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Preakness: Who will challenge Always Dreaming?

Todd Pletcher: Always Dreaming looks super

On Sunday morning, trainer Todd Pletcher reported that Always Dreaming was doing well after winning the Kentucky Derby and would go to Baltimore for the Preakness early this week.
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On Sunday morning, trainer Todd Pletcher reported that Always Dreaming was doing well after winning the Kentucky Derby and would go to Baltimore for the Preakness early this week.

Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning that Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming exited the race in good order and will leave Churchill Downs on Monday or Tuesday for the Preakness Stakes on May 20 in Baltimore.

Who will show up to challenge the son of Bodemeister was uncertain, however.

Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee will probably continue on to Baltimore, although trainer Steve Asmussen told Churchill Downs that a decision had not been made.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to anybody to make any decisions on what’s next for any of them,” said Asmussen, who also ran Hence (11th) and Untrapped (12th). “The Preakness is definitely a possibility for ‘Lee.’ But we’ll give this race the respect it deserves and wait and see how he does when he gets back to the track.”

Lookin At Lee was the first Kentucky Derby runner to hit the board from the No. 1 post position since Risen Star, who was third in 1988.

Trainer Kenny McPeek tweeted that Senior Investment is “fresh and ready” for the Preakness. He’ll work at Keeneland on Monday morning.

Royal Mo, who was 21st on the points list for the Kentucky Derby’s 20-horse field, worked 5 furlongs in 1:05 on Sunday and will ship to Baltimore Tuesday for the Preakness, trainer John Shirreffs said.

“Gary Stevens (who was scheduled to ride him in the Kentucky Derby) will ride him in the Preakness,” Shirreffs said.

Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley, also trained by Shirreffs, will ship back to California after his ninth-place finish. The connections for other Derby horses appeared unsure about the Preakness or have ruled out a trip to Baltimore altogether.

Irish War Cry, the second choice behind Always Dreaming in Saturday’s betting, will skip the Preakness after his 10th-place finish, trainer Graham Motion said.

“I don’t see a lot of reason to go on to the Preakness at this point,” Motion said. “He’s had a pretty good campaign this spring, so it’s likely we’ll skip that and make a plan to point for the Haskell.”

The Wood Memorial winner is owned by Isabelle de Tomaso, whose later father, Amory Haskell, is the namesake for the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

McCraken, one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby only to finish eighth, won’t run in the Preakness and is doubtful for the Belmont, trainer Ian Wilkes told Churchill Downs. “I didn’t want to risk the chance of infection,” Wilkes said.

Third-place finisher Battle of Midway is scheduled to fly back to California and is not likely to run in the Preakness.

Reigning juvenile champion Classic Empire, who finished fourth after a rough start, could continue to Baltimore, but assistant trainer Norm Casse said it was too early to make a definite plan.

“We’re just really proud of the way he ran,” said Casse, who assists his father, Mark. “We’ll wait a couple of days before deciding what we want to do.”

Trainer Chad Brown said fifth-place finisher Practical Joke will aim for shorter races in the future.

“I was proud of him. He was fighting and trying,” said Brown. “It just wasn’t the right race for him. We’ll probably take a step back now and let him catch his breath a bit, regroup, and shorten his races.”

The connections for seventh-place finisher Gunnevera, 13th-place finisher Girvin and 15th-place finisher J Boys Echo are undecided about the Preakness. Girvin’s trainer, Joe Sharp, said neither the Preakness nor the Belmont has been ruled out.

Sonneteer, who finished 16th, and Irap, who ran 18th, are doubtful for the Preakness. Fast and Accurate, who ran 17th, might return to turf racing, though trainer Mike Maker said he hadn’t spoken to owner Kendall Hansen.

As for Thunder Snow, who bucked after leaving the starting gate and was pulled up, Godolphin Racing released a statement late Saturday.

“Thunder Snow walked back to the stables where he was checked by the vets on course, and initial reports suggest that he appears to be sound. We will closely monitor him over the next 24 hours to ensure that he is OK. Our first priority is his welfare. He worked well all week and we were very happy with his progress. We want to thank everyone for their support this week. We gave it our best. The team was amazing but it just wasn’t to be. Congratulations to the winning horse and the connections of Always Dreaming.”

Those connections could possibly run another horse in the Preakness. Pletcher said he hadn’t ruled out running Malagacy. The Rebel Stakes winner, who ran fifth in the Arkansas Derby, didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby.

Pletcher said Tapwrit, who finished sixth Saturday, and Patch, who ran 14th, both came out of the race well and will be shipped to Belmont Park in New York.

According to Churchill Downs, Pletcher’s Master Plan, who just missed qualifying for the Derby, worked 4 furlongs in :48.20 at the track on Sunday and will be pointed toward Saturday’s Grade III Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont.

Preakness Stakes

When: Saturday, May 20

Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore

Last year’s winner: Exaggerator

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