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The 2017 Preakness Stakes posts are set following Wednesday’s draw, with Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming starting out of the fourth gate.
In an interesting turn of events, Classic Empire drew the No. 5 post, setting up an intriguing head-to-head battle between himself and Always Dreaming.
|2017 Preakness Stakes Post Positions|
|1||Multiplier||Joel Rosario||Brendan Walsh|
|2||Cloud Computing||Javier Castellano||Chad Brown|
|3||Hence||Florent Geroux||Steve Asmussen|
|4||Always Dreaming||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|5||Classic Empire||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse|
|6||Gunnevera||Mike Smith||Antonio Sano|
|7||Term of Art||Jose Ortiz||Doug O’Neill|
|8||Senior Investment||Channing Hill||Ken McPeek|
|9||Lookin at Lee||Corey Lanerie||Steve Asmussen|
|10||Conquest Mo Money||Jorge Carreno||Miguel Hernandez|
|Source: Preakness Stakes|
While the Preakness is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races, post position carries far less importance at Pimlico Race Course than it does at Churchill Downs, where a post too far to the inside or outside can spell doom at the Kentucky Derby.
A smaller field makes it much easier to move around the track for positioning.
Below are the last 10 winners and their respective post positions:
|2010||Lookin At Lucky||7|
|2012||I’ll Have Another||9|
|Source: Preakness Stakes|
The quick turnaround time between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes is always a concern for jockeys and trainers. It’s one of the biggest reasons some trainers skip the Preakness altogether and focus instead on the Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is pleased with where Always Dreaming stands heading into Saturday.
“This whole two weeks in between the Derby and the Preakness is all about just refueling and keeping him healthy and happy,” Pletcher said, per USA Today‘s Chris Korman. “Right now he looks like he’s very, very happy.”
Always Dreaming has already tasted success in a race with a similar distance to that of the Preakness Stakes. At the Florida Derby in April, he surged ahead down the finish stretch to prevail in comfortable fashion:
Classic Empire is the favored horse to derail Always Dreaming’s Triple Crown hopes, boasting 4-1 odds on OddsShark. Jockey Julien Leparoux and trainer Mark Casse would likely love nothing more than to beat Always Dreaming after their somewhat disappointing result at the Kentucky Derby.
Classic Empire placed fourth in the slop at Churchill Downs, his worst finish in a graded-stakes race—excluding the Hopeful Stakes in which he dropped jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. He has more than proved himself in shorter events, winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Breeders’ Futurity Stakes.
Gunnevera, Hence and Lookin at Lee are all worthy challengers to Always Dreaming as well, while horses who skipped the Kentucky Derby won’t have to deal with the stamina issues those who ran at Churchill Downs encountered.
Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money and Multiplier are all big underdogs. But neither Cloud Computing nor Conquest Mo Money has competed in a month. Multiplier’s last race was the Illinois Derby April 22.
Based on his previous record and Kentucky Derby performance, Always Dreaming is rightfully considered the horse to beat Saturday. But it wouldn’t take much for things to go wrong in his quest to become the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown.