Always Dreaming, winner of the Florida Derby, took a clean trip on the rail to cruise to a sloppy but triumphant Kentucky Derby win at Churchill Downs earlier this evening.
Despite the bright sun and warm temperatures today in Kentucky, the track at Churchill Downs was still sloppy thanks to drenching rains at the end of the week. With a full field of 20 horses with limited experience in the mud — only Classic Empire had ever won on a sloppy track, and many in the field hadn’t ever even run in those conditions — the Derby remained a wide-open race.
Almost right out of the gate, Thunder Snow, the Godolphin-bred colt who flew in just a week ago from Dubai, appeared to react strongly perhaps to the surface and went rank, bucking as his jockey pulled him up. He was held in the paddock as the race continued, with initial veterinary reports stating there was no indicator of any major injury. He walked back to the barn where he will continue to be monitored.
State of Honor set the pace early on while Always Dreaming took a space-saving route on the rail. Half a mile in, jockey John Velazquez moved Always Dreaming to the outside and took over the lead, soon threatened by Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry. Always Dreaming repelled the charge, and in the final stretch, with one last charge by Lookin At Lee, the Florida Derby winner dug deeper through the mud and cruised home to win by two and three-quarter lengths.
Always Dreaming was the 5/2 favorite, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his second Kentucky Derby win. The horse is owned in partnership by MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz Stable, Teresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds.
1: Always Dreaming
2. Lookin At Lee
3. Battle of Midway
4. Classic Empire
5. Practical Joke
10. Irish War Cry
15. J Boys Echo
17. Fast And Accurate
19. State of Honor
DNF: Thunder Snow
We’ll be eagerly anticipating the Preakness Stakes in just two weeks — after a grueling, sloppy Kentucky Derby, who will contest the second jewel of the Triple Crown? Fresh horses such as impressive Arkansas Derby runner-up Conquest Mo Money will be potentially racing, making for a fascinating brand-new field.