Todd Pletcher takes sure and steady approach to Preakness


But Always Dreaming is the best 3-year-old in the country, unbeaten this year, the Derby victor, live for the Preakness, a win away from a shot at the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line.

Few people watched that race more closely than Erin Birkenhauer. The year 2007 was unique, however, because I picked Street Sense to win the Kentucky Derby, which he did, but then I chose Curlin to win the Preakness, which he did.

Hence never really showed me much, but the beat pundits loved him at the Derby. One other factor in this school of thought is that the Kentucky Derby victor is often overrated and definitely over-bet in the Preakness. If Always Dreaming gets off to a good start, as usual, from post 4, Velazquez can choose between setting the pace and stalking.

Always Dreaming hasn’t received a serious challenge while winning all four of his races in 2017 by a combined 231⁄4 lengths, raising the burning question: Is this year’s Kentucky Derby victor special enough to win today’s Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in three weeks? So Pletcher is here with Always Dreaming and hes enjoying himself in his customarily restrained way. Part of my “bold” betting strategy revolved around betting against the eventual victor, Always Dreaming. If we can’t win, I want Always Dreaming to win because this sport is so important to me.

If Always Dreaming wins again, the horse could complete the treble at next month’s Belmont Stakes. That’s not to say I don’t want you to read on for my picks, but let’s face it, this is not the most highly-anticipated race in the history of the Sport of Kings!

Trainer Steve Asmussen could send Sunland Park Derby victor Hence (11th in Kentucky) out to battle for the lead, which might be his best chance.

He drew the outside post in a field of 10 as a 15-1 shot in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

According to the Triple Crown’s official website, the $1.5 million purse is split five ways, with 60 percent going to the victor, 20 percent to second place, 11 percent to third place, six percent to fourth place and three percent to fifth. One spot over on his outside will be Classic Empire, last year’s 2-year-old champion who finished fourth in the Derby after getting knocked around coming out of the gate. A clean ride in Baltimore and Pimlico could be conquered by Classic Empire.

At Churchill Downs, Always Dreaming glided down the stretch ahead of the pack, barely a speck of mud on him.

Well, maybe, but at 4-5 and 2-1, respectively, that’s awful value. If a horse paid $10, we thought we were rich.

As the Preakness odds quickly get longer after Always Dreaming and Classic Empire, Saturday’s Superfecta could produce a similar number.

Despite overseeing a stable that runs in races nationwide, Pletcher is single-minded in his approach with each horse in his barn.

Classic Empire’s trainer, Mark Casse, is expecting an interesting race. He could be a factor late in the Preakness when he comes from behind.

Gunnevera and Conquest Mo Money are two horses that have a chance for a top three finish.

At 15-1 Conquest Mo Money is too good to pass up, though he will certainly be bet down. “He came out good, he’s back here at Santa Anita and we’re looking to run him maybe in the Affirmed (Stakes on June 24)”.

We can’t pass Conqust Mo Money up – even at the cost of no Triple Crown this year amid an unexciting class of horses.

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