Always Dreaming ‘On The Engine’ During Thursday Morning Gallop

by | 05.18.2017 | 8:25am

After training Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming early Thursday morning, trainer Todd Pletcher told the crowd at the annual Alibi Breakfast that his colt is ready for Saturday's 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

“The horse is doing unbelievably well in the two-week turnaround,” Pletcher said. “The way he's moving, the way he's acting, the way he's getting over the track, we feel really blessed that he's coming into the race this way. I'm someone who has been in a lot of races and lost a lot of races, so I know you don't want to be overconfident, but I do feel very, very good about the way he's coming into it.”

Since Always Dreaming was aggressive and sometimes hard to handle during training prior to the Kentucky Derby, Pletcher opted to send the son of Bodemeister to Baltimore three days after the Derby to relax while being prepped for the Preakness.

“I think we got exactly what we hoped we would get when we got here, a good, quiet setting,” Pletcher said. “The horse was able to settle in very well and have a relatively peaceful first week. We anticipated that things would build up this week with other horses coming in, and more people coming in. I think that initial week to settle in was beneficial. At this point, he's just sitting on go and we're hoping to keep him that way for another 48 hours.”

Always Dreaming galloped about 1 ½ miles at 5:30 a.m. Thursday and Pletcher was satisfied with what he saw.

“I thought he had a very strong, enthusiastic, contained gallop,” Pletcher said. “He's giving us a great feel and shown us everything we're hoping for, leading back in two weeks. The tank seems full. He seems eager to go. We're just trying to keep him on the ground one more day.”

Always Dreaming drew Post 4 in the field of 10 and is the 4-5 morning-line favorite. Just to his outside in the starting gate will be Classic Empire, the 2016 2-year-old champion who finished fourth in the Derby despite being knocked around in a collision a few steps out of the gate.

“I think it's an ideal spot for Classic Empire,” Pletcher said. “If I were them, I would be happy with that post. I would imagine that they are going to target us and the target is right next to you. It probably gives him a little bit of a tactical advantage from that perspective. We're just focused on hopefully breaking cleanly and smoothly and letting him run to the first turn a little bit.

“I think Johnny (Velazquez) will get a sense of how much speed the other horses are showing,” he added. “On paper, Always Dreaming, Classic Empire and Conquest Mo Money (Post 10) are the horses that have consistently shown the most speed. As you know, gates open, things change. On paper that's where it seems like most of the pace will come from.”

  • johnnyknj

    Not to be picky, but the term “on the engine” traditionally means on the lead, as in a locomotive pulling a train, not full of energy or tough to handle. That would be “on the muscle”. Hate to see traditional racing terms (which are among the most colorful in our language) diluted and lost. In fact, an article memorializing old-time racing terms would be great to see in the PR.

    • slewcrew7778

      Not as bad as Gunnevera’s 3F galloping ‘Blow Out’ in 43.69

      • albert

        Bad enough to seek new occupation??????? This is just another big barn operations they show up in the morning like a produce company toss the bad replace with another create full expendable at investors cost nothing personal no passion or any science involved Pletcher claims he went to college in Arizona animal science that’s less than 6 month class that’s a Albert Einstein right or is 43 starts 2 wins a lucas play book

    • TheKeymaster

      I like your post Johnny, it brought back fond memories of growing up going to Arlington Park and watching one of the best front-end riders of all time in Earlie Fires.

      My dad would bet with both hands when he saw Earlie on a horse who seemed to have a tactical advantage on the front end. On so many occasions Earlie would beat the gate with his mount and have them settled and relaxed before they even hit the first pole. My day would cheer “Earlie on the engine!” and would supplement that with “tow them around there Earlie” and a even a “cho choo” when they would hit the wire in front.

      • Michael Shea

        Earlie Fires was such a mainstay at Arlington that I assumed they had constructed the track around him.

    • Michael Shea

      I still refuse to use the updated term “gate to wire”. The alliteration of “wire to wire” is all that is needed to keep the original.

  • Fallow1

    Andy Beyer tossing him. Years ago , he had no excuse, now he can claim onset of Alzheimers if it doesn’t work out.

  • McGov

    I’m sure that team Casse is very happy to draw just outside of Always Dreaming. Huge advantage there if they both break. However, CE has a habit of not breaking well and other gate problems. He may lose this tactical advantage very quickly.
    If the early fractions somehow are easy then this will be a horse race among only a few for the top two spots. No speed, no chance for closers. Closers will battle for third if the pace isn’t honest.
    Pletcher said it best earlier this week when he said you don’t really know what they have in tank after two week turnaround until they turn for home in the race. That is as honest as it gets.
    Great race to watch. Value in wheeling LaL for 2nd and 3rd and hoping for a bomb or two. That horse gets zero respect for some reason despite proving time and again that he belongs. He defines “overlay”.

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