Louisville, KY - Through the clouds, rain, sunshine and more rain prior to the start of yesterday's race, the Todd Pletcher trained Always Dreaming put on a show for a crowd of 158,070 spectators in Kentucky Derby 143. Veteran Jockey Johnny Velazquez was able to steer the colt through a sloppy track to win by 2-3/4 lengths, giving both Velazquez and Pletcher their second Kentucky Derby victories but their first together.
Yesterday's win gives the colt his forth consecutive win this year after placing second and third in earlier prep races.
Always Dreaming was able to fend off a late charging Lookin At Lee, Battle of Midway and Classic Empire to claim the roses, making this the fifth consecutive year that a favorite has finished first in the Kentucky Derby.
Pletcher stated, "The most important thing to do is bring the best horse to the Derby, and that's what we were able to do." Pletcher and Velazquez have worked in tandem over the past several years and are horse racing's leading money winners. They went off at the start of the race as the post time favorite with odds of 9/2. Always Dreaming reached the finish line with a pair of long shots trailing behind him: Lookin At Lee at 33-1, and Battle of Midway at 40-1.
Always Dreaming paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80. While Lookin At Lee returned $26.60 and $18.20, with Battle of Midway finishing another five lengths back paying out at $20.80.
Velazquez was able to break well from the gates and used his colts speed to tuck in behind State of Honor's bullet run after several other horses were bumped or boxed in. Despite mud flying up into Always Dreaming's face he was able to take command coming into the stretch turn as State of Honor began to loose steam. No other contenders challenged them in the final stretch and they crossed the finish line in 2:03:59.
Always Dreaming is expected to ship to Pimlico tomorrow to begin preparing the upcoming Preakness Stakes in two weeks.