dglobalnews.com Favored Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby
Published: Sun, May 07, 2017
Sports | By Jeannette Edwards

Favored Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby

Favored Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby

Arkansas Derby third-place finisher Lookin At Lee rode the rail all the way around and finished second, 2¾ lengths back, and Santa Anita Derby runner-up Battle of Midway hung on for third.

The Derby was won by the 9-2 post-time favorite, Always Dreaming, the fifth time in a row that the race has been won by the favorite. Suffice to say, it was an exciting race no matter which horse you were pulling for, but even moreso for fans of Always Dreaming.

Pletcher and Velazquez, record money winners among trainers and jockeys, added a long-awaited second Derby triumph to their respective resumes.

"He felt OK but he was struggling with the racetrack early on", Smith said.

John Velazquez aboard Always Dreaming (5) leads the field at the start of the 2017 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Given all the high-priced horse flesh in his barn, it was viewed as a bit of a disappointment that his only Kentucky Derby victory came with Super Saver in 2010. That hurdle cleared, Pletcher mapped out a cautious plan that had Always Dreaming skip the Fountain of Youth, a traditional prep for the Florida Derby, in favor of an allowance race on the same day at Gulfstream Park. It appears bettors have the 1A-or-1B mindset, with Always Dreaming listed at +450. Beyond that, there came a first Derby win with a first Derby horse for the ownership team of Anthony Bonomo and Vinnie Viola, childhood friends from Brooklyn. "We just knew when we got together that something special was going to happen".

Pletcher said he had never been more confident coming into the Derby than he was this year.

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In the end, it was a comfortable win by Always Dreaming, trained by Todd Pletcher and jockeyed by John Velazquez with a finishing time of 2:03.59.

He is also the first horse since 1933 to win the Kentucky Derby after not winning his first race until on or after January 25.

Another storyline had been the return of jockey Rajiv Maragh, who rode Irish War Cry. "But in 17 years we have two wins, two seconds and three thirds so it's become a little more respectable now". Battle of Midway, who was 40-1, paid $20.80 to show and completed a $1 trifecta of $8,297.20. He steered Always Dreaming into an ideal trip behind pacesetter State of Honor, with mud flying in all directions on a surface that resembled creamy peanut butter.

"When Corey cut the corner, I thought we were the victor", Asmussen said.

Velazquez used his colt's speed out of the gate to get good position early in a chaotic start that saw several horses, including Classic Empire, get sandwiched. Numerous country's best horses converge at Churchill Downs seeking six-figure payoffs and major prestige.

The presumed favorite, reigning juvenile champion, Classic Empire, slipped to 7-1 in the betting odds over worries about how the quirky colt would handle the Derby's circus atmosphere. He was bucking out of the gate.

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