Randy Brungard: A look ahead at the 142nd Preakness Stakes

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is washed after a workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Thursday, May 18, 2017. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place May 20. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Two weeks ago, Always Dreaming came out of a twenty-horse field to win the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, KY. This weekend, he will seek to win the Preakness in Baltimore, MD and add another Grade One (G1-the highest level of racing) to his resume.

The Preakness is considered the second prong of the elusive Triple Crown, with the final prong occurring three weeks later on Long Island in the Belmont Stakes. All three of the Triple Crown races are G1’s and restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds.

Only ten horses will compete in this year’s Preakness Stakes, even though a maximum of 14 is permitted. Five of those ten ran in the Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming finished first; Looking At Lee closed for second with a great rail ride; Classic Empire overcame a horrible trip, including being temporarily blinded in the right eye from all the mud kicked back in his face, to grab 4th; Gunnevera had traffic trouble trying to close from far back and finally was able to get up for 7th; and Hence struggled with the mud and 20-horse field, ending up 11th.

The new shooters include: Interesting 30-1 longshot Multiplier, who breaks from post No. 1 and has won his last two starts in respectable times at 1 1/8th miles, including the G3 Illinois Derby; early-speed horse Conquest Mo Money, who will likely try to establish a forward position while breaking from the far outside post No. 10; recent G3 winners Term Of Art and Senior Investment; and 2x G3 placed (means he finished either 2nd or 3rd) Cloud Computing.

NBCSN will begin television coverage this Saturday at 2 p.m. and NBC will take over at 5 p.m. The 1 3/16th mile Preakness, which is 1/16th of a mile shorter (110 yards) than the KY Derby’s 1 1/4 mile distance, goes to post at 6:48 p.m.

The two likely favorites, Always Dreaming and Classic Empire, will break from posts No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. Both will likely try to establish a forward position early, so a good break from the gate will be key. With the other speed horse, Conquest Mo Money, coming out of the No. 10, jockey John Velazquez, who will once again pilot the Derby winner, needs to keep his mount from getting trapped along the rail by the horses to his outside. Classic Empire has good tactical speed, so his jockey, Julian Leparoux, should get a much more favorable trip with only ten horses in the Preakness field.

Gunnevera will likely fall back and make a late charge from near the back, and a similar scenario could play out for Hence. On to Baltimore!