Favored Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby

Favored Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby

Favored Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby

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.

Jockey John Velazquez rode Always Dreaming to victory on a muddy Churchill Downs track Saturday.

The second- and third-place finishes of Lookin at Lee (33-1) and Battle of Midway (40-1) keyed some monster payouts.

A total of 147 horses ran in the 14 races on Saturday, down from 155 horses on the Derby Day card a year ago.

A 5-year-old with global experience, Roca Rojo won her first two races in her native Ireland before joining Brown's US stable last year.

With the Kentucky Derby out of the way, Pletcher and Velazquez will turn their attention to the Preakness Stakes on May 20 as Always Dreaming looks to continue his run to the Triple Crown.

Always Dreaming, who was purchased at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale for $350,000, moved his career record to 6: 4-1-1 with earnings of $2,284,700. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Empire had previously won twice at Churchill Downs, including a debut victory previous year during Derby week, but he had been sidelined with foot and back issues. From there it was clear that the dark bay colt was not going to be beaten.

"A lot of times it doesn't", Pletcher said of the strategy devised with Bonomo and Viola.

The victor ran the mile and a quarter on what was labeled a wet, fast track but was muddy for much of the day, in 2 minutes, 3.59 seconds. "I've got a friend who's got the number one horse at the Kentucky Derby. He'll tell me who to put the money on, and we'll see who wins", Farrabi said. Just like he did in the Florida Derby, Always Dreaming stayed near the front of the pack for much of the race before shifting into an extra gear down the front stretch earn the win.

"We also felt he was setting on go nearly to the point our main focus was just trying to deliver it at 6:45 on Saturday and not 6:45 on Thursday morning", Pletcher said.

Irish War Cry (9/2) won the Wood Memorial. Trained by Mark Casse, the Arkansas Derby victor finished fourth, a length behind Battle of Midway.

Battle of Midway finished third in the 20-horse field.

Trainer Steve Asmussen (Hence, Untrapped, Lookin at Lee) entered with zero victories in 15 Derby starts - most all-time without a victory.

"I was nervous watching him gallop", the trainer said.

Always Dreaming is the victor of the 143rd Kentucky Derby.

The name of the 2017 Derby champ came from Mary Ellen Bonomo, Anthony's wife. "I felt like this week, people were defending it for me for some reason".

It was up for grabs in the final furlong with several horses still having a shot.

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