February 20, 2024

Always Dreaming jogs as rain persists at Pimlico

Always Dreaming has been taking it easy in rainy Baltimore (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

Always Dreaming‘s planned gallop at Pimlico on Friday was canceled due to the sloppy track. Instead, the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner jogged two circuits of the one-mile oval.

“He was full of himself, feeling great,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I’m really happy where he is energy level-wise. We’ll just sit around and worry about the forecast and go from there.”

Rain is forecast through Saturday in Baltimore, with dryer and warmer weather expected Sunday and through the week leading up to the May 20 Preakness (G1).

Pletcher said he might allow Always Dreaming to gallop on Saturday even if the track remained sloppy.

“I’ll play it by ear. The main thing is that I don’t want him to get too fresh,” Pletcher said. “If the track is the same tomorrow as it was today, I’d probably opt to gallop. We’re flexible. We’ll inspect the track in the morning and do what we think is best for him.”

Royal Mo, who galloped over the Pimlico strip on Friday, is likely to have his final Preakness work, scheduled for Saturday, postponed.

“I was planning on working him on Saturday, but I think I’ll put it off another day or two,” trainer John Shirreffs said. “Being an Uncle Mo, he gets over wet surfaces OK. He got over it really well this morning and galloped a little over a mile today and handled it.”

Classic Empire, fourth in the derby, galloped Friday morning at Churchill Downs

“He felt great,” exercise rider Martin Rivera said. “As soon as I turned him around (after jogging to the front side), he was dragging me, on the muscle this morning. He came back really good after the race. I loved the way he went this morning. He’s come back more aggressive, actually.”

Assistant trainer Norman Casse is thrilled Classic Empire is back to his established routine after various setbacks leading up to the Derby.

“He really loves what he’s doing right now,” Casse said. “I’m really happy just the fact that he’s finally in a routine, he’s finally under a regular pattern where he’s running and isn’t missing any training or that kind of thing. I think probably the most important thing coming out of that race is how well he’s doing, that I think he’s going to run a really good race in Baltimore.”

Lookin at Lee and Hence also galloped at Churchill for trainer Steve Asmussen, with assistant Scott Blasi overseeing their exercise.

“We just don’t feel like he ever leveled out in the Derby, that he didn’t put that much effort into it,” Blasi said of Hence. “It didn’t seem like he handled the track and all the kickback with the 20 head. He came out of his race with good energy. The thinking is to run him back in the Preakness just for the lack of effort that he put forward in the Derby.

“He seems very energetic and very fresh. He’s beaten some nice horses. We didn’t think the Derby was a good indication of who he was. Hopefully we catch a fast track and he should give a better account of himself. The talent is there.”

At Prairie Meadows, outside Des Moines, on Friday, Conquest Mo Money breezed four furlongs in :48.40. Runner-up to Hence in the Sunland Derby (G3), he will ship to Churchill Downs on Saturday before proceeding to Baltimore on Sunday.

Cloud Computing, third in the Wood Memorial (G2) last time, could work Saturday at Belmont Park depending on the weather.

“I’d like to work him tomorrow,” trainer Chad Brown said. “We’re going to prepare as if we will, and if I can get a clean strip of dirt, we will, but it’s all dependent on the weather. He came out of the Wood Memorial great and has been galloping good so far following the race.”

Illinois Derby (G3) winner Multiplier is scheduled to breeze at Keeneland on Sunday, while Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee will breeze at Churchill on Monday.