Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby because he’s America’s most consistently fast 3-year-old, and it’s most consistently lucky.
Can he extend his run of good form and fortune in Saturday’s Preakness?
It’s no given a Derby winner has the edge in the Preakness. A horse may not be at his best only two weeks after giving a top effort. The races are run on different tracks, at different distances and often with a substantially different field of rivals. Tactics may favor one horse in the first leg of the Triple Crown and another horse in the second.
Take last year: In the Derby, Nyquist faced only one other solid front-runner, ran close to the early lead on a comfortable pace, took the lead on the turn for home and went on to win. In the Preakness, he had to contend with five other horses with front-running speed; forced to go faster early, he faded to third as mud-loving Exaggerator rallied from eighth to win.
Could something similar happen to this year’s Derby winner? Always Dreaming’s victory in Louisville did look a little like Nyquist’s. Taking advantage of a post position near the inside and other contenders’ early trouble, he fell into a perfect trip right behind a stamina-challenged pacesetter.
Bettors looking for an upset might love to think Always Dreaming won’t have it as easy in Baltimore. But he might.
Again drawn near the inside of a 10-horse field, he faces only one opponent with habitual early speed, namely Arkansas Derby runner-up Conquest Mo…
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