Recruiting Ready was a 10 ¼-length victor of his unveiling last May at Pimlico, stepping right into graded stakes company when second as the favorite to Classic Empire in the Bashford Manor (G3).
The Preakness, featuring 3-year-olds covering 1 3/16ths miles on a dirt track, is the second "jewel" in horse racing's Triple Crown.
"I think Conquest Mo Money will come from the outside and come down", Casse said.
In the Iroquois, Recruiting Ready wound up just a head behind runner-up Lookin At Lee, who went on to place in three Grade 1 stakes including an impressive second in the Kentucky Derby. Three Rules set the pace into upper stretch in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby (G1) April 1, tiring to finish fifth behind Derby victor Always Dreaming.
Track announcer Dave Rodman implored the crowd of owners, trainers, jockeys, media and hangers-on to be quiet during the draw.
"Lookin At Lee has always had a good rhythm to his training".
It's Preakness week, so Pimlico Race Course is adorned with fresh flowers, coated in bright paint and filled with the anticipation that comes with hosting the state's biggest sporting event of the year.
But Pletcher practically shrugged off the importance of the Preakness draw. I expected him to come out of the race as though he didn't exert himself and that's exactly what he did. When he was good, he would be somewhat aggressive to gallop. Always Dreaming is sitting at -110 (or 10/11), meaning you have to bet $110 to win $100.
"I imagine Classic Empire is going to keep a look at where we are" regardless of his post position.
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"There's 10 less to wipe you out", he quipped.
Post time for the Preakness Stakes is 5:45 p.m. CDT Saturday. "Hopefully we can continue to build some confidence and get some momentum with him".
"He ran good in the Fountain of Youth, and the Florida Derby was a great race", trainer Jose Pinchin said. A fourth-place finish at Belmont ended his pursuit of horse racing history.
Now healthy and charging through his workouts, Classic Empire appears poised for a bounce-back performance Saturday in the Preakness. If that doesn't happen, well, the Stronach Group, which owns the facility, has said it would consider moving the Preakness to nearby Laurel Park.
Classic Empire won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, when he was voted 2-year-old male champion.
"Hence didn't really run his race in the Derby. He's probably only ever run two bad races in his whole career, on the turf, anyway". Hes usually a very good horse coming away from the gate..
"We were just not happy with the turf at Churchill the other day in the Woodford, so we took him out with the idea of running him in here".
The Steve Asmussen-trained Lookin At Lee, who was rated as the 10-1 third choice for the Preakness, received a dream rail-skimming trip in the Derby, while his stablemate Hence (20-1) and Gunnevera (15-1) both encountered traffic. The son of Uncle Mo -who was not Triple Crown nominated-had enough qualifying points to get into the Kentucky Derby field, but his connections opted to bypass paying the supplemental fee and instead focus on the Woodlawn Vase.
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