Always Dreaming takes 143rd Kentucky Derby

Lawrence Kim
May 14, 2017

A trainer and jockey accustomed to success.

"I think the heart, mind and attitude of the horse are big factors in the recovery", Breen told CNN.

"I'd love to win the Kentucky Derby", he said.

But Velazquez, who had positioned his mount to not get mud kicked in his face, settled the victor of the Florida Derby into a relaxed stride in the run down the backstretch as the pace slowed, close but not too close to the lead.

Always Dreaming won the 143rd Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:03.59.

"We have had a great relationship for a long time now, and we have won a lot of races together", Pletcher said.

Lookin At Lee was one of three horses Asmussen saddled in this year's Derby.

The fifth straight favourite to win the roses, the Florida Derby victor was always handy as he splashed through the slop in a dominant performance in front of a crowd of 158,070 beneath the iconic Twin Spires at Churchill Downs.

He was followed across the finish line by a pair of longshots: 33-1 Lookin At Lee and 40-1 Battle of Midway.

The $2 exacta paid $336.20, the $1 trifecta was worth more than $8,000, and a $1 superfecta bet, which included fourth-place Classic Empire, returned $75,974.50.

"The first order of business is to make sure he came out of it well, and the second order of business is how can you get there and what's the best approach to getting to the Preakness", Pletcher said. And having won twice at nine furlongs gave him a great foundation. Battle of Midway was always within striking distance of the leaders when holding well to be third. The following year, Velazquez won his first Derby on Animal Kingdom. What's he doing with more last-place finishes than first-place finishes in the Derby?

The Irish-bred colt went off at 16-1 odds and was the only contender to race overseas before coming to the Kentucky Derby.

"Every day, I stop to think, 'My horse can win the Kentucky Derby, '" Sano said. "I'd really prefer not to comment on his race until I have a chance to watch the replay".

Always Dreaming paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80. "We just knew when we got together that something special was going to happen". The track is impossible. "The second I had to ask him to straighten up and once I got under the wire for the first time, I was happy where I was. He did it himself from there".

Always Dreaming, a son of 2012 runner-up Bodemeister, is owned by a six-way partnership.

He was fractious in the morning, refusing to relax. "I mean, you can't help but root for him".

Turns out the dark brown colt knew best. While it was a sloppy day on the track and all the horses had to endure it, Thunder Snow wanted no part of it.

Which horse would run down Pletcher's Derby favorite, Always Dreaming?

The victory was worth $1,635,800.

The win for Always Dreaming was his third of this year and his third under the care of mega-trainer Pletcher.

As of Monday, the betting favorites were Classic Empire and Always Dreaming.

It turns out Thunder Snow just might not like mud. He was caught by the outrider and walked back to the barn on his own.

Always Dreaming had been fractious in morning workouts leading up to the Derby. And so the other horse, obviously, showed some speed.

"He's an incredible horse, obviously a very young horse, with not a lot of experience, and to come here today and the way he did it was very impressive".

In the ownership of Always Dreaming is billionaire Vinnie Viola, who also owns the Florida Panthers in the National Hockey League, and was set to become US President Donald Trump's army secretary before withdrawing as a candidate in February.

That allowed some generous-priced horses to hit the ticket.

Classic Empire, the Breeders' Cup juvenile victor and Eclipse Juvenile champion, qualified second with 132 points (and over $2 million in non-restricted stakes earnings) and was the morning line favorite.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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