Always Dreaming will dominate Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. To exit with any money using the heavy favorite, though, you’ll need to bet the triple. Even then, it’s a short payoff.
Take Multiplier for second and Classic Empire third behind Always Dreaming. Maybe it’s not a blockbuster windfall, but at least you’ll see a few Franklins folded inside your bankroll of Washingtons.
In the words of famed Sunday Silence trainer Charlie Whittingham minutes before the 1989 Preakness, “Go to the window” and bet a 4-1-5 triple.
Toss Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee, who will never replicate his last effort. Forget seventh-place Derby finisher Gunnevera, who is just a notch below this crowd. Dismiss notions Conquest Mo Money might steal the race as the only other early speedster.
Don’t overthink it – this is Always Dreaming’s race. If you like throwing money away on miracles, try Hence. He looks like a contender, but runs like a pretender. Still, if something weird happens in the race then Hence has a puncher’s chance. But brother, your church dues better be up to date for this miracle to occur.
Always Dreaming should lead nearly every step of the Preakness just like the Derby. The only competitor with proven early speed is Conquest Mo Money. Anyone else trying for the quick lead compromises their style.
Leaving the final turn as the 100,000-plus roar, Always Dreaming will be two lengths in front of Conquest Mo Money, who quickly drops back. Classic Empire will look strong on the inside, but Multiplier will be even more impressive on the outside.
Yet, Always Dreaming won’t yield ground. The race is 1/16th mile shorter than the Derby’s 1 1/4 miles and that’s not enough for rivals to run down Always Dreaming. Indeed, look for a 1 1/2-length victory over Multiplier, who’s a head better than Classic Empire.
Multiplier will rightfully try Always Dreaming in the Belmont Stakes on June 10 given his early promise. But, there will be no more excuses for Classic Empire, whose camp blamed a roughly-run Derby for his poor showing only to forget their colt started the exchange.
Could thoroughbred racing see a second sweep in three years after a 38-year drought? Well, there were three in seven years from 1971-78 following a 25-year gap.
Always Dreaming is not a super horse, but one whose front-running style works against a relatively modest class of three-year-olds. Always Dreaming is not Secretariat, or even American Pharoah of two years ago, but he doesn’t need to be so. Always Dreaming’s just better than his Preakness rivals for now.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.