Kentucky Derby 2017: Race Replay, Highlights Analysis and Prize-Money Info

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2017

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR LONGINES - Always Dreaming, ridden by John Velazquez, wins the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 6, 2017, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Longines, the Swiss watch manufacturer known for its luxury timepieces, is the Official Watch and Timekeeper of the 143rd annual Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Diane Bondareff /AP Images for Longines)
Diane Bondareff/Associated Press

Every horse had to deal with a muddy Kentucky Derby track Saturday. Always Dreaming made it look like nothing.

The three-year-old colt galloped his way to a dominant victory in the first leg of 2017's Triple Crown chase, defeating the field at Churchill Downs by 2 ¾ lengths. Underdogs Lookin At Lee (33-1) and Battle of Midway (40-1) came in second and third place, respectively.

Always Dreaming is the fifth straight favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, a near-unprecedented streak of success in what is usually the year's most unpredictable major event. Opening as the second favorite at 5-1 on the morning line, Always Dreaming closed as the 9-2 favorite as money came pouring in on him as the weekend began.

2017 Kentucky Derby Results/Purse
PositionHorseJockeyTrainerPurse
1Always DreamingJohn R. VelazquezTodd A. Pletcher$1,240,000
2Lookin At LeeCorey LanerieSteven M. Asmussen$400,000
3Battle of MidwayFlavien PratJerry Hollendorfer$200,000
4Classic EmpireJulien R. LeparouxMark E. Casse$100,000
5Practical JokeJoel RosarioChad C. Brown$60,000
6TapwritJose L. OrtizTodd A. Pletcher--
7GunneveraJavier CastellanoAntonio Sano--
8McCrakenBrian Joseph Hernandez Jr.Ian R. Wilkes--
9GormleyVictor EspinozaJohn A. Shirreffs--
10Irish War CryRajiv MaraghH. Graham Motion--
11HenceFlorent GerouxSteven M. Asmussen--
12UntrappedRicardo Santana Jr.Steven M. Asmussen--
13GirvinMike E. SmithJoe Sharp--
14PatchTyler GaffalioneTodd A. Pletcher--
15J Boys EchoRobby AlbaradoDale L. Romans--
16SonneteerJ. Keith DesormeauxKent J. Desormeaux--
17Fast And AccurateChanning HillMichael J. Maker--
18IrapMario GutierrezDoug F. O'Neill--
19State of HonorJose LezcanoMark E. Casse--
20Thunder SnowChristophe SoumillonSaeed bin SuroorDNF
Source: KentuckyDerby.com

Pun totally intended. Always Dreaming became a clear favorite thanks in part to bettors' faith he would be able to navigate inclement weather, which left the track a muddy slop-fest. Jockeyed to near-perfection by John Velazquez, Always Dreaming got to the inside early and never seemed to struggle for a single stride. He worked his way to the front of the field and then never looked back, with Lookin At Lee being the only horse within 7 ¾ lengths.

"This is the best horse Todd and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with," Velazquez said, per John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times. "Nothing against all the others, but this was the best horse. I got a good position early and then he relaxed. When we hit the quarter pole, I asked him and he responded. He did it himself from there."

This is the second Kentucky Derby win for Velazquez, who jockeyed 2011 champion Animal Kingdom. A two-time winner of the Belmont, Velazquez has never won a Preakness and would complete his career Triple Crown should Always Dreaming be victorious in two weeks.

Always Dreaming is also a resume booster for trainer Todd Pletcher, who got his second Derby win after years of coming up just short. Perhaps the busiest trainer in the world, Pletcher matched the all-time record for Derby entrants this year. Always Dreaming joins 2010 winner Super Saver as his only two Derby champions.

"To me, it felt like I really needed that second one, you know? One more," Pletcher said, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. "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."

Pletcher acknowledged that he heard the outside criticism of his record at the Derby.

"Been taking a lot of criticism for our Derby record, so we were hoping to improve on that," Pletcher said. "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 ...

"I was hoping there was another one and thankful there was."

Always Dreaming will now have a two-week wait before racing in the Preakness. He'll look to become the third horse in four years to win each of the first two Triple Crown legs. California Chrome won the first two races before faltering at the Belmont, while American Pharoah went on take the Triple Crown.

Neither Pletcher nor Velazquez has ever won a Preakness Stakes. Given the brilliance their horse showed Saturday, though, they'll be riding a heavy favorite into Maryland.

   

*Race odds via the Kentucky Derby's official website.

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