Todd Pletcher takes sure and steady approach to Preakness

Todd Pletcher takes sure and steady approach to Preakness

There is no one who really believes a major upset is possible.

According to America's Best Racing, seven of the 16 Kentucky Derby winners since 2000 have gone on to win the Preakness Stakes.

Pletcher works his colt at 5:30 every morning, when the track is relatively quiet. Pedigree wise, his sire The Factor is known for his sprinting talent, but this colt looks to have stamina on the grandam side, so I feel pretty confident in saying distance will likely not be an issue. Then he conducts TV interviews and retreats to his office.

The good news for Saturday's Preakness Stakes in Baltimore is there is no forecast for rain. Pletcher's first Derby champion, Super Saver in 2010, ran eighth after not showing the energy he had at Churchill Downs. He regrouped and raced well back early, a dozen lengths behind Always Dreaming.

This will be the first appearance in a Triple Crown race for the owner, the jockey and trainer Miguel Hernandez. He did have a nice rebounding effort after the disappointing seventh in the Southwest Stakes, coming back to win the Sunland Derby a little over a month later. It's something I'd love to win. But he likes where he's sitting, and knows that when you're dealing with 3-year-old horses, there's so much you don't know.

I hated Super Saver that day because I thought he was fortunate to get a sloppy track in the Derby and another fantastic rail ride from Calvin Borel.

"We're running him because we think he's the best horse", said trainer Mark Casse, noting the eye injury is now healed.

Philosophical differences aside, Pletcher and Dogwood have enjoyed considerable success over a period of nearly two decades. "Tank seems full. He seems eager to go".

Nick Bush was added as the new exercise rider because he was stronger than his predecessor and had experience with draw reins. "And we sure didn't change our minds because of the results of the Derby". "Nick was able to do that". Pimlico still looks like a place Secretariat and Citation would recognize if they could attend Saturday's race.

"I don't think he's enjoying it as much as he should", Lukas said. "That's why he kind of stumbled". "We felt this was the right thing to do". He's on it. He's feeling good.

Yet, Always Dreaming won't yield ground.

Anthony and Mary Ellen Bonomo bought the colt for $350,000 at Keeneland's September sale in 2015.

At the end of the Saratoga meet, the Bonomos merged their stable with that of childhood friend Vincent Viola, owner of the NHL's Florida Panthers, and his wife, Teresa. "It's awesome. He just gets better and better". 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. "We consistently saw that all winter". After losing twice as a juvenile, the son of Bodemeister has now won four consecutive races, all this year. Always Dreaming will break from post posit.

And then there was the Kentucky Derby.

"He's had a lot of things thrown at him, and he continues to fight back". "Until they get in the heat of the battle, you don't know whether they've got that extra reserve".

Conditions should be better on Saturday and Classic Empire will be starting just outside of Always Dreaming in the fifth starting gate for the mile and 3/16ths race.

"Todd's horse has rated before, but I think he rated on the outside". Senior Investment has won four of his last five races with those steady improvements in his speed ratings, so at 30-1 he might be a show play. Some might call that consistent.

"(I'm doing it) partly because that's what we did the day before the Derby", Pletcher said with a chuckle. The Preakness has historically been favorable to front-running horses and speed, so he should warrant some consideration.