By Beth Harris
AP Racing Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — Always Dreaming has run away from the competition in four consecutive victories this year, winning by a combined 23 ¼ lengths.
The dark bay colt was never challenged in winning the Kentucky Derby by 2 ¾ lengths on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.
Whether he does it again in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday depends on a good trip, the tactics by his nine rivals and a little luck. Always Dreaming is the early 4-5 favorite under jockey John Velazquez.
“Always Dreaming hasn’t had many obstacles to face,” said Corey Lanerie, who will ride Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee. “Maybe he’s that good that he won’t encounter trouble. But you never know.”
After three consecutive days of 90-plus-degree heat, the forecast calls for a high of 68 and cloudy skies Saturday when the race goes off about 6:48 p.m. EDT.
Always Dreaming is a victory away from setting up a bid for the Triple Crown. Two years ago, American Pharoah became the first horse to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 37 years.
“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,” trainer Todd Pletcher said, “but I do feel very, very good about the way he’s coming into it.”
In the Preakness, Always Dreaming will break from the No. 4 post, a spot that has produced 13 winners but none since Curlin in 2007. One spot over on his outside will be Classic Empire, last year’s 2-year-old champion who finished fourth in the Derby after getting knocked around coming out of the starting gate.
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