Chances Kentucky Derby Winner Always Dreaming Has At Preakness
Dissecting Always Dreaming’s Preakness chances
The early Preakness Stakes odds are brough to you by Bovada.
In four races so far in 2017, Always Dreaming has four wins, all by open lengths. In the first of these two, he faced weaker fields. He then won the (G1) Florida Derby by five lengths ahead of two other Derby contenders in State of Honor and Gunnevera, and followed by his victory against some of the top three-year-olds around in the Kentucky Derby.
In all of these wins, Always Dreaming employed the same running style, never more than a couple lengths off the lead, and in three of the four races he was in the lead 3/4 of a mile into the race, before kicking into a higher gear and going on to win.
Here’s a look at some of the factors that led to his Derby win and why or why not they may impact on whether he can win the Preakness Stakes.
Kentucky Derby Start
While not a horse with exceptional speed breaking from the gate, Always Dreaming is fast enough to get a good position early, as his last four races have shown.
The concern in the Derby was that breaking from the #5 post, he could get shuffled back in the cavalry charge to the first turn. He had Thunder Snow, , another speed horse, inside of him as well as Fast and Accurate, whose trainer had made clear they were gunning for the lead out of the gate. Directly outside of him was State of Honor, who was expected to be on the lead coming out of the turn.
While State of Honor did in fact get the early lead, Always Dreaminng caught a big break when Thunder Snow came out of the gate and – for some unknown reason – basically refused to race. Fast and Accurate broke well, but proved just not fast enough to get in front of Always Dreaming. From the first turn, he was exactly where he wanted to be, in second place just behind State of Honor, avoiding all the mud and traffic the horses behind had to deal with.
Although the post position will be a factor, in the Preakness expect Always Dreaming to get a good break and good early position once again.
Kentucky Derby Backstretch
One of the distinguishing features of the 2017 Derby is how little the running order of the field changed as they raced up the backstretch. Of the 10 horses in front after the first half-mile, nine of them were still in the top flight after 3/4 of a mile, and none had moved more than one spot up or down. This indicates there was very little pressure on Always Dreaming coming from the back of the field so he was able to cruise along up front.
By the time they reached the one-mile marker, the the 1st, 4th, 3rd and 5th place horses at 3/4 of a mile were now running 1, 2, 3, and 4, and only two horses, Classic Empire (from 12th to 8th) and Practical Joke (from 8th to 5th), were making any kind of significant move forward.
With a Preakness field half the size of the Derby, jockeys will be better able to execute a race strategy without having to deal with so much traffic, so expect at least one or two to put more mid-race pressure on Always Dreaming than he faced in the Derby.
Kentucky Derby Home Stretch
Coming off the turn, State of Honor had given up, and Always Dreaming was in front. Co-favorite Irish War Cry had also had a very good trip and loomed large right on his outside shoulder, the perfect position to strike.
But then Irish War Cry simply failed to fire and dropped off quickly, eventually finishing 10th.
At that point, the only real challenge could have come from pre-race favorite Classic Empire, who swept around the turn and set down to make a charge.
But after a very bad break, having to come from way back in the pack and go five-wide into the straight, where he was bumped again, there was just too much for him to make up and Always Dreaming cruised to the wire.
If there is a place where the others hope to beat Always Dreaming, this is where it will most likely be. Some other horse is going to have to be in front when they make the turn for home and force Always Dreaming to get by him in the stretch run, something he hasn’t had, or been able, to do in his previous races.
If he’s on an open-lengths lead when they turn for home, Always Dreaming will be very difficult to catch.
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