Preakness offers encouraging news for Always Dreaming

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Recent history suggests Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming has a good shot at winning the Preakness on Saturday.

Always Dreaming will attempt to be the fourth Kentucky Derby winner in the last six years to finish first in the Preakness. In fact, seven of the last 15 Kentucky Derby victors also went on to win the second leg of the Triple Crown two weeks later.

Here’s a rundown at how the last 15 Kentucky Derby winners fared in the Preakness. Their Preakness finish is in parentheses.

2002: War Emblem (1st)

Notes: War Emblem posted a three-quarter length victory over Magic Weisner. War Emblem went on to finish eighth in the Belmont Stakes, which was won by Sarava.

2003: Funny Cide (1st)

Notes: Funny Cide won the Preakness by 9 } lengths over Midway Road. Funny Cide finished third in the Belmont Stakes and was five lengths behind Empire Maker, which hadn’t run in the Preakness.

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2004: Smarty Jones (1st)

Notes: Smarty Jones won the Preakness by a record 11 + lengths over second-place Rock Hard Ten. Smarty Jones also led the Belmont Stakes for much of the way before getting passed late in the race and losing by a length to Birdstone.

2005: Giacomo (3rd)

Notes: Giacomo was a surprise winner of the Kentucky Derby while overcoming 50-1 odds. Giacomo got stuck with an outside post in the Preakness and finished 9 } lengths behind the favored Afleet Alex.

2006: Barbaro (Injured)

Notes: Barbaro broke down at the start of the Preakness and had a fracture above and below his right rear ankle. Barbaro was euthanized several months later due to complications from that injury. The 2006 Preakness winner was Bernardini.

2007: Street Sense (2nd)

Notes: Street Sense led the Preakness during the stretch run and appeared on the way to victory before Curlin pulled ahead on the final stride.

2008: Big Brown (1st)

Notes: Big Brown rolled to victory by 5 \ lengths over Macho Again in the Preakness before finishing last out of the nine entrants in the Belmont Stakes.

2009: Mine That Bird (2nd)

Notes: After winning the Kentucky Derby as a 50-1 long shot, Mine That Bird finished a length behind Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness. Rachel Alexandra became the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years. Calvin Borel was the jockey for Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby and Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.

2010: Super Saver (8th)

Notes: Super Saver headed into the Preakness as the favorite but faded and finished eighth out of 12 entrants. Lookin At Lucky won the Preakness.

2011: Animal Kingdom (2nd)

Notes: Animal Kingdom made a late charge but finished just behind Shackleford in the Preakness.

2012: I’ll Have Another (1st)

Notes: Just as he had done in the Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another came from behind to edge Bodemeister in the Preakness. The margins of victory were 1 + lengths in the Derby and a neck in the Preakness. I’ll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont Stakes because of a swollen tendon.

2013: Orb (4th)

Notes: Orb started on the rail and was never in contention at the Preakness, which was won by Oxbow.

2014: California Chrome (1st)

Notes: California Chrome held off a late threat from Ride On Curlin to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. California Chrome tied for fourth place in the Belmont Stakes, which was won by Tonalist.

2015: American Pharaoh (1st)

Notes: American Pharaoh won by seven lengths in the Preakness and then went on to finish first in the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

2016: Nyquist (3rd)

Notes: Exaggerator surged down the stretch to win the Preakness by 3 + lengths. Nyquist finished third, just behind Cherry Wine.

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.