New horses among Preakness challenges facing Always Dreaming

The likely favorite for Saturday's 142nd Preakness Stakes spent last week regaining strength after his win over a muddy track in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Even when a horse dominates the Kentucky Derby, there's never a shortage of overmatched challengers waiting to take him on in the Preakness. Good horses no longer lie in wait for the Preakness. A popular tradition each year during Preakness week, "Sunrise at Old Hilltop" allows racing enthusiasts to take a free walking tour through the Pimlico backstretch and grandstand during training hours. He hasn't faced a horse in Always Dreaming's class and lost to Derby flops J Boys Echo (15th) and Irish War Cry (10th). "You just don't know how the other horses are going to break".

The Derby could not have unfolded much better for the Pletcher-trained colt. Pencil in hand, Genter expanded on his thinking. "He gave me a bit of a fright, but he looks good back here and cooled out excellent".

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky). Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming, ridden by exercise rider Nick Bush, walks at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Monday, May 15, 2017.

This year the thinking is the exact opposite, and it's the absence of California horses that is so glaring.

"What we're hoping for", he said, "is that they both get fair trips, they both are eyeing each other at the quarter-pole and they can sort it out down the lane". "Hopefully we get a cleaner trip at Pimlico". "The victor is a good horse".

Who's the best of the newcomers?

"From the point of view of speed handicappers, it was much faster than any 3-year-old in the United States ever has run", Beyer wrote.

As though trying to make his sire proud, Always Dreaming succeeded where his father Bodemeister failed.

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In the last two decades, other Lexington winners to make an impact on the classics include Belmont victor Touch Gold (1997) and Proud Citizen (2002), second in the Derby and third in the Preakness. Clark was one of them. McCracken will also skip the Belmont Stakes on June 10. "Not taking anything from what he did, I just want to have a good race for both of them, and see which one is the best one".

Neither mud nor inexperience nor the ambitions of 19 other gifted and unpredictable thoroughbreds could keep yet another favorite from winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby. His eye was fine five days later, according to Casse. Do that today, and you're a PETA poster boy.

Royal Mo most recently finished third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Frank Stronach owns the Preakness, or at least his company does.

Next race: the Preakness at Baltimore Maryland May 20.

In 1997, the Stronach colt Touch Gold emerged as a 3-year-old of effect by winning the Lexington Stakes, a viable prep, but then stayed in the barn on Derby Day. Three weeks later, he ended Silver Charm's Triple Crown dreams in the Belmont Stakes. His great-grandsire Unbridled is remembered for winning the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic, but few remember that he crushed champion sprinter Housebuster by three lengths in the seven-furlong Deputy Minister Handicap in 1:21 4/5 and won a seven-furlong allowance race at Arlington Park by 6 1/2 lengths in 1:21 flat. Fusaichi Pegasus went on to win in Kentucky, while Orseno licked his chops. "He looked after me and I looked after him". "If he continues that way, I'll have no horse".

At Pimlico, Red Bullet and Jerry Bailey got the jump on Fusaichi Pegasus around the final turn and led him on a merry chase to the wire to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Always Dreaming skeptics may point to his great trip - it was flawless - but I tend to take the angle that good horses make their own luck, and trips in this case.

When they do, they're worth remembering. "Not too many people would have done that".

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