He faced no drama the rest of the way, keeping his lead, adding three-quarters of a length to it by the finish and besting a couple of long shots, second-place Lookin At Lee and third-place Battle Of Midway, with the once-favored Classic Empire in fourth. If he can win in Baltimore, he'll give his Brooklyn born-and-bred owners the thrill of a lifetime, going for the Triple Crown in front of their home crowd in NY.
It was the second Derby triumph for jockey John Velazquez, Pletcher's top rider. But the wise guys always talked about Pletcher's 44 beaten Derby horses more than the one he won with Super Saver seven years ago.
"I'm definitely proud of Lee", Asmussen said.
"For whatever reason he was ready to run on arrival", Pletcher said.
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Prices from the 2017 Kentucky Derby, won by Always Dreaming! Rest easier, knowing that predictability reigns as the Kentucky Derby embraced sure things over surprise - again. Some have not only their favorite picked out at Will Rogers Downs but also who they're rooting for in the 143rd Kentucky Derby. From there it was clear that the dark bay colt was not going to be beaten. On their own, they were a combined 2 for 63 coming into America's greatest horse race.
"We've been doing that for about six years now, and it gets bigger and better every year", Starr said.
"I think this is even more special than the first (Derby win)", Pletcher told NBC Sports.
For context of the great career whoosh of Always Dreaming, the latest Kentucky Derby victor, consider that his first win came January 25, later than any horse who ultimately would become draped in roses since Brokers Tip in 1933, who was the only horse to break his maiden in the Derby. Irish War Cry, who went off as the second choice, faded to 10th.
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The Derby is his second major victory of the year.
In the run-up to the race, Classic Empire was tabbed as the morning line favorite and given 4-1 odds.
"To me, it represents everybody who went to the racetrack for the first time with their dads and were just astonished by the brilliance of these equine athletes and fell in love with the sport", Vincent Viola said. "When this horse has its first baby, we're going to name it Keep On Dreaming".
Velazquez and Always Dreaming fired out of the gate and sailed along the sodden track as if riding the tide. "I thought we had a big shot when we were turning for home". Altogether, he's had 48 runners, tying mentor D. Wayne Lukas for the most in Derby history.
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The son of 2012 Arkansas Derby victor Bodemeister arrived in Louisville after a big victory in the Florida Derby and timed workouts that hearkened back to the most recent big horses - American Pharoah and California Chrome. His position in the starting gate aside, Irish War Cry was impressive earlier this season with wins in the Holy Bull and Wood Memorial races.