BALTIMORE (Maryland Jockey Club) —

Trainer Todd Pletcher followed form at Pimlico Race Course Friday and had Always Dreaming do exactly what he did the morning of May 5, the day before the colt won the Kentucky Derby, jog with the pony.


Why change? Always Dreaming won the Derby by 2 3/4 lengths and arrives at the 142nd Preakness on Saturday as the 4-5 morning-line favorite. He faces nine others in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown that is expected to be contested in ideal weather conditions.

“He had a good, strong gallop yesterday. We just wanted to go easy today,” Pletcher said. “It worked out really well. He was well-behaved, nice and quiet, and jogged around there enthusiastically. That’s it. He’ll just walk tomorrow morning and all of the preparations are done.

Pletcher said he was pleased with his decision to bring the sometimes overactive colt directly to quiet Pimlico from Churchill Downs three days after the Derby.

Always Dreaming will attempt to complete the Derby-Preakness double and move on to Belmont Park June 10 in position to try for a sweep of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. Neither Pletcher nor Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has won the Preakness.

The son of Bodemeister was transferred to Pletcher’s barn in early September and has won his four races in 2017. How good is he? Pletcher didn’t hesitate to give an answer to that question.

“I think he’s pretty special,” Pletcher said. “We’re going to find out more, but when you look at what he has done this year, winning his first couple of races by open lengths, winning the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby by the margins he did, it’s pretty exceptional. It’s pretty rare that you see that.”

After assessing Always Dreaming, who was 0-for-2 at the time, at Saratoga, Pletcher gave him a break from training and sent him to Jim Crupi’s Florida farm. When he returned in November, the colt was moving more to his liking and looking like a Triple Crown prospect.

“We got a very, very favorable impression of him from the very beginning when we first started breezing him,” Pletcher said. “We started laying out plans to hopefully get there. You’ve got to see him come along and continue to develop and continue to improve, but he impressed us every single time we did something with him this winter and spring. He just kept stepping up and getting better and better, but was so consistent. All of his works were really strong. We were pretty enthusiastic early on.”

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