It seems to be in vogue now to say that juvenile champion Classic Empire’s trip in the Kentucky Derby was so awful that he now will turn the table on the winner Always Dreaming just as Lookin At Lucky did in 2010.
I dissent. Always Dreaming will win the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course and have a chance at a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park.
Race 13 | Grade I Preakness Stakes | 1 3/16 miles
1. Always Dreaming
2. Classic Empire
3. Conquest Mo Money
4. Lookin At Lee
Comment: To be sure, Classic Empire did have a bad trip and will improve. But simply to say that’s enough for him to turn the tables on the Derby winner misses Always Dreaming’s ability to avoid trouble. His biggest challenge on Derby Day was getting to the paddock and the starting gate in one piece (something I, sadly, predicted he wouldn’t). Once he did that, he ran much as he did in his impressive win in the Grade I Florida Derby, which was the best prep performance leading up to the Run for the Roses. With a better trip, Classic Empire is the major threat to Always Dreaming and wouldn’t be a shock to win even as I’m picking against. These two are in a class above the rest. Classic Empire’s win and Lookin At Lee’ third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby make that race look like the next best prep. Consequently, Conquest Mo Money, second in Arkansas, looms large among the second-tier horses. Lookin At Lee may not get the same dream trip as in the Derby, but still can factor.
Undercard stakes picks: here.