Trainer Todd Pletcher said he had his first anxious moment since the Derby on Monday, when Kentucky Derby victor and Preakness favorite Always Dreaming stumbled at the beginning of his 1 1/2-mile gallop over the Pimlico main track.
Royal Mo didn't get into the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby, so Shirreffs had pointed him toward the Preakness, which is Saturday.
The colt was taken to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center for treatment. "Our hopes and dreams were with Royal Mo". Entries are due Wednesday morning, and posts will be drawn early Wednesday evening. Following the gate draw, the official morning line odds will be announced.
The roaring 20s, that's right, with prohibition, speakeasies and Al Capone all wrapped into one, started the decade that saw Man O' War prove the prompt chalk in the second jewel.
So, with an m.o. such as this, is Pletcher actually exhibiting some of the traits of those old school trainers in his handling of Always Dreaming? Pletcher is known for being a conservative trainer, preferring long periods of time between races. 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.
With quite a few familiar faces and many newcomers trying their chances at the Preakness, there's a ton of value going against the even money favorite.
The trip in the Preakness should be easier to negotiate than the Kentucky Derby in at least one respect: Instead of 20 horses battling for position, the Preakness could go off with a 10-horse field. This is his second time taking the Derby victor to the Preakness; Super Saver finished a disappointing eighth for him in 2010.
Classic Empire, who already had 100 points before winning the Arkansas Derby, and was the 2-year-old champion and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile victor, is a better horse than it appeared in the Derby. "But as far as the post position in this field - I don't think it's almost as critical as it is in the Derby".
Gunnevera: Failed to contend in the Derby after good showings in prior stakes. "The Derby victor is going to be hard to beat, but we're just going to take our chance, and hopefully he gets a good trip and likes the surface at Pimlico".
The week before the Derby, Always Dreaming was so aggressive in training that Pletcher changed exercise riders, moving to the stronger Bush, and added draw reins to the equipment.
The second finisher in the Preakness previous year Cherry Wine did not run in the Kentucky Derby.
Timing was just right for the Florida Derby victor who took the Gulfstream race by five lengths, registering the fastest clocking since Alydar in 1978. One happened Saturday, May 7, in Louisville, Kentucky. It's just that the scrutiny on the Derby victor is so much greater.
The Kentucky Derby's morning-line favorite and the nation's top 2-year-old of 2016 had abrasions, an eye that was almost swollen shut and a fourth-place finish after being knocked around at Churchill Downs on May 6. Conquest Mo Money also wasn't nominated to the Triple Crown - which his connections said was simply an oversight - and it would have cost $200,000 to supplement him before the Derby.
Tom and Sandra McKenna, who own Conquest Mo Money, feel the same way about the New York-bred they snagged last November for a measly $8,500 at Conquest Stable's dispersal sale. The two seconds were in the Arkansas Derby (won by Classic Empire) and the Sunland Derby (won by Hence).
Cloud Computing was among the first group of 2-year-olds Brown received last year. He is 1-1-1 in three starts with a win in a six-furlong race at Aqueduct in February. Red Bullet won the Gotham in his third start and was second to Fusaichi Pegasus in the Wood Memorial.
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