Always Dreaming Wins Derby

Sandy Mccarthy
May 19, 2017

Always Dreaming splashed through the slop to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 ¾ lengths, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their second victories in the race but their first together.

Always Dreaming, bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners, won for the first time January 25 at Tampa Bay Downs after failing to win maiden races in two attempts at 2.

Pletcher had only won one Derby previously (from 45 runners) with Super Saver in 2010.

After losing his only two starts for another trainer a year ago, the Derby victor is 4 for 4 for Pletcher, winning the races by a combined 23 lengths.

Between them, he and Velazquez were two-for-63 in the fabled race that kicks off the coveted treble completed by the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. As Patch walked to the gates Saturday, the crowd at Churchill Downs erupted in cheers. Battle of Midway finished five lengths further back in third.

Always Dreaming's dominating triumph in Saturday's 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs was still "sinking in", trainer Todd Pletcher said yesterday morning.

And the 49-year-old said sticking it to the doubters via Always Dreaming's victory, from Lookin At Lee, Battle of Midway and Classic Empire, was a sweet one.

Always Dreaming paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80. "He was getting knocked around so many times and the poor guy just never had a shot inside", his jockey Mike Smith said.

"Congratulations to the connections of Always Dreaming on a very impressive performance to win the 143 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum!" The Godolphin runner started bucking shortly after the start, almost dislodging jockey Christophe Soumillon and refused to get involved in the race.

He avenged his father's loss in the 2012 Derby when I'll Have Another closed late to defeat Bodemeister in the final furlong. Pletcher said Always Dreaming would go into the stall reserved for the Derby victor in the Pimlico Stakes Barn.

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Viola and childhood pal Anthony Bonomo are the owners of "Brooklyn Boyz," Always Dreaming's stable. His previous Derby victor, Super Saver, finished a disappointing eighth at Pimlico in 2010. "Finally we got it together with this horse - incredible horse".

"We got wiped out at the start".

"I got a good trip", said Prat.

"I knew we had a big shot with this horse and I was hoping it would happen", Pletcher said.

Always Dreaming, who went off at 9-2 along with Irish War Cry, ran a dream race unflustered by the messy conditions caused by rains on Friday and Saturday. I don't anticipate that we'll breeze him.

Thunder Snow, who had 20-1 odds, barely got out of the gate before having to pull up. So just looking at what the options are, I think, Pimlico generally, there's not a lot of horses training there.

On-call veterinarian Dr Keith Latson reported: "Thunder Snow galloped back to the paddock comfortably under his own power".

Ironically, Pletcher hasn't raced a horse in the Preakness in the past two years, typically skipping Baltimore for his hometown Belmont Stakes.

Early favorite Classic Empire finished fourth, one length out of the money, while fancied McCraken finished eighth and Irish War Cry was 10th across the line, 16 1/2 lengths back.

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