengths behind in third place while Classic Empire finished fourth.
According to Velazquez, Always Dreaming “is the best horse Todd and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with.” The question is, will he be the best entering the Preakness Stakes. Pletcher surely hopes so, considering he has yet to win The Second Jewel of the Triple Crown in eight starts – most recently with Stradivari who finished 4th last year. In Casse’s camp, the trainer has not ruled out at attempt to Strike Back with Classic Empire, but he did note that the colt came out of the Derby with a couple of superficial cuts on his legs and a swollen eye. Classic is the third sportsbooks’ favorite to win Preakness behind Irish War Cry. IWC tracked the early pace at Churchill Downs but faded to finish in 10th place. The 2017 Preakness Stakes will be the 142nd edition of this race and it is scheduled to be held on Saturday, May 20th at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland and as is usually the case, several shooters can be expected to try their luck there.