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It was a rainy Saturday at the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, but the day was anything but gloomy for Always Dreaming. The Todd Pletcher-trained thoroughbred conquered the sloppy track, making it five years in a row that the favourite has won the Run for the Roses.

Always Dreaming came into the race as the favourite, although he was expected to have competition from Classic Empire, McCraken and Irish War Cry. That never proved to be the case, as McCracken finished eighth, Irish War Cry finished 10th and Classic Empire finished fourth.

There’s no question that the sloppy track at Churchill Downs changed the dynamics. Trainer Pletcher and jockey John Velasquez had some work to do with Always Dreaming, but he responded very well. He looked confident breaking out of the No. 5 post, and he never let up. Velasquez navigated him right behind State of Honor, who set the pace early, and that helped him avoid a bunched up field. By the final turn, Always Dreaming caught up and passed State of Honor for the win. Lookin’ At Lee came in second, followed by Battle of Midway. State of Honor finished last.

It was the long-awaited second Kentucky Derby win for Pletcher, who won with Super Saver in 2010. Velasquez won with Animal Kingdom the following year. The two have been friends for a long time and have finally been able to secure a win as a team.

Meanwhile, Always Dreaming has now won four races in a row. A few experts doubted him going into this sloppy track but he coped quite well. While others faltered, he looked stronger as the race went on.


2017 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico

Always Dreaming has already arrived at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes, which takes place on Saturday, May 20. Early odds have him as a 10/11 favourite to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown, but we’ll have to see who enters to challenge him.

The Preakness is the shortest of the Triple Crown races at 1 3/16 miles, so jockeys have to be a little more aggressive coming out of the gate. There isn’t much time on the back end to catch up to the leaders if the horse is trailing. The Preakness tends to present better opportunities for frontrunners rather than closers.

Velasquez handled Always Dreaming excellently at Churchill Downs and he’ll have to do so again in less than two weeks at Pimlico. Expect both Pletcher and Velasquez to be a major part of the storyline going into this race as neither have ever won the Preakness. This is the only race that Velasquez needs to complete his own Triple Crown, as he won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes twice.


*Odds as of May 10, 2017