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Kentucky Derby 143 Recap

2017 Kentucky Derby Recap with Facts and Figures, Trivia and Connections Quotes

Always Dreaming Triumphant in Kentucky Derby 143

By Dick Downey
Photo by Coady Photography
Posted May 6, 2017

Always Dreaming behaved himself before and during the 143d running of the Kentucky Derby, and the result was a dream trip and a 2 3/4-length victory.

Under John Velazquez, Always Dreaming broke cleanly from post 5 and established a forward position down the stretch for the first time. He tracked State of Honor through the first quarter-mile in 22.70 and the first half in 46.53 leaving the first turn.

Up the backstretch, Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry tracked the front two in third and fourth. As the field neared the far turn, six furlongs were gone in 1:11.12 and Always Dreaming had wrested the lead from a retreating State of Honor. As Always Dreaming rounded the turn in front, he was still under pressure to his outside from Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry.

When heads turned for home, Always Dreaming had covered the mile in 1:37.27. From there to the finish line, there were no more serious challenge to him as he ran to victory in a time of 2:03.59.

The condition of the track was a story of its own today. The card started at 10:30 with the surface rated sloppy under a very cloudy sky. At 12:30, the sun appeared earlier than forecasts predicted, and by the time race eight on the card was run, the surface was upgraded to muddy. But more rain came in during the 10th race, and the track was once again rendered sloppy and stayed that way through the Derby. The Equibase chart inexplicably says the track was wet-fast.

Lookin at Lee, who broke from the dreaded post 1, made a very late rally to finish second after being 16th in the 20-horse field after the first half-mile. He bested third finisher Battle of Midway by five lengths. Classic Empire, the morning line favorite, was sent off at 6-1 odds and finished another length back in fourth.

The post-time favorite was Always Dreaming at 9-2 odds. Irish War Cry was also 9-2 but drew slightly less win wagering. The victory by Always Dreaming marked the fifth straight year that the post-time favorite has won the Kentucky Derby.

It was the second Kentucky Derby victory for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also won in 2010 with Super Saver. Velazquez also notched his second Derby win after taking the race aboard Animal Kingdom in 2011.

After Always Dreaming arrived in Kentucky from Palm Beach Downs, a new facet of his personality emerged, and that was a tendency to be rank during morning exercise. The colt put in his final pre-Derby workout eight days before the race but remained rank in the mornings.

Two days after that workout, Pletcher changed exercise riders, putting Nick Bush on the colt's back, and the trainer added draw reins to make it easier for Bush to control Always Dreaming's new-found tendency to throw his head and buck. Soon the colt's behavior improved, and during the post parade and warm-up for the Kentuclu Derby, he was obviously full of energy but acted well.

Pletcher said after the race his goal since arriving here was for Always Dreaming to put out his best effort at 6:45 on Saturday afternoon, not at 6:45 on Thursday morning. Pletcher's team made that goal a reality.

Equibase chart


2017 Kentucky Derby Facts, Figures

Winning Connections and other facts about Always Dreaming
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Viola Racing Stables, St. Elias Stables LLC, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds, et al.
Breeder:  Santa Rosa Partners
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Bodemeister (Empire Maker, Untouched Talent)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Above Perfection (In Excess (IRE), Something Perfect)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-5-4-0-0 (12) 5.00
Foal Date: Feb. 25

The Top Five Finishers
1. Always Dreaming
2. Lookin at Lee
3. Battle of Midway
4. Classic Empire
5. Practical Joke

Times, Conditions
Winning Time: 2:03.59
Track: Officially rated wet-fast-sealed; track video showed sloppy-sealed; surface appeared to be sloppy-sealed

Pace Fractions: 22.70, 46.53, 1:11.12, 1:37.37, 2:03.59

Always Dreaming's Fractions: 22.90, 46.73, 1:11.11, 1:37.27, 2:03.59

Always Dreaming's Internal Fractions: He went the first quarter mile of the Kentucky Derby in 22.90, the second quarter in 23.83, the third in 24.38, the fourth in 26.16 and the final quarter mile in 26.32.

Winning Margin: 2 3/4 lengths

Purse: $2,391,600. First $1,635,800; second $400,000; third $200,000; fourth $100,000; fifth $60,000


Always Dreaming: $11.40 to win, $7.20 to place and $5.80 to show
Lookin at Lee: $26.60 to place, $15.20 to show
Battle of Midway: $20.80 to show

$2 Double $25.50
$2 Exacta $336.20
$1 Pick 3 $415.00
$1 Pick 4 $6,882.80
$0.50 Pick Five 5 $50,065.35
0.20 Pick 6 (6 of 6) $85,733.54
$1 Super High 5 $493,348.70
$1 Superfecta $75,974.50
$2 Trifecta $16,594.40

Future Pool 1 $4.40
Sire Pool $7.00
Future Pool 2 $17.80
Future Pool 3 $86.40
Future Pool 4 $14.20

Finish position, beaten lengths

1. Always Dreaming
2. Lookin at Lee, beaten 2 3/4 lengths
3. Battle of Midway, beaten 7 3/4 lengths
4. Classic Empire, beaten 8 3/4 lengths
5. Practical Joke, beaten 9 1/2 lengths
6. Tapwrit, beaten 10 1/4 lengths
7. Gunnevera, beaten 13 1/4 lengths
8. McCraken, beaten 13 1/4 lengths, head
9. Gormley, beaten 14 1/4 lengths
10. Irish War Cry, beaten 16 1/2 lengths
11. Hence, beaten 118 1/2 lengths, head
12. Untrapped, beaten 19 1/4 lengths
13. Girvin, beaten 19 1/2 lengths
14. Patch, beaten 21 lengths
15. J Boys Echo, beaten 23 lengths
16. Sonneteer, beaten 26 1/4 lengths
17. Fast and Accurate, beaten 28 3/4 lengths
18. Irap, beaten 40 3/4 lengths
19. State of Honor, beaten 45 3/4 length
20. Thunder Snow, DNF

Scratched: Also eligibles Royal Mo and Master Plan

Announced Attendance
2017: Attendane 158,070
2016: Attendance 167,227, second highest
2015: Attendance: 170,513, a record
2014 Attendance: 164,906
2013 Attendance 151,616
2012 Attendance 165,307
2011 Attendance: 164,858
2010 Attendance: 155,804
2009 Attendance: 153,563
2008 Attendance: 157,770
2007 Attendance: 156,635
2006 Attendance: 157,536


Battle of the Pletcher Horses
Always Dreaming first, Tapwrit sixth, Patch 14th

Battle of the Asmussen Horses
Lookin at Lee second, Hence 11th, Untrapped 12th

Battle of the Casse Horses
Classic Empire fourth, State of Honor 19th

Best, Worst in Proportion to Odds
Best finish of a low-odds horse: Always Dreaming won at 4.70-1
Worst finish of a low-odds horse: Irish War Cry finished 10th at 4.80-1
Best finish of a high-odds horse: Lookin at Lee finished second at 33-1
Worst finish of a high-odds horse: State of Honor finished 19th at 54-1; Thunder Snow did not finish at 16-1 and was walked off the track

Finish Position of the Recent Grade I Winners
Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming finished first
Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley finished ninth
Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire finished fourth

Show Bet in the Derby
Always Dreaming paid $5.80 to show at 9-2 odds.
Lookin at Lee paid $15.20 to show.
at 33-1 odds
Battle of Midway paid $20.80 to show at 40-1 odds

Closer That Couldn't Get There
Sonneteer finished 16th after being 18th after six furlongs
Closer That Got Into the Mix Late

Lookin at Lee finished second after being 16th after six furlongs

Winner Lengths from Pace
At a quarter-mile: one length
At a half-mile: one length
At six furlongs: first by head
At one mile: first by one-half length
At 1 1/8 mile: first by three lengths



No.   Horse Finish  Odds   ML Jockey Trainer Owner Breeder Last Race
 1 Lookin at Lee  2d  33-1    20-1    Corey Lanerie S Asmussen L and N Racing Ray Hanson (KY) 3d ARK Derby
 2 Thunder Snow  DNF  16-1  20-1 C Soumillon S bin Suroor Godolphin Darley (IRE) 1st UAE Derby
 3 Fast and Accurate  17th  41-1  50-1 T Gaffalione M Maker Kendall Hansen, Skychai Racing, Sand Dollar Stable & Bode Miller John R. Penn (PA) 1st Spiral
 4 Untrapped  12th  58-1  30-1 Ricardo Santana, Jr. S Asmussen Michael Langford Indian Creek & Jonathan Sheppard (KY) 6th ARK Derby
 5 Always Dreaming  1st  9-2  5-1 J Velazquez T Pletcher Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Viola Racing Stables, St. Elias Stables LLC, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds, et al. Santa Rosa Partners (KY)  1st FL Derby
 6 State of Honor  19th  54-1  30-1 J Lezcano M Casse Conrad Farms Manfred Conrad & Penny Conrad  (ON) 2d FL Derby
 7 Girvin  13th  22-1  15-1 M Smith J Sharp Brad Grady Bob Austin & John Witte (KY) 1st LA Derby
 8 Hence  11th  15-1  15-1 F Geroux S Asmussen Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) (KY) 1st Sunland
 9 Irap  18th  41-1  20-1 M Gutierrez D O'Neill Reddam Racing LLC Aaron & Marie Jones (KY) 1st Blue Grass
 10 Gunnevera  7th  10-1  15-1 J Castellano A Sano Peacock Racing Stables LLC (Solomon Del-Valle & Guillermo Guerra) Brandywine Farm and Stephen Upchurch (KY) 3d FL Derby
 11 Battle of Midway  3d  40-1  30-1 F Prat J Hollendorfer WinStar Farm & Don Alberto Stable Thor-Bred Stables, LLC (KY) 2d SA Derby
 12 Sonneteer  16th  39-1  50-1 Kent Desormeaux K Desormeaux Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) (KY) 4th ARK Derby
 13 J Boys Echo  15th  47-1  20-1 Luis Saez D Romans Albaugh Family Stable Betz/Blackburn/J. Betz/Ramsby/CNHHNK (KY) 4th Blue Grass
 14 Classic Empire  4th  6-1  4-1 J Leparoux M Casse John C. Oxley Steven & Brandi Nicholson (KY) 1st ARK Derby
 15 McCraken  8th  6-1  5-1 B Hernandez, Jr. I Wilkes Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC (Janice Whitham et al) Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY) 3d Blue Grass
 16 Tapwrit  6th  27-1  20-1 J Ortiz T Pletcher Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners & Robert LaPenta My Meadowview LLC (KY) 5th Blue Grass
 17 Irish War Cry  10th  9-2  6-1 R Maragh G Motion Isabelle de Tomaso Isabelle de Tomaso (NJ) 1st Wood Mem
 18 Gormley  9th  22-1  15-1 V Espinoza J Shirreffs Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss Castleton Lyons & Kilboy Estate (KY 1st SA Derby
 19 Practical Joke  5th  27-1  20-1 J Rosario C Brown Klaravich Stables, Inc. & William H. Lawrence Whispering Oaks (KY) 2d Blue Grass
 20 Patch  14th  14-1  30-1 Tyler Gaffalione T Pletcher Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) (KY) 2d LA Derby
  Also Eligibile                
21 Royal Mo  SCR     Gary Stevens J Shirreffs Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss Brandywine Farm (KY) 3d SA Derby
22 Master Plan  SCR       Todd Pletcher Al Shaqab Racing, WinStar Farm LLC and China Horse Club Ernest C. Frohboese (KY) 3d UAE Derby


Owners: 1 - L and N Racing, LLC (Lee Levinson); 2 - Godolphin, LLC, Lessee (Mohammed Al Maktoum, et al.); 3 - Hansen, K., Skychai Racing LLC, Miller, B. and Sand Dollar Stable LLC; 4 - Michael Langford; 5 - MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm and West Point; 6 - Conrad Farms (Manfred and Penny Conrad); 7 - Brad Grady; 8 - Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley); 9 - Reddam Racing, LLC (J. Paul Reddam); 10 - Peacock Racing Stables, LLC (Salomon Del Valle, Guillermo Guerra and Jamie Diaz); 11 - Don Alberto Stable (Carlos Heller) and WinStar Farm, LLC (Kenny Troutt); 12 - Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley); 13 - Albaugh Family Stable, LLC (Dennis Albaugh); 14 - John C. Oxley; 15 - Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC (Janis R. Whitham); 16 - Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and LaPenta, Robert V.; 17 - Isabelle de Tomaso; 18 - Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Moss; 19 - Klaravich Stables, Inc. (Seth Klarman) and William H. Lawrence; 20 - Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley)

Breeders: 1 - Ray Hanson; 2 - Darley; 3 - John R. Penn; 4 - Indian Creek & Jonathan Sheppard; 5 - Santa Rosa Partners; 6 - Manfred Conrad & Penny Conrad; 7 - Bob Austin & John Witte; 8 - Calumet Farm; 9 - Aaron & Marie Jones; 10 - Brandywine Farm & Stephen Upchurch; 11 - Thor-Bred Stables, LLC; 12 - Calumet Farm; 13 - Betz/Blackburn/J. Betz/Ramsby/CNHHNK; 14 - Steven Nicholson & Brandi Nicholson; 15 - Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC; 16 - My Meadowview LLC; 17 - Isabelle de Tomaso; 18 - Castleton Lyons & Kilboy Estate; 19 - Whispering Oaks; 20 - Calumet Farm

Pedigrees (Sire - Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 - Lookin At Lucky - Langara Lass , by Langfuhr ; 2 - Helmet (AUS) - Eastern Joy (GB) , by Dubai Destination ; 3 - Hansen - It's Heidi's Dance , by Green Dancer ; 4 - Trappe Shot - Exit Three , by Giant's Causeway ; 5 - Bodemeister - Above Perfection , by In Excess (IRE) ; 6 - To Honor and Serve - State Cup , by Elusive Quality ; 7 - Tale of Ekati - Catch the Moon , by Malibu Moon ; 8 - Street Boss - Floating Island , by A.P. Indy ; 9 - Tiznow - Silken Cat , by Storm Cat ; 10 - Dialed In - Unbridled Rage , by Unbridled ; 11 - Smart Strike - Rigoletta , by Concerto ; 12 - Midnight Lute - Ours , by Half Ours ; 13 - Mineshaft - Letgomyecho , by Menifee ; 14 - Pioneerof the Nile - Sambuca Classica , by Cat Thief ; 15 - Ghostzapper - Ivory Empress , by Seeking the Gold ; 16 - Tapit - Appealing Zophie , by Successful Appeal ; 17 - Curlin - Irish Sovereign , by Polish Numbers ; 18 - Malibu Moon - Race to Urga , by Bernstein ; 19 - Into Mischief - Halo Humor , by Distorted Humor ; 20 - Union Rags - Windyindy , by A.P. Indy




Todd Pletcher, trainer of Always Dreaming (1st)/Tapwrit (sixth)/Patch (14th) – (A very emotional Todd Pletcher shedding tears): “I knew we had a big shot with this horse, and I was hoping it would happen. The trip unfolded not exactly the way we had planned. We knew for sure we didn’t want to be behind a wall of horses and that turned out OK. Johnny of course rode him great. This is so special to win this race with Johnny. We’ve been together for all these years and this is sweet. I’m sorry I don’t have a clue about my other two horses. I was so intense following Always Dreaming up front that I never did get a chance to pick them up.”

Steve Asmussen, trainer of Lookin At Lee (2nd)/Hence (11th)/Untrapped (12th) –"I'm definitely proud of 'Lee.' He just keeps coming. Drawing the one was tough. He's the first horse in 20 years to run in the top three from the one hole. A lot of credit goes to Corey for navigating a very good course from there. To me, the Kentucky Derby, everything about it is a thrill. I'm just proud of the effort of Lookin at Lee and the whole team. Hats off to the winner. He ran an incredible race. With Untrapped, Ricardo found a really good spot with him. It just ran away from him in the middle. Hence didn't run into the mud hitting him."

Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Battle of Midway (3rd) – “I thought our horse gave a nice effort. We had a good position coming into the lane, but Todd’s horse was too good.”

Mark Casse, trainer of Classic Empire (4th)/State of Honor (19th) – “We got wiped out at the start. That’s the problem with the auxiliary gate. McCraken came and nearly knocked us. Classic Empire really got clobbered. The track is impossible. Our horse ran extremely well, considering. State of Honor didn’t like the track. I should have told Jose to go right to the rail because the track has been so speed favoring, especially on the rail.”

Chad Brown, trainer of Practical Joke (5th) -- “We got a beautiful trip from the 19 hole. I thought Joel did as well as he could. My horse really got a dream trip, I thought. He even got to the inside where it appeared the track had been better the last two days. He cut the corner and he just couldn’t sustain his run. I thought he handled the conditions well and so did Joel. Can’t blame the track. I think today he showed he just has a limit to how far he can run. He’s a fine racehorse, he’s a grade 1 racehorse. He just can’t go this classic distance. I’ll talk to the owners, we’ll give him a little bit of a breather, and we’ll focus on races a little bit shorter than this.”

Antonio Sano, trainer of Gunnevera, (7th) – "He came back very well. We have no excuse."

Ian Wilkes, trainer of McCraken (8th) – “I got a great ride. He got knocked around a bit leaving there but that’s the Derby. I thought he got him in a good rhythm, got him in a good position. He made his move and I got a little excited, but he didn’t finish it off. The winner was too good.”

John Shirreffs, trainer of Gormley (9th) – “Gormley came back fine. I’d really prefer not to comment on his race until I have a chance to watch the replay.”

Graham Motion, trainer of Irish War Cry (10th) – “Rajiv said he was cruising at the top of the stretch. He said he kind of went from having a lot of horse to not having a lot of horse in three strides. Could it be the mile and a quarter? Maybe, but I think it’s too early to say. He just didn’t finish up. Rajiv thought he was really traveling at the top of the stretch.”

Joe Sharp, trainer of Girvin (13th) – “Mike came back and said he belongs with this bunch. He hated the track, but still tried to make a run and then we got wiped out on the turn.” Mike said I should run him back in the Preakness or the Belmont.”

Dale Romans, trainer of J Boys Echo (15th) -- "He just had an awfully rough trip. I came back to the barn to check on him and he seems to be walking fine."

Keith Desormeaux, trainer of Sonneteer (16th) – "He obviously didn't like the track because Kent was having to ride him the whole way. He usually takes a hold and relaxes, but today Kent had to ask him and that tells me he didn't like the track. That simple."

Mike Maker, trainer of Fast and Accurate (17th) -- “All is well. Not good enough.”

Doug O’Neill, trainer of Irap (18th) – “Disappointing. Mario said he didn’t handle the track at all. We’ll have to talk to Mr. Reddam, but I don’t think it is likely we will go on to Maryland.”

Dr. Keith Latson, AAEP On Call Veterinarian on Thunder Snow (DNF) -- “Thunder Snow galloped back to the paddock comfortably under his own power. He was examined by Dr. Jennifer Kaak and was found to have no injuries and walked back to his barn under his own power.”


John Velazquez, rider of Always Dreaming (1st) – “This is the best horse Todd and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with. Nothing against all the others, but this was the best horse. I got a good position with him early and then he relaxed. When we hit the quarter pole, I asked him and he responded. He did it himself from there.”

Corey Lanerie, rider of Lookin At Lee (2nd) – “My horse ran great. I’m caught with seconditis – second in the Preakness and now second in the Derby. I’m still very happy.”

Flavien Prat, rider of Battle of Midway (3rd) – “We got a good trip. He broke well from the track, took me right there. He ran a huge race. He gave me everything he had.”

Julien Leparoux, rider of Classic Empire (4th) – “We got bumped around really hard at the start which put us in a very tough position early. He really only had one race before this, but we’ll get them next time.”

Joel Rosario, rider of Practical Joke (5th) -- “Going into the final turn I thought we were in a great spot but turning for home my horse just stayed in the same spot.”

Jose Ortiz, rider of Tapwrit (6th) -- “In the beginning the 17 hole (Irish War Cry) came over on me. I got in good position behind Classic Empire but he didn’t respond today.”

Javier Castellano, rider of Gunnevera, (7th) – “I didn’t think he handled the track at all. In the beginning, he was holding it together, but when asked him for speed and to pick it up, he struggled quite a bit. It was disappointing.”

Brian Hernandez Jr., rider of McCraken (8th) – “We got knocked around a little bit leaving there but from that point on we had a pretty uneventful trip. Turning for home we just weren’t on the best horse today.”

Victor Espinoza, rider of Gormley (9th) – “I had a great trip, but not enough horse.  He never really picked up the bridle.”

Rajiv Maragh, rider of Irish War Cry (10th) – “My trip was ideal, what I was hoping for.  He broke well out of the gate and got a good position. He relaxed beautifully off the pace. Going into the turn, I seemingly had a lot of horse. I was ready to engage the five horse, he just kind of quit running on me.”

Florent Geroux, rider of Hence (11th) – “I just couldn’t keep up. I was trying to follow Lookin at Lee but I could never catch up.”

Ricardo Santana Jr., rider of Untrapped (12th) – “It’s a tough trip but it’s the Derby. I wish we could’ve gotten a better trip.”

Mike Smith, rider of Girvin (13th) – “He felt OK but he was struggling with the racetrack early on. He was getting knocked around so many times and the poor guy just never had a shot inside. I felt like I was in the one hole. I finally get him running at the three-eighths pole and someone wiped out four of us again. The shot was over then.”

Tyler Gaffalione, rider of Patch (14th) – “We had a good trip. We came into the stretch and got behind a couple of tiring horses, but he came back well and move on to the next race.”

Luis Saez, rider of J Boys Echo (15th) – “Everybody came from the outside and killed us. I tried to rush him and see what we got, but by the half-mile everybody’s gone.”

Kent Desormeaux, rider of Sonneteer (16th) – “I had no horse. I had no horse, never had a chance.”

Channing Hill, rider of Fast and Accurate (17th) – “He ran good and he ran his race. We wanted to make the lead but we weren’t fast enough. I thought I has a shot early on but not able to quicken him.”

Mario Gutierrez, rider of Irap (18th) – “I was in a great spot going around the turn and on the backstretch. I was following the speed and my horse was moving well. Once I asked him to respond he flattened out.”

Jose Lezcano, rider of State of Honor (19th) – “I think my horse didn’t like the sloppy track. He broke good, I put him in a good position and let him go a little early. He stopped early but I think he can go longer.”

Christophe Soumillon, rider of Thunder Snow (DNF) -- “I don’t know what happened at the start.”



JOHN ASHER:  Dr. Keith Latson with the American Association of Equine Practitioners is good enough to come do this as he did have an episode ‑‑ I don't know a better way to put it ‑‑ involving a horse in the race, Thunder Snow, No. 2. Broke poorly. Basically, didn't contest the race after that. We brought Dr. Latson around to explain what happened as far as we know. Doctor, thank you for being here.

DR. LATSON:  As far as we know, you're right. He didn't break well. He was picked up immediately by the outrider and galloped very, very comfortably back to the paddock where he was examined by Dr. Jennifer Kaak. She found no injuries on the legs. So the horse was allowed to walk back to the barn under his own power, and he did so comfortably.

JOHN ASHER:  That's what happens with 170,000 people. Dr. Latson is our on‑call practitioner for the AAP.

Kentucky Derby 143 and the victorious Always Dreaming. (Applause)

JOHN ASHER:  And Todd Pletcher, his second Kentucky Derby.

We were talking in the paddock a couple days ago. And you had your horse out there, Always Dreaming. And you were looking at him. And you said, "I'm a little concerned. He was active in the morning. I think, if he's on his race, we might see something really special." And it worked out, didn't it?

TODD PLETCHER:  It did. There were a few anxious moments earlier in the week. For whatever reason, he was ready to run upon arrival. He had trained brilliantly all winter. Mr. Bonomo, Mr. Viola, and all of us had talked about a game plan a long time ago back before we decided to run him in a main race in Tampa. It wasn't like we were going there because we were cherry picking a spot. We were going there with a plan of, hopefully, ending up here. As you know in this business, sometimes it works out. A lot of times it doesn't. So when you kind of have a vision four or five months in advance, then it all comes together, it's especially rewarding.

JOHN ASHER:  He was never a secret. You look at the past performances. He was a favorite or close to it in every start. But lost those first couple. At what point did you feel he took the step that sent him in this direction?

TODD PLETCHER:  We actually ‑‑ when Mr. Viola and Mr. Bonomo went partners, this horse was part of the package they had put together. We picked the horse up right at the beginning of September and decided, after we all talked about it, that a little freshening would be good for him. So Jim Crupi who had prepared the colt as a yearling, we sent him back to him. He gave him some time off. It paid off. When he sent him back to us, he was in great form, looked fantastic. We could see right away, as soon as we were breezing him, that he had extra special talent.

From that point on, it literally everything went exactly like we wanted to until we got here. And he was just super aggressive and way more forward in the morning's gallop, much stronger. So we got the big breeze in. Johnny breezed him a week ago yesterday. And he did what I see a number of horses that run well in the Derby do. He put in a huge workout and gallop out. And we were excited. He came out of it so well. He was aggressive every morning and made a couple of equipment changes and exercise rider change and that seemed to help. We also felt like he was setting on go when ‑‑ almost to the point our main focus was just trying to deliver it at 6:45 on Saturday and not 6:45 on Thursday morning.

JOHN ASHER:  Can you talk a little bit about ‑‑ it's your second win, ironically both on wet tracks here. But how does this one at this point ‑‑ I know it's all awfully fresh in the rearview mirror ‑‑ compare to that first one?

TODD PLETCHER:  Well, I mean, our Derby record has been talked about a lot. And like we talked about, I felt like about the first 25 starters I had to defend my Derby record. I felt like this week people were defending it for me for some reason.

You know, when you look at it now, we have been here ‑‑ I think this was our 17th Derby. To be fortunate enough to have two wins in two seconds and I think three thirds, it looked a little better. To me, it felt like I really needed that second one, you know? One more. And the first one was extra special. I have a tremendous respect for the race, tremendous respect for how difficult it is to win.

But I felt like we needed another one as a team to put it together. And I felt like Johnny and I needed one together as well. (Applause.)

We have had a great relationship for a long time now, and we have won a lot of races together. This one we hadn't, and this is the one we wanted to win together. And I'm glad we could do it.

JOHN ASHER:  He has been essentially been introduced, but John Velazquez has joined us now after two Kentucky Derby wins. Winning today on Always Dreaming. Talk about your thoughts from the gate on this guy. You knew he was doing well coming in.

JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  Out of the gate we didn't have any trouble. The first step, I wasn't too happy with. The second step I had to ask him to break. And he got into a good rhythm right away. Once I was going forward, for the first time, I was happy where I was. And so the other horse, obviously, showed some speed. So I let him go into the first turn. I eased away from him. On the back stretch, I took a hold of him. And, as soon as I got it in the back stretch, he was going really comfortable.

The horses just out of ‑‑ kind of going a little sooner than I expected in the back stretch, but he was going really well. That's all I did, just waiting for the competition. They were pressing a little bit. After that, the quarter poll, when I asked him, he switched the lead and got down. And he started running really nice. I was very happy when he switched down. And I felt the way he was running, I said, "They will have to run really fast to get him," because he was going definitely.

JOHN ASHER:  Were you concerned ‑‑ Todd had mentioned earlier, when he first got here, he was pretty active in the morning and then settled right down.

JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  We watched him. Todd and I talked about it. Once I worked him, he worked really good. I was very impressed the way he worked. The way the horses came in prior Derbies and the way he worked out, he was really impressed. After that, he was fresh. I asked Todd, "How was my horse?" And he was, like "He's ready to run." And I was happy with that. That's what I needed to hear.

JOHN ASHER:  Can you talk about the winning moment with Todd?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  Very special. Todd mentioned earlier that we had won important races. But winning this one is definitely a big one. And I really think being behind me for 24 years together, something like that, a long time for him to still trust in me and give me the opportunity, it's not very often it happens in this business.

JOHN ASHER:  These two gentlemen (Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez) had the experience of winning at Kentucky Derby before today. Mr. Viola, Mr. Bonomo have not until now. But you are Kentucky Derby winners. Can you talk about the experience and what this day means to you?

ANTHONY BONOMO:  Well, you know, growing up as kids, we've won a lot of Kentucky Derbies, but never in reality. (Laughter.)

You know, I think we just knew, when we got together, something special was going to happen. And then, you know, Johnny and Todd have been great. And the horse has been super. And it's been a family affair. Look at that over there.

We have so many people to thank, because there's so many people that were involved in this. Jim Crupi and his farm broke the horse. The guys who picked him out, Steve Young, Chris brothers, my son who overspent, who I really, really love now.

You know, it's just been a family affair for both of us. And so to be sitting up here, as I said, it's been done thousands of times I know in my mind. But to have it in reality, it's amazing.

VINCENT VIOLA:  Someone asked me on the way in, is this the greatest feeling you have ever had? And I said yes. And he said, the best? Well, besides the birth of my children and meeting my wife.

But for me, Anthony and I, I think, represent everybody who went to the racetrack for the first time with their dads and were just astonished by the brilliance of these athletes, these equine athletes. Never fell out of love with the sport.

And to sit up here, we have to say, really, we are two kids still in our heart from Brooklyn, New York, Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, who always dreamed. And this is one of the dreams to come true.

And I want to make sure I take the time to thank Todd and Johnny and Jimmy Crupi who broke this horse and really, really put this horse into shape that it needed to be to go back to Todd and win. So thank you, Jimmy.

And very blessed that Anthony and Mary Ellen allowed my family to join in the partnership of this horse. We want to thank you all. And all I can say is, go Dreaming!

JOHN ASHER:  Just talk about how the relationship came about, the ownership relationship.

VINCENT VIOLA:  I'll take this one. I know Anthony since I was maybe 9 or 10. He was maybe 7 or 8. And he's always been a larger‑than‑life champion guy. Didn't matter if it was stick ball or punch ball, he was always going to fight until he won. And there's a long story about how we reacquainted when I was a cadet at West Point and he was pitching for Saint John's. I will let him tell that story at another time.

I don't know. It was just a natural ‑‑ when I decided to get back into horse racing, I called him and said, "What do you think I should do?" He said, "Get off the phone and call Jimmy Crupi." The rest is history. That's my take.

Always thought he was a champion as a kid, and we have always got along very well naturally. And I think it's typical of our neighborhood.

ANTHONY BONOMO:  I just love seeing him in that West Point uniform. He actually represented everything I wasn't.  Orderly, disciplined. I wasn't.

But, even when we don't speak, we do speak. And our wives and kids get along so well together. So it was pandemonium once Dreaming went ‑‑ I don't even know who was on my back, who was on your back.

But, you know, for me, it's just a dream. And my wife picked out the greatest name. How do you pick out a name, attach it to a horse and this happens? You know, it's ‑‑ you can use the word "destiny," whatever you want to say. We have been fortunate. The rest is now up to Todd where we're going. It's amazing.

JOHN ASHER:  Just one more quick question because there may have never been a better name of a Kentucky Derby horse than this name. What was the inspiration?

ANTHONY BONOMO:  You got to ask her. It wasn't mine. It was my wife's. What was the inspiration?

MARY ELLEN BONOMO:  I just always daydreamed ‑‑ I probably daydream a little too much. I kind of live in Xanadu sometimes. And I said, "Why don't we just name it Dreaming?" Everybody dreams of something whether it's a big event or special day, the birth of their child, winning the Kentucky Derby. So I just said, Always Dreaming. It just took off. And now I said, when this horse has its first baby, we will name it Keep on Dreaming. We're overwhelmed. It's just a great day.

Q. Todd, you have won $60 million more than any other trainer. And, yet, you felt like you needed this for validation. Is that the case? And do you feel relieved or joy or both or what right now?

TODD PLETCHER:  A little bit of everything. I don't know if validation ‑‑ I don't think I'm any better trainer right now than I was an hour ago. I felt like another one would solidify it. Been taking a lot of criticism for our Derby record, so we were hoping to improve on that. That's what you do. That's what I try to inspire my kids with, that you can have challenges and you are not always going to do as well as you want, but you got to get up and work hard at it and you got to keep trying. When it doesn't work, figure out why and keep going.

So I thought this one ‑‑ I was hoping there was another one and thankful that there was.

Q. Johnny, did you ‑‑ taking him just off the lead, was there any trouble keeping him where you wanted him? Did he show any signs that he wanted to take off? Just how much control over it ‑‑ how much were you and the horse in sync?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  Once I got the position I wanted, I was comfortable where I was. I didn't want to be ‑‑ obviously, he wanted to take the lead. It made it easy for me to get back from behind him and get into the clear instead of being down in there. Once I got him to the outside, he relaxed really well. Before they came to me in the back stretch and he got into the bridle, pass the horse that was in the lead, I went right back to the rail. And I held him together whatever he was comfortable. He was doing it really well. And he was taking me, and he had a nice rhythm. He had a good hold with me. After that, it was pretty easy.

Q. Vinny mentioned going to the track when you were kids. I assume it was Aqueduct and Belmont. Can you talk about going to the races with your dad when you were a kid and how that led to your lifetime in it?

VINCENT VIOLA:  Briefly, just magical being next to your dad as he was really committed to a sport he loved. And my dad handicapped and bet, quite frankly, every day of his life.

And I remember so distinctly the crowds, Saturday afternoon crowds. And I remember distinctly that the men would respect each other because they would fold their newspapers and put them in the seams of the seat. As a young man, I thought, wow, that's really cool. These guys are pretty impressive men at the track.

I tell the story my dad taught me about betting, because he let me stand in front of the tote board. And I had to tell him what numbers moved while he was gone. It wasn't until I was much older I realized he was going to get a shot of Scotch in the bar, but that's a whole other story. (Laughter.)

ANTHONY BONOMO:  My dad used to like to watch the race. We didn't go as much as we would like because he worked so much in the day. He was a laborer, a bricklayer. Where I really got into it is when I met my wife. Her dad, who, unfortunately, isn't here anymore, but he loved racing and just loved being at the barn. So to a large degree he was here today. I think they were all riding that horse with Johnny. I don't know if you felt any extra weight. I used to have some great times with my father‑in‑law. And, you know, the inspiration came from him loving it and then my wife loving it. I wasn't much of a big fan. I used to like to sneak into a track occasionally with him, and we would have $3 between us. And we would beg some older man to put a bet on it for us. He said, "How old are you?" I would say, "24." It is surreal.

This race, I have played the race in my mind all week, and it came out the way I was dreaming about it. But until today, well, I guess dreams do come true.


Q. I have heard you describe that race all week. I notice you keep looking at the replay, but you also keep looking at your phone and probably hearing from back home. What do you anticipate the reception in Brooklyn will be when you go back?

ANTHONY BONOMO:  I was looking, because I didn't know your phone could store 267 messages.


And I'm trying to figure out how the hell am I going to return all these? But I begged Vinny on the way over to have a party at the restaurant that he's paying for. So all these messages maybe we can return them in person, because that's what our neighborhood is about.

They carry you in times like this that are great. But, more importantly, when they are not as great is when you really know the value that your friends are friends forever. So we are thrilled about it.

Q. Are you, in fact, now undefeated with the goatee, and do you plan on keeping it throughout the Triple Crown season?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  Keep it, Todd. Keep it.

TODD PLETCHER:  I can assure you I'm not undefeated. There has been plenty of losers since I have grown it. But I think I will have a tough time shaving it now.

Q. Todd, you are saying how your horse was pretty excitable in the mornings, so it's kind of hard to get him to relax. How did you manage to go about that? And were you concerned that maybe he had run his race a few days before he actually ran it?

TODD PLETCHER:  Well, my biggest concern was I wasn't completely sure why, because the horse had galloped on a daily basis exceptionally well all winter. You know, he was into his training, but he wasn't rank like he was when he first got here. And it was literally the first day. You could see a difference in his personality.

We had shipped him to Gulfstream twice to run, and we shipped him to Tampa,  although he didn't train at Tampa. Both times we shipped to Gulfstream before the Allowance race and the Florida Derby, we shipped him over a couple days early because I wanted to school him in the paddock. And we left him at Gulfstream from our home base of Palm Beach Downs. And he galloped nicely there. I didn't anticipate he would be any different here. And he shipped in before, you know, I would say it gets real crazy around here. The last couple of days leading up to it, Wednesday and Thursday, I think, are especially highly attended, a little bit hectic training hours and a lot of people on the backside. You can almost sometimes having trouble getting to the track.

It wasn't that. I think he really came in here and he knew it was game time, and he was ready to go. So our challenge was keeping him on the ground for ten days. And he galloped twice before Johnny breezed him on Friday and decided not to give him a day off because he wanted him to, hopefully, calm him down off the breeze.

And the first day he was pretty good. The second day he was too strong. And that's when we decided to make the equipment change, put the draw reins on and switch exercise riders. And ‑‑ Nick Bush did a heck of a job. Adele (Bellenger) did a heck of a job galloping him all winter. I can tell you, I was nervous watching him gallop. Because he was so ready to go, that I just felt like if he ever built up ahead of steam, he was going to go. We were trying to keep him relaxed. I felt really good when he paddock schooled him this week. Tuesday he was good. Wednesday he came over. And we couldn't ask him to behave any better than he did. He was perfectly calm and relaxed. And felt much better after I saw that.

Of course, the weather all week has been crazy. And so you worry about all those things and what you're going to do with the rain and the track is sloppy.

But the most important thing is to bring the best horse to the Derby, and I think that's what we were able to do this year.

Q. Todd, continuing along the changes you made leading up to the Derby with the equipment and with the exercise rider, have you done that before leading into a big race? Is that at all like a calculated risk?

TODD PLETCHER:  Well, I mean, we have to make adjustments all the time in training. That's what we do. And I think ‑‑ I don't recall having to do it in a high‑profile situation. Certainly not with the likely Derby favorite. Never had to do it like that.

You know, part of what we do as trainers is we observe how things are going with the horse, how they're galloping. And sometimes we'll make adjustments. Sometimes we'll make equipment adjustments. Sometimes we will have to make rider adjustments. But the focus is always to do what's best for the horse. It was clear that we needed to make a few adjustments to get it right. And, thankfully, we did.

Q. Todd, continuing on that, with the draw reins, what were you trying to accomplish? And how important did that turn out to be?

TODD PLETCHER:  I don't think we were going to get to the race in as good a shape as we did without them. He was just ‑‑ he's an intelligent colt. And, you know, he was aggressive. He was wanting to run. The rider tried to restrain him, and he put his head up in the air to break the rider's hold. We felt the draw reins would control him better, bring his head down, give the rider better control. The main thing is I wanted to control the pace of his gallops. He was, essentially, wanting to run the race in the morning, and we couldn't do that.

It paid off. I think it was a big part of why he was successful today. We're thankful we did it. Glad it paid off.

Q. (Question and answer by Johnny Velazquez in Spanish.)

JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  I can say it faster in English. The question was how I felt winning my second Derby. To tell you the truth, it's not just winning the second Derby. It's like you still have the feeling looking for the next Derby. Todd had one before. And, obviously, you come back to the Derby looking for another one. You are always hungry for it.

And missing it with Todd, basically, it was missing it. And winning with him is special. With the owners as well. They have been really good to us.

Part of the question was what about the track. We didn't know anything about the track and how he was going to handle it. He has never run on the sloppy track. And I said to him, it didn't seem like it bothered him. He seemed to love the track. I loved the way he ran.

Q. In a race that has just an unpredictable history with 50‑1 Giacomo and 20‑horse fields, why do favorites on the run that they're on in the last five or six years, the favorites performing that well in such a big race where so many factors are in front of you?

TODD PLETCHER:  John, how many years has this been ‑‑

JOHN ASHER:  Five straight favorites.

TODD PLETCHER:  How many years have they rechanged the point system?

JOHN ASHER:  Five years.

TODD PLETCHER:  I mean, I wouldn't be positive that that's the reason. But, I mean, I think evidence would suggest that could have some influence. I know that it's likely to have some pace influence on the race when graded stakes earnings at six and seven furlongs aren't awarded points for the Kentucky Derby. So I think there could be a role in that.

Everyone wants to analyze short‑term trends in racing. And I think, when you look at it over a longer period of time, who knows, the next five might be 40‑1 or higher.

But I think you could make a case that these races are a little more honestly run with the point system. And it gives the better horses the best chance to get in and, you know, maybe not deal with strictly a sprinter to set up the early part of the race.

And I think during that five years you have seen horses come from all kinds of different positions in the race to do well. I would say that's a little bit to do with it.

Q. Todd, you have had a lot of success not coming to Baltimore and waiting for the Belmont. Do you anticipate definitely running in the Preakness? If it plays out that way, do you think the horse is well‑suited to do the three in five weeks?

TODD PLETCHER:  My initial impression is he finished the race great. He galloped out well. He came back to the winner's enclosure and seemed like he caught his breath pretty quickly. And I've gotten texts from the barn that he's back there already in good shape and looks well.

So, you know, I think, if he's doing well, we're going to go to Baltimore. I don't think I'll have to twist anybody's arm on the other side of the table here to do that. We'll hope.

Q. Can you just describe what it's like to work with Todd as the trainer of your horses? And, also, for Todd, what time would be a good time for media to come to your barn tomorrow?

ANTHONY BONOMO:  I think it's terrific to work with Todd. He is the consummate professional. He's business. But he has a personality that, until you really get to know him, he's just a gentleman. Forget about his talent with horses. But, as a human being, he's great. You can ask him anything you want even when he probably doesn't want us to ask him anything, because I know we're probably annoying Italians.

He's wonderful. He's professional. He does what he has to do. He has that game face on, and that goatee that's going to last for a long time. (Laughter.) It's just been fantastic. He's just the best.

VINCENT VIOLA:  He's a superstar. He's a superstar.

Q. Todd, that decision you made about Fountain of Youth when you said you wanted him to have more foundation, more education, where does that fit in the context of this? That was just two months ago.

TODD PLETCHER:  It was part of the game plan that we had discussed. You know, the one thing that we wanted to do was have the horse peak today, not in the Florida Derby or not in the Fountain of Youth. There was some risk with that plan. Because by not going in the Fountain of Youth, he had no points at that stage of his career.

But we felt like we were all comfortable taking our best shot at the Florida Derby as his only point‑eligible prep.  And we all were comfortable with the fact that if something happened and he didn't earn enough points, that we were willing to live with that decision.

Biggest concern, honestly, after the Allowance race that we decided to go in on Fountain of Youth day was that he won so easily and the fractions were so slow, we were a little bit concerned that maybe he didn't get enough out of it. And really, when Johnny and I were talking about race strategy prior to that race, we were hoping that maybe we could have him sit behind a couple horses and educate him and move forward. As it worked out, first of all, it was a very slow track that day. And so the fractions are probably a little bit deceptive.

He, basically, won so easily that Johnny asked him to finish up the last 1/8 of a mile and gallop out. But it was more or less an afternoon workout.

So it seemed to do fine for him once we got to the Florida Derby. And he showed us that he could handle multiple different types of tracks. The day he won the Allowance race at Gulfstream, I would have considered the slowest track Gulfstream had this meet. And I would say the Florida Derby day was arguably the fastest.

But any time you have a 3‑year‑old break 148 April 1st, it's pretty special. And I think his time that day in the Florida Derby, even though the track was fast, was the fastest Florida Derby since Alydar and did it the right way, finished up great.

We were pretty high on him from the very beginning. But he kept showing us over and over again every breeze this winter, every race we ran him, he just ‑‑ he was special every time.

Q. Todd, interested in the opposite end of the dynamics. Somebody asked earlier what it's like for them working with you. I wonder what it's like for you working with this ownership team.

And for, Johnny, I wouldn't say you are not the most demonstrative jockey. But to see a celebration like that from you is a little different. Just wonder what's going on inside here and up here during those final strides?

JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  Obviously, like I said before, he's still hungry. I'm not getting any younger. Let's put it that way. Winning it with Todd, it was very special. Like I said, with the owners, very special. Not getting any younger. The feeling that you get is actually you are hungry, you are still here, you still have it. Get an opportunity to ride a horse like this, I guess you got to enjoy it.

TODD PLETCHER:  One of the great things about being a trainer is you get to deal with some really smart people and some really successful people. And these guys have been very successful in their lives.

And so, you know, when you get an opportunity to learn from those guys and then communicate with them, we had some really positive discussions about what we thought the horse could potentially do and some good discussions about what the game plan was. And, like I said, that they were willing to take a shot at letting us bring the horse along, develop him the way we wanted to, and not be tempted by some of the earlier stake races and comfortable with taking, you know, a shot at the Florida Derby.

So it's great when you have a good line of communication and you are on the same page and you have the same goals. So it's been a pleasure for us and our whole team to work with all of them.

JOHN ASHER:  Along with the joy of winning Kentucky Derby and taking some roses home, Todd also gets a large Dodge Ram truck as the winning trainer.


TODD PLETCHER:  I will definitely take the truck, because it has significant sentimental meaning to me to do that. But I'd like to donate the value of the truck to Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and New Vocations.

Very important cause for us to take care of our retired race horses. And so, like I said, I want to keep the truck. But I'm happy to make that donation.






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