• Preakness 2017 picks by Jason Frakes, CJ

    Preakness 2017 picks by Jason Frakes, CJ

  • Preakness 2017 picks by Tim Sullivan, CJ

    Preakness 2017 picks by Tim Sullivan, CJ

  • Preakness 2017 picks by Jennie Rees for the Maryland Jockey Club

    Preakness 2017 picks by Jennie Rees for the Maryland Jockey Club

  • Preakness 2017 picks by Chuck Culpepper, Washington Post

    Preakness 2017 picks by Chuck Culpepper, Washington Post

  • Preakness 2017 picks by Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated

    Preakness 2017 picks by Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated

  • Preakness 2017 picks by Alicia Hughes of BloodHorse

    Preakness 2017 picks by Alicia Hughes of BloodHorse

  • Preakness 2017 picks by John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times

    Preakness 2017 picks by John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times

  • Preakness 2017 picks by John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader

    Preakness 2017 picks by John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader

  • Preakness 2017 picks by Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun

    Preakness 2017 picks by Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun

  • Preakness 2017 picks by Kent Taylor, WAVE-TV

    Preakness 2017 picks by Kent Taylor, WAVE-TV

BALTIMORE – Many have tabbed Saturday’s Preakness Stakes as nothing more than a match race between Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and 2-year-old champion Classic Empire.

The media seems to agree.

In a poll of 12 media members in town to cover the Preakness, six picked Classic Empire to win and five selected Always Dreaming. Marty McGee of the Daily Racing Form was the lone dissenter, going with Hence.

More: Is this Preakness Stakes more than a Classic Empire-Always Dreaming duel?

More: Sullivan | Classic Empire seeks Preakness validation

More: Preakness Stakes 2017 | Odds, entries, post-position draw

More: Free past performances for Preakness Stakes 2017 contenders

Here’s a look at how they see the race:

JOHN CHERWA, LOS ANGELES TIMES

Winner: Classic Empire.

Others to watch: Conquest Mo Money, Always Dreaming.

Comment: There will not be a Triple Crown this year. Mark Casse has Classic Empire really sound, really fit. I think that’s going to make a big difference because he just wasn’t able to run his race over the slop at Churchill. Todd Pletcher doesn’t like to bring horses back after two weeks, and he’s only here because he won the Derby.

JOHN CLAY, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

Winner: Always Dreaming.

Others to watch: Classic Empire, Lookin At Lee, Senior Investment.

Comment: I think the Preakness seems to suit Always Dreaming’s style even better than the Derby.

CHUCK CULPEPPER, WASHINGTON POST

Winner: Always Dreaming.

Others to watch: Classic Empire, Gunnevera.

Comment: I like the freshness and the way one of the owners, Vincent Viola, was saying after the Derby that he’s unusually set up to win this.

JASON FRAKES, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Winner: Classic Empire.

Others to watch: Always Dreaming, Lookin At Lee, Conquest Mo Money.

Comment: With half the horses, there’s less chance Classic Empire encounters the trouble he faced in the Derby. Still believe he’s most talented 3-year-old racing right now, but he’s running out of time to prove it.

ALICIA HUGHES, BLOODHORSE.COM

Winner: Classic Empire.

Others to watch: Always Dreaming, Conquest Mo Money.

Comment: I think he’s going to rebound off that terrible trip he had in the Derby and show his old form here this weekend.

TIM LAYDEN, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Winner: Always Dreaming.

Others to watch: Classic Empire, Cloud Computing.

Comment: I’m taking the attitude that the best horse in the Derby is probably still the best horse two weeks later. He’s very impressive in the mornings.

MARTY MCGEE, DAILY RACING FORM

Winner: Hence.

Others to watch: Classic Empire, Gunnevera.

Comment: Hence and a number of other horses (in the Derby) over that sloppy track did not run their race. It could be way different than what happened two weeks ago. Hence, Classic Empire and Gunnevera were all compromised. (Always Dreaming) was not.

JENNIE REES, MARYLAND JOCKEY CLUB

Winner: Always Dreaming.

Others to watch: Classic Empire, Hence, Lookin At Lee.

Comment: I’ve become a believer in Always Dreaming. Watching him train here at the track, it’s just the power (that stands out). Having said that, we’ve come before with a lot of horses in this race that you didn’t think could get beat — like Fusaichi Pegasus (in 2000) — and they have.

JAMES SCULLY, BRISNET.COM

Winner: Always Dreaming.

Others to watch: Hence, Classic Empire.

Comment: I like Always Dreaming to receive a favorable trip on the front end like he did in the Kentucky Derby. I see very little pressure outside of Conquest Mo Money, and I think he’ll have enough left to prove best in the stretch.

TIM SULLIVAN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Winner: Classic Empire.

Others to watch: Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing, Gunnevera.

Comment: He had a terrible, bumpy start and ran 75 feet further than Always Dreaming in the Derby and lost by 8 ¾ lengths. I think the math is pretty compelling, and I still think this horse has a lot in him if he gets a good trip.

KENT TAYLOR, WAVE-TV

Winner: Classic Empire.

Others to watch: Always Dreaming, Multiplier.

Comment: He was still running down the stretch to finish fourth in the Derby. I think he’s going to pass Always Dreaming in the stretch this time.

CHILDS WALKER, BALTIMORE SUN

Winner: Classic Empire.

Others to watch: Always Dreaming, Lookin At Lee, Gunnevera.

Comment: I think he’s primed for a big race. Though I think Always Dreaming will run well, I think Classic Empire will turn the table on him.

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes@courier-journal.com.