Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming has surprised his trainer Todd Pletcher with how well he has bounced back from his victory in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
The colt will run as favourite in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore on Saturday (Sunday AEST).
Always Dreaming is the first Derby horse Pletcher has run in the Preakness since Super Saver in 2010. That colt earned Pletcher his first Derby victory before finishing eighth in the Preakness.
Never one to ignore lessons learned, Pletcher is using his experience with Super Saver to guide Always Dreaming’s preparation.
“The tank seems full and he seems eager to go,” Pletcher said.
“The two weeks is a quick turnaround, and sometimes you don’t know until they get in the stretch and you see what you have in reserve.
“We’re just trying to keep it as simple as possible. We’re not over-thinking it. We’re just letting the horse gallop and be happy.”
Pletcher sent Always Dreaming to Pimlico three days after the Derby, wanting to give the colt, known for some aggressive behaviour in the mornings, a chance to get used to his new surroundings well before race day.
It was quiet around Pimlico last week, when Always Dreaming practised standing in the starting gate and visiting the paddock area where he will be saddled indoors.
“I like the way he’s behaving around the barn,” Pletcher said. “He’s quiet in the stall. When he gets on the track, he’s strong but in a good way. We don’t want to see him get too excited and step on himself.”
Always Dreaming will have nine rivals in the race, including four who ran in the Derby.
If the colt is showing an eagerness to compete again, so is Pletcher.
“I just want the race to get here,” he said. “He’s doing so good.”