Always Dreaming wins rain-soaked Kentucky Derby

Amos Gonzales
May 17, 2017

He was no doubt the alpha horse when he took over at the top of the stretch putting away every challenger easily. "We've had so much success in the past, yet we hadn't won a Derby but finally we do it together with this horse", Velazquez told NBC. "I don't think I'm any better trainer than I was an hour ago, but I felt like another one would solidify it". We're thankful we did it. "We had some anxious moments during the week, but we were just happy to see him deliver the performance we felt he was capable of".

But while Always Dreaming had been a favorite to win going into the race, it was a one-eyed colt named Patch who captured many fans' hearts in recent days. Despite chasing a quick early pace, Always Dreaming was still full of run.

"It didn't appear to be a gut-wrenching race", Pletcher said on Sunday. This one we hadn't, and this is the one we wanted to win together.

"It means a lot".

"There's not that much separation from this bunch of 3-year-olds right now, from what I can see, other than maybe the victor yesterday", said trainer Ken McPeek, who is pointing Lexington Stakes victor Senior Investment toward the Preakness.

Having arrived at the Florida Derby on April 1 with no points, he had hogged 100 there with a captivating run, winning by five lengths with the best time (1:47.47) since Alydar in 1978.

Viola and childhood pal Anthony Bonomo are the owners of "Brooklyn Boyz," Always Dreaming's stable.

"I named the horse because I'm always daydreaming or dreaming about something".

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He took the lead after halfway, with market rival Irish War Cry in close attendance.

Irish War Cry, the other co-favorite, finished 10th. Lookin at Lee, a 33-1 shot, returned $26.60, $15.20, while 40-1 choice Battle of Midway paid $20.80.

"He's really got some spring in his step this morning", Pletcher said. "He broke well and he put me right in the race".

By winning the Kentucky Derby, he went one better than his sire Bodemeister in 2012. Trainer Steve Asmussen exclaimed, "He's the first horse in 20 years to run in the top three from the one hole". Another longshot, Battle of Midway, finished third. Ziegler said. "I'm so grateful. There are some nice, solid horses", he said. "I thought we had a big shot when we were turning for home". "He was traveling and carrying me". Another quarter of a mile for the son of Lookin at Lucky shouldn't be an issue.

The pressure was on the New York-based Pletcher, whose Derby record of one victor from 45 previous runners was much talked about prior to the race on Sunday morning (AEST).

The Derby is his second major victory of the year.

The Kentucky Derby is the 1st race in the Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness and the Belmont.

Pletcher, who always measures his words and emotions closely, would never say it, but Always Dreaming stamped himself as a strong threat to join the 12 Triple Crown champions two years after American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought. Attendance of 158,070, was the seventh highest attendance figure in track history.

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