He's a speed horse who was run down in the stretch by Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby.
Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming was the morning line favorite at 4-5, followed by Classic Empire at 3-1.
So how much attention the Belmont receives in 2017 largely depends on what Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming does in the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
The Preakness field, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, will have just half the horses that converged on Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. "Maybe he's that good that he won't encounter trouble".
The winning horse is also draped in a blanket resembling a carpet of yellow black-eyed Susan flowers, representing the state flower of Maryland.
Post time for the 142 Preakness Stakes is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. CST Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
American Pharoah in 2015 became the 12th Triple Crown victor to capture the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont since Affirmed in 1978 - a 37-year gap that was the longest in history.
"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". Many attribute his fourth-place showing in the Derby to being jostled at the start from the No. 15 post position.
Classic Empire looms as Always Dreaming's most serious challenger, on the basis of the 2016 2-year-old champion's thoroughly courageous fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, in which he was almost knocked off his feet while being slammed between horses at the start, fell to 13th in the 20-horse field and staged a very wide rally in the stretch over a wet track that favored horses racing close to the inside rail.
Always Dreaming and Classic Empire will see eye-to-eye at the start of the Preakness Stakes.
"He just kept stepping up, getting better and better, and was so consistent", Pletcher said.
"We're running him because we think he's the best horse and given the results of the Derby, we didn't change or mind", Casse said. He'll get a better trip in Baltimore and should be a solid price - around 3 to 1 - with most of the win money on Always Dreaming.
Lights of Medina, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Feargal Lynch, beat third-place finisher Corporate Queen by two lengths. The horse ran the 9.5 furlongs in 1:53.
I also believe the muddy track at Churchill Downs helped carry Always Dreaming. He knows Always Dreaming has a real chance to get to NY with a chance at the Triple Crown.
Both Pletcher and Casse have said this week that they expect Conquest Mo Money to end up setting the pace.
"That was our goal, to get a horse that one day got us to the Derby", Ms. McKenna said.
It turns out that picking the victor of the Kentucky Derby wasn't so hard: just take the betting favorite and the horse that had the fastest time in a 11/8-mile prep race.
There's a posse of contenders that would love to extend that history.
Conquest Mo Money, at 15-1, also skipped the Derby.
Always Dreaming is in top form, with the tactical speed to work out flawless trips. OK, Javier Castellano switched to Cloud Computing from Gunnevera, which can't hurt, but it's not enough for a horse that has only won a sprint.
Lookin At Lee is a closer who could come running late under Lanerie. "You try and take some of those principles away". Gunnevera finished seventh at Churchill Downs, and that was the worst performance of his career.
The owner of Pimlico Race Course said earlier this week that the 147-year-old track likely would have to be rebuilt - at a cost of $300 million to $500 million - to keep the race there rather than move it to a track in Laurel, Md. Classic Empire is a serious racehorse.