New horses among Preakness challenges facing Always Dreaming


There is little doubt Derby victor Always Dreaming will be a deserving favorite to take the 1-3/16 mile race.

Post time for the 142 Preakness Stakes is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

What had been a largely uneventful run-up to the 142nd Preakness changed in a heartbeat Sunday morning when expected starter Royal Mo fractured a sesamoid in his right front during a timed workout at Pimlico Race Course. Royal Mo was taken to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

The draw for the 10-horse field at the Preakness will take place Wednesday at 5 p.m. Following the gate draw, the official morning line odds will be announced. Seeing that, I made a decision to research all the years since starting gates first were employed for the Derby, 87 years ago, and this fact emerged whenever a Derby field included 18, 19 or 20 horses.

Always Dreaming has developed into a market leader in the industry of horse racing at a rapid pace.

The 49-year-old trainer is 0 for 8 in the race. The Kentucky Derby was run on a sloppy track, and Always Dreaming got a flawless ride from Velazquez, who kept him toward the rail before making his move. Nonetheless, though, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Always Dreaming isn't a prohibitive favorite at the Preakness.

Senior Investment had no Derby qualifying points other than the 10 from the Lexington, placing him outside even also-eligible range on the points list. "Southern California was right in the mix if it wasn't for injuries", said Doug O'Neill, trainer of Term of Art.

Beyond pushing against his own limitations, he'll face a solid field of new challengers and unsafe Derby holdovers.

Renewed optimism surrounds Classic Empire's chances in Baltimore. "They came out of the Derby in good shape". Unlike then, he chose to come here early, sending the horse three days after the Derby, to get acclimated.

Always Dreaming came through for them in a big way, beating 33-1 longshot Lookin At Lee by 2-3/4 lengths. While going winless in all three of his Kentucky Derby preps, it's not that Timber Country didn't show up, he just had not yet shown that killer instinct he showed at the end of his two-year-old season.

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With Derby victor Gato Del Sol passing on Baltimore, Linkage was practically conceded the Preakness, and Bill Shoemaker rode him that way.

"In a race like the Derby, it's so paramount to have a good position going into the first turn", Casse said. One happened Saturday, May 7, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Believe it or not, there were - and perhaps still are - racing people who hold the Preakness in higher esteem than the Kentucky Derby.

In 1995, Wayne Lukas took it another step by keeping his Derby victor Thunder Gulch and third-place finisher Timber Country at Churchill Downs until the Wednesday before the Preakness, then won it with Timber Country and finished third with Thunder Gulch.

Conquest Mo Money, a New York-bred son of Uncle Mo, won his first three starts, all at Sunland in a 51-day span.

Classic Empire was an early favorite at the Derby, coming in with five wins in seven career races.

Cloud Computing was among the first group of 2-year-olds Brown received last year. Red Bullet won the Gotham in his third start and was second to Fusaichi Pegasus in the Wood Memorial. His rider, Castellano, is Gunnevera's former rider. Multiplier was timed in 1:00.80, Senior Investment in 1:02. Only a few arrived last week.

In his last three races he finished seventh behind Gormley in the Santa Anita Derby, third behind Mastery in the San Felipe and fourth behind Royal Mo in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.

In some ways, the main characters of this year's Preakness Stakes remind me of Thunder Gulch and Timber Country.