Always Dreaming is heading to Kentucky for a date with history after the 3-year-old Bodemeister colt took the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) by five lengths on Saturday.
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The victory ensured Always Dreaming will be one of the top choices for the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 6. The dark bay colt would be Bodemeister's first Derby starter, and could be joined by graded stakes-placed American Anthem. Both are from Bodemeister's first crop of runners, helping propel the WinStar stallion to the second spot on the current Second-Crop Sire list.
Always Dreaming didn't have an ideal trip in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile contest. Going into the first turn, jockey John Velazquez had to take up sharply when Always Dreaming got squeezed back by Three Rules and State of Honor. Velazquez shifted Always Dreaming to the outside and was in second, just a length behind Three Rules, after a half-mile in :47.08.
Velazquez continued to track the leader until the top of the stretch, when he shook the reins and Always Dreaming surged to the front, quickly pulling away and coming under the wire a clear winner in 1:47.47, less than a second off the track record and the fastest Florida Derby since Alydar in 1978.
“I think the whole program really helped today. We brought him along gradually, opted for the allowance race on Fountain of Youth day and I think all that paid off.,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “The horse has been training exceptionally well and we were confident he was going to run as well as he’s capable of, and thank fully he did. With two mile and an eighth wins and the way he galloped out today, I’m confident he’ll get the trip (in the Kentucky Derby). Like always, you want them to stay healthy and you have to have some good luck for the next five weeks.”
Always Dreaming has won all three of his starts since joining Pletcher's barn. His overall record is 3-1-1 in five starts with earnings of $648,900 for the Brooklyn Boyz Stables et al partnership.
Bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners, Always Dreaming sold for $350,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling sale.