ALWAYS Dreaming is the 143rd Kentucky Derby champion, and the fifth consecutive favourite to win America’s favourite race. He held off a late charge from Lookin At Lee, Battle of Midway and Classic Empire to claim the roses at Churchill Downs on Saturday by two-and-three-quarter lengths.
Always Dreaming is also the first horse since 1933 to win the Kentucky Derby after not winning his first race until on or after January 25.
Said jockey John Velasquez: “He responded right away. I think we came into the derby with a much better horse than we have in the past. Today was a different story. Got a nice position going to the wire. He got to relax and then waited to the quarter pole and he responded right away.”
It was Velasquez’s second win in the Kentucky Derby, last winning in 2011 on Animal Kingdom. Trainer Todd Pletcher has now won the race twice in his career with his last win coming in 2010 with Super Saver.
“I think he really came in here and knew it was game time, and he was ready to go,” Pletcher said. “The most important thing to do is bring the best horse to the Derby, and that’s what we were able to do.”
Thunder Snow, the colt from Dubai, did not finish the race after breaking poorly from the gate and bucking.
Always Dreaming is a son of Bodemeister, himself runner-up in the 2012 renewal of the KY Derby.