February 22, 2024

Always Dreaming lets off some steam; Lookin at Lee, Hence work for Preakness

Always Dreaming was rambunctious at the start of his Monday morning exercise at Old Hilltop (Jim McCue/MJC)

To the brief chagrin of trainer Todd Pletcher, Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming released some pent-up energy soon after stepping out onto the track at Pimlico for a 1 1/2-mile gallop Monday morning ahead of Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness (G1).

“He actually scared me a little bit because he was feeling so good when he went off,” Pletcher said. “The first couple of strides he went to try to buck (exercise rider) Nick (Bush) off and kind of stumbled a little bit when he did it. But he got right back on his feet and after that it was a very smooth, energetic, good gallop. Obviously, you don’t want any stumbles at this stage of the game, so it gave me a little bit of a fright.

“What we’re seeing out there gives us the same feel we were getting at Churchill. He’s on it. He’s feeling good. He’s high-energy. Eating great. All of those things.”

Pletcher said he will start taking Always Dreaming to the track a half-hour earlier than usual, at 5:30 a.m. (EDT), beginning Tuesday. The Derby winner will school in Pimlico’s indoor paddock on Tuesday and will be saddled there as well rather than on the turf course prior to the Preakness on Saturday.

Juvenile champion Classic Empire, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, arrived at Pimlico in the early hours of Monday morning along with other Mark Casse-trained runners for this weekend’s upcoming stakes.

“They arrived early this morning and they’ve all settled in well,” Norman Casse, son and chief assistant to trainer Mark Casse said.

Norm Casse said Classic Empire would have a routine gallop over the main track at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee and Hence each worked a half-mile at Churchill Downs on Monday ahead of the Preakness. Lookin at Lee went in :51.20 with splits of :13 and :25.80 before galloping out in 1:04.80. Hence, 11th in the Derby, breezed in :51 through splits of :13 and :25.80 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:05.

“Lookin At Lee has always had a good rhythm to his training,” Asmussen said. “This is a typical breeze for him. His personality and gamesmanship gave us a lot of confidence in him going into the Derby. We have no control of how the other horses run but we always feel like he does his best.

“I didn’t think Hence ran his race at all in the Derby,” Asmussen said. “Watching in the grandstand the first time by, he just was kind of jumping up and down. I believe it was from all the kickback from the off racetrack. We expected him to come out of it like he hadn’t exerted himself, and I think that’s what he’s shown. He’s a very impressive individual and he’s still training very well.”

Both horses are scheduled to arrive in Baltimore via plane Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Gunnevera jogged two miles over the Pimlico main track Monday, his first exposure to the main track since arriving on Saturday.

“He jogged very good today,” exercise rider Victor O’Farrell said. “I think he’s better now than before the Derby.”

In other Preakness news:

Conquest Mo Money, who arrived at Pimlico Sunday, walked the shedrow Monday morning and is scheduled to go to the track Tuesday.

Cloud Computing is expected to arrive at Pimlico mid-afternoon Tuesday following a van ride from his Belmont Park base.

“He acts like he will [take a step forward],” trainer Chad Brown said. “He’s a lightly raced horse and that is why we skipped the Derby. We thought he needed a little bit more time. He’s come along fast. We always thought he had a lot of talent. He needs to get to that mile-and-three-sixteenths distance, which I’m confident he can. I think the six weeks [since the Wood Memorial (G2)] between races will play into his favor.”

Both Illinois Derby (G3) winner Multiplier and Lexington (G3) winner Senior Investment came out of their respective Sunday workouts at Keeneland in good shape and both will ship to Pimlico on Tuesday.

Term of Art jogged at Santa Anita Monday morning and flies to Baltimore on Tuesday. He will race with blinkers on for the first time this season in the Preakness.

“He’s won both of his races with blinkers and I think the return of blinkers moves him up a lot,” trainer Doug O’Neill said.