Always Dreaming is 4-5 early favorite for Preakness


The post-position draw is a tense ordeal at the Kentucky Derby, where every patch of free space is precious because of the 20-horse field.

The two best horses in the Preakness will be eyeball to eyeball coming out of the starting gate.

"The Derby is a race we always want to win".

With no other options, jockey Julien Leparoux took Classic Empire wide on the second turn in an effort to get back in the race.

"Hopefully, they both have good trips, break good and it could be interesting", said Mark Casse, who trains Classic Empire. They may go at it right from the start.

Rated the second pick for the Preakness at 3-1 was Classic Empire, who finished fourth at the Kentucky Derby and will break alongside Always Dreaming from the fifth gate. Altogether, he'll face nine other horses in the 1 3/16-mile race worth $1.5 million. The race is scheduled for a 6:48 p.m. EST start time and it will be televised nationally on NBC.

The eighth running of the six-furlong Chick Lang is one of two stakes for 3-year-olds on the undercard of the 142nd Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Horse racing has gone through a positive cycle the last few years with American Pharoah winning the first triple crown in 37 years, California Chrome becoming the sports career money leader and then Arrogate overtaking Chrome and still active and racing with 17 million dollars in the bank and counting. Fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Classic Empire tries again in the Preakness. Not bad for a two year old champion who survived an injury and missed training time last winter to get this far. Casse insists the Preakness isnt about revenge, although he likened his horse to Rocky Balboa. Three Rules set the pace into upper stretch in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby (G1) April 1, tiring to finish fifth behind Derby victor Always Dreaming.

Casse likes the neighboring posts.

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"Governor (Larry) Hogan has made it clear that he wants to see the Preakness stay in Baltimore", Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said Wednesday.

"The Preakness will always be extremely special to me because it was the first classic we won", said Asmussen. It's always nice to have a horse going for the Triple Crown.

"I think Conquest Mo Money will come from the outside and come down", Casse said.

Always Dreaming and Classic Empire are the only two horses with single-digit odds in the field. Lookin At Lee's sire, Lookin At Lucky, won the Preakness in 2010. He drew the No. 9 post.

Joel Rosario rides Projected from Post 4, while Catapult breaks from the eight-hole under Hall of Famer-elect Javier Castellano.

There's a pair of 15-1 shots: Gunnevera (seventh in the Derby) and Conquest Mo Money, whose owners paid $150,000 to supplement their horse. He is the prohibitive 4-5 morning line favorite from post 4 in a field of 10.

Trainer Doug O'Neill's record in big races can not be ignored, but his Preakness entry, Term of Art, is a 30-1 choice starting from the No. 7 post. It was partially for this reason that his trainer, 2016 Eclipse Award victor Chad Brown, opted to bypass the Kentucky Derby and point to the Preakness, along with the fact that owners Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence had Practical Joke for the Derby, in which he ran fifth.

Trainer Steve Asmussen will saddle two starters: Lookin At Lee and Hence.