To cash either of these bets, Classic Empire must win and Gunnevera or Conquest Mo Money must finish second.
"The horse is doing unbelievably well in the two-week turnaround", Pletcher said, via Preakness.com. They will start side-by-side in posts four and five, respectively. Altogether, he'll face nine other horses in the 1 3/16-mile race worth $1.5 million. Those colts had won many more major races at this stage so there is just not enough evidence to put the 2017 Derby victor in the class of the 2014 and 2015 Derby winners who, of course, won five of six Triple Crown races.
The Kentucky Derby victor had as good a trip as he could have hoped for.
Post positions were drawn Wednesday on a steamy, unseasonable 92-degree day. In Saturday's 142nd Preakness, they're getting their rematch in hopes of cutting Always Dreaming's Triple Crown dream short.
The Preakness has been relatively predictable over the past few years, as the first or second betting choices have won 14 of the 16 renewals, including Triple Crown victor American Pharoah in 2015.
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Classic Empire will likely have a much better chance to beat Always Dreaming now than he did two weeks ago, when The Arkansas Derby victor was slammed out of the gate, compromising his chances on track that played to speed that weekend, had mud in his face for a mile and a quarter, was hit again, and still finished a gutty and respectable fourth. In 2016, Classic Empire was the 2-yr old champion and made his 2017 debut in February in the G2 Holy Bull where he finished a disappointing 3rd. Casse insists the Preakness isn't about revenge, although he likened his horse to Rocky Balboa. Trainer John Shirreffs said Royal Mo had successful surgery to fix the break, but that the colt's racing career was over.
Recent history supports Always Dreaming's chances. "We run a lot on weekends, so there are a lot of weekends, you know I'm not complaining, but I've got to be glued to the computer or glued to the TV, sending e-mails and making sure people know what's going on".
Casse likes the neighboring posts. Although, I'm fairly confident connections wouldn't race him if he's not at 100 percent, but it may be something to watch out for.
The added pace pressure should set up things nicely for horses coming from farther back. He drew the No. 9 post.
Gunnevera and Conquest Mo Money are two horses that have a chance for a top three finish. He will break from the No. 2 hole.
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After being bumped and jostled early at Churchill Downs, Classic Empire finished a disappointing fourth.
Much will have to fall into place for Always Dreaming to have a date with destiny at Belmont Park.
The only reason Pletcher is at historic but crumbling Pimlico Race Course is because he has the Kentucky Derby victor.
It's Preakness week, so Pimlico Race Course is adorned with fresh flowers, coated in bright paint and filled with the anticipation that comes with hosting the state's biggest sporting event of the year.
When we got post four for the 10-horse Preakness on Saturday, I received all the reassurance I needed when Todd Pletcher, our trainer, looked me in the eye and said, "I like the draw". He's a really good 3-year-old and he's had a little bit more time to recover from the Arkansas Derby.
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Before 1931, the Preakness had been run on every day of the week but Sunday. "We get along so well that it's like we're just one". "We'll be sitting on pins and needles Saturday, thinking, 'What's going to break today?'"