WASHINGTON: Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will get a head start on preparations for the second leg of US racing’s Triple Crown when he arrives at Pimlico on Tuesday ahead of the May 20 Preakness.
The move by trainer Todd Pletcher means Always Dreaming will have almost two weeks to adjust to the Pimlico track in Baltimore, something that Pletcher hopes will alleviate the aggression the colt showed in training prior to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
“I think Pimlico, there aren’t usually a lot of horses training there and it’ll be a quiet environment,” Pletcher said. “It’ll give us time to settle in and if we need to make any adjustments.”
Pletcher was pleased at the prosect of installing Always Dreaming in stall 40 at Pimlico, traditionally reserved for the Derby winner.
“I think we want to follow the tradition,” he said.
Pletcher has never won the Preakness in eight prior attempts. He has sometimes skipped the race to rest his horses for the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes in New York.
His prior Derby winner, Super Saver, finished eighth in the Preakness in 2010.
Only 12 horses have swept the coveted treble, the most recent American Pharoah in 2015. His feat ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought.
Pletcher said Always Dreaming came out of his convincing Derby win, on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs on Saturday, healthy.
Just who he might face in the Preakness remains uncertain. Long-shot Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee is “definitely a possibility” for the Preakness, trainer Steve Asmussen said.
Classic Empire, the early favorite who finished fourth, had a swollen right eye on Sunday but if that condition is resolved, trainer Mark Casse said the Preakness might well be in his sights.