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With Classic Empire's eye injury better, Casse plans to bring him to Pimlico

Trainer Mark Casse said Classic Empire's right eye is "100 percent better" and, while the barn will closely monitor any trauma to the eye, "we're going to start planning our trip to Pimlico" for the May 20 Preakness.

Classic Empire, last year's 2-year-old champion who won the Arkansas Derby, had a troubled trip during his Kentucky Derby fourth-place finish Saturday that included bobbling at the start and then being "hammered off stride," as described in the official Equibase chart footnotes.

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On Sunday, Classic Empire could hardly open his eye.

"I don't know when that occurred, whether with all the bumping. ... But it already looks better today. I'd say we're 90 percent to go."

Meanwhile, trainer Steve Asmussen said he is "expecting to go" to the Preakness with Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee, as well as terming Derby 11th-place finisher Hence as a "probable" candidate.

Lookin At Lee closed from far back with a rail rally to finish five lengths ahead of third-place finisher Battle of Midway.

Hence was never a factor after a troubled start and subsequent traffic in the Derby.

"He came out of the race really well. He didn't run hard enough to be tired, I know that," Asmussen said of the Derby and its two-week spacing with the Preakness.

Trainer Antonio Sano called it "50-50" that Peacock Racing Stables' Derby seventh-place finisher Gunnevera will run in the Preakness.

Trainer Brendan Walsh termed American Equistock's Multiplier "a strong possibility" for the Preakness.

Two days after winning his second career Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher said he is impressed with how Always Dreaming came out of his 23/4-length victory.

"His energy level is great," Pletcher said. " He walked the shedrow with a purpose this morning, ate all his dinner last night. Really, really pleased with the way he's come out of it so far."

Always Dreaming will leave Churchill Downs between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday for a short van ride to Louisville International Airport for a Tex Sutton Forwarding Company equine flight to Baltimore. The flight is expected to land at BWI Marshall at 9:30 a.m. The son of Bodemeister is expected to arrive at Pimlico in late morning. Pletcher is scheduled to arrive Wednesday.

After speaking with owner Oussama Aboughazale on Monday morning, Pletcher officially ruled out a Preakness run for Malagacy, winner of Oaklawn Park's Rebel.

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