It appears that after years of holding on to the Preakness by its fingernails, Pimlico won't host the second leg of the Triple Crown again. The comfy, low key, but relentless efforts to make it a special stay left a lasting mark on the long-time trainer. On Monday he ate at a place where a former Miss Preakness is a waitress.
"That is not what you get into this for", he said.
Always Dreaming will try to become the 36 horse to win the Preakness after winning the Kentucky Derby.
Casse likes the neighboring posts.
But the odds are against Always Dreaming.
Always Dreaming had had a quiet week at Pimlico, arriving in Baltimore three days after his May 6 Kentucky Derby victory. He's enjoyed four in a row with John Velazquez, a brilliant position rider. He's a very impressive individual and still training very well.
"Always Dreaming will be right there, but if we break running, we can be there, too", Casse said. "He's a great mover and a great galloper, and he's so efficient". The distance is a sixteenth of a mile less than the Derby's mile-and-a-quarter.
So, when Always Dreaming lined up for the Florida Derby on April 1, he had exactly zero points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby.
Closers like Gunnevera and Hence were clearly impacted by early Derby problems and should run much better in a smaller field. Always Dreaming has been at Pimlico since last Tuesday and there will be no workouts, just long, strong gallops to hone the colt's fitness.
"The tank seems full", trainer Todd Pletcher said.
"I think he's getting better all the time", the trainer said. "But we have to take it one day at a time, one race at a time".
If you want to challenge the favorite - and who needs a $3.60 win payoff?
After being bumped and jostled early at Churchill Downs, Classic Empire finished a disappointing fourth.
The odds say Classic Empire is second best, just like they did at the Derby. We've seen him in four starts this year, he's won by a combined, I don't know, what is it, 23, 24 lengths? Despite the hardship, Classic Empire and jockey Julien Leparoux managed to pick up fourth, beaten eight lengths by Always Dreaming.
Always Dreaming faces different challenges in the Preakness. The newcomers are Cloud Computing (12-1), Conquest Mo Money (15-1), Multiplier (30-1), Senior Investment (30-1) and Term of Art (30-1). His sire, Lookin at Lucky, won the 2010 Preakness but he is unlikely to get his first stakes win on Saturday. The Derby is a colossal eruption of athleticism and sound, the one day on the racing calendar when 20 horses jostle for position into the first turn like power forwards scrambling to rebound that last shot.
"Sentient Jet has established a distinguished reputation in the horse racing community for being an enthusiastic champion of the sport, and we are honored to have their loyal support for the duration of Lookin at Lee's career", said L and N Racing's Michael Levinson.
Regardless of the Preakness outcome, Conquest Mo Money is already a victor for New Mexico-based owner Tom McKenna, 81, who paid only $8,500 for the colt last November at the dispersal sale of Conquest Stable horses.