Always Dreaming was hugely impressive in winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby on Saturday as he became the fifth consecutive favourite to triumph at Churchill Downs in the Run for the Roses.
The Todd Pletcher trainee looked comfortable from the off, and when pressured going into the final straight, the colt responded by moving away from the field in the final furlong of a sloppy track, per NBC Sports:
Outsider Lookin At Lee took a fine second place, but jockey John Velazquez was barely challenged as he steered Always Dreaming to victory.
Here are the full results:
|2017 Kentucky Derby Results|
|1||Always Dreaming||John R. Velazquez||Todd A. Pletcher||-|
|2||Lookin At Lee||Corey Lanerie||Steven M. Asmussen||2 3/4|
|3||Battle of Midway||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer||7 3/4|
|4||Classic Empire||Julien R. Leparoux||Mark E. Casse||8 3/4|
|5||Practical Joke||Joel Rosario||Chad C. Brown||9 1/2|
|6||Tapwrit||Jose L. Ortiz||Todd A. Pletcher||10 1/4|
|7||Gunnevera||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano||13 1/4|
|8||McCraken||Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr.||Ian R. Wilkes||13 1/4|
|9||Gormley||Victor Espinoza||John A. Shirreffs||14 1/4|
|10||Irish War Cry||Rajiv Maragh||H. Graham Motion||16 1/2|
|11||Hence||Florent Geroux||Steven M. Asmussen||18 1/2|
|12||Untrapped||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steven M. Asmussen||19 1/4|
|13||Girvin||Mike E. Smith||Joe Sharp||19 1/4|
|14||Patch||Tyler Gaffalione||Todd A. Pletcher||20 3/4|
|15||J Boys Echo||Robby Albarado||Dale L. Romans||22 3/4|
|16||Sonneteer||J. Keith Desormeaux||Kent J. Desormeaux||26|
|17||Fast and Accurate||Channing Hill||Michael J. Maker||28 1/2|
|18||Irap||Mario Gutierrez||Doug F. O'Neill||40 1/2|
|19||State of Honor||Jose Lezcano||Mark E. Casse||45 1/2|
|20||Thunder Snow||Christophe Soumillon||Saeed bin Suroor||DNF|
Now the focus turns to the second leg of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Maryland on May 20.
American Pharoah ended the 37-year wait for the 12th Triple Crown winner as he prevailed in the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes back in 2015.
It is not out of the question that Always Dreaming could become the 13th to go down in history just two years on.
For USA Today's Dan Wolken, Always Dreaming is a "legitimate contender" for the gong. He added on Twitter that the likelihood of him heading to the Belmont Stakes in June having bagged two of the three jewels is high:
Given the Preakness is shorter than the Kentucky Derby—9 ½ furlongs as opposed to 10—it is not a stretch to imagine Always Dreaming has the pace to blitz the field as he did at Churchill Downs.
However, as has so often been the case with Triple Crown bids, he could come unstuck over 12 furlongs at the Belmont.
Between Affirmed's Triple Crown triumph in 1978 and American Pharoah breaking the almost-40-year duck in 2015, 13 horses won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before failing to complete the treble at the Belmont Stakes.
The same fate could well befall Always Dreaming. A Preakness win seems very likely as Always Dreaming will be facing a smaller, perhaps weaker, field than the Derby and should go off as the strong favourite.
However, the gruelling nature of the intense Triple Crown schedule and the extra distance at the Belmont are likely to see Always Dreaming fail in the bid for the Triple Crown.