Everybody’s favourite Always Dreaming, who threaded out a two-and-a-half length lead over Lookin at Lee to bring home the $1.6 million winner’s purse.
MeB Racing Stables, Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, St. Elias Stable, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds’ favored Always Dreaming shook clear of longshot State of Honor at the half-mile pole, opened a daylight advantage and cruised to a 2 ¾-length victory over Lookin At Lee to win the 143rd running of the $2,395,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) for 3-year-olds before a crowd of 158,070, the seventh largest in Derby history.
Always Dreaming ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Todd Pletcher came into the 143rd “Run for the Roses” at Churchill Downs in Louisville, at 9-to-2 odds. Always Dreaming covered the 1 1/4 miles on a wet-fast track in 2:03.59.
The New York-based duo has teamed up often over the years and is the sport’s leading money winners. On their own, they were a combined 2 for 63 coming into America’s greatest race.
Joining forces, they were unbeatable on a cool and rainy day at Churchill Downs.
For Pletcher and Velazquez, it was their second taste of Kentucky Derby glory. Pletcher had saddled 2010 winner Super Saver and a year later Velazquez piloted Animal Kingdom to victory.
The victory was worth $1,635,800 to the Kentucky-bred son of Bodemeister out of the In Excess (IRE) mare Above Perfection. In his previous start, Always Dreaming won the Florida Derby.
State of Honor led the field of 20 through an opening quarter-mile and the half-mile with Always Dreaming right behind him. On the final turn, Always Dreaming took command as State of Honor faded. Despite chasing a quick early pace, Always Dreaming was still full of run. No other horses threatened him down the stretch and Velazquez furiously pumped his right arm as they crossed the finish line.
Always Dreaming stuck his head in front at the half-mile pole and was a half-length in front of Battle of Midway at the head of the stretch. By mid-stretch, Always Dreaming had opened a three-length lead and was well on his way to becoming the fifth consecutive favourite to win the Kentucky Derby.
Lookin At Lee rallied from far back under Corey Lanerie to claim second, five lengths in front of Battle of Midway with Flavien Prat up.
Always Dreaming returned $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80. Lookin At Lee returned $26.60 and $15.20 with Battle of Midway returning $20.80 to show.
Following the top three in order were Classic Empire, Practical Joke, Tapwrit, Gunnevera, McCraken, Gormley, Irish War Cry, Hence, Untrapped, Girvin, Patch, J Boys Echo, Sonneteer, Fast and Accurate, Irap and State of Honor. Thunder Snow(IRE) did not finish the race.
Source: Kentucky Derby