Always Dreaming wins 143rd Kentucky Derby

Rufina Vignone
Mag 8, 2017

Always Dreaming, the 9-2 co-favorite who looked ready to take on the Kentucky Derby from the moment he arrived at the track, won the 143rd Run for the Roses Saturday in front of 158,070 fans at Churchill Downs.

Anthony Bonomo celebrates after Always Dreaming won the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Trainer Todd Pletcher has now won the race twice in his career with his last win coming in 2010 with Super Saver.

The Florida Derby victor and Kentucky Derby favorite raced right behind the early speed, shifted out entering the stretch turn to take the lead and brought rider John Velazquez home without a spot of mud on his silks despite a sloppy track.

Trainer Graham Motion scratched Miss Temple City from the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile on Saturday, blaming the soggy condition of the grass after two days of rain.

Coping beautifully with the messy track while others faltered, Always Dreaming broke smoothly from the gate and patiently stalked the lead for the first half of the 1 1/4 mile classic before taking charge going into the far turn.

Lookin At Lee finished second ($26.60) from the first post, ahead of Battle of Midway in third (20.80).

Always Dreaming was the favorite at 9/2 with Irish War Cry holding the next-best odds at 5/1, while both McCracken and Classic Empire were going off at 7/1 to win. Battle of Midway, at 40-1, paid $20.80.

Always Dreaming ran 1 ¼ miles in 2:03.59 and paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80.

The colt became increasingly aggressive as Derby Week passed and Pletcher made some changes with his equipment and put a stronger exercise rider up for better control.

"I also felt like I needed that Derby with Johnny", Pletcher said, per Gold.

"It's all the more sweet", said Pletcher about winning a second time.

Some of the local residents who are partners in West Point Thoroughbreds made a quick one-day dash to Louisville and got plenty of air time during the shot.

Classic Empire, victor of the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the morning line favorite, was jostled at the start. I thought he got him in a good rhythm, got him in a good position. "From there I just waited until the quarter pole when I asked him to run".

"There's no feeling like this", said Viola, who is the owner of the NHL's Florida Panthers. "I told them I was 27".

Today, the track sure seemed fast enough for Always Dreaming, who was hardly threatened. "With all the success we've had in the past, winning important races, missing this one is definitely a big one". "It was a really good trip, the kind I dream of and pray for", said Lanerie. Trained by Mark Casse, the Arkansas Derby victor finished fourth, a length behind Battle of Midway. "And I don't think I'll have to twist any arms". The Triple Crown concludes with the Belmont Stakes in NY on June 10. He will move on to the Preakness Stakes in two weeks as the only horse now with a shot at the Triple Crown, horse racing's elusive grand achievement.

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