Always Dreaming, the winner of the 2017 Kentucky Derby, was officially ruled out of this year's Belmont Stakes after failing to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive in the Preakness Stakes.
Alicia Wincze Hughes of BloodHorse passed along the news Friday from Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds. He said the decision to skip the final race of Triple Crown season was a collaborative choice made by the horse's partners and trainer Todd Pletcher.
"Todd ended up conferring with the majority partners (Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo) and I think they just want to take a deep breath with him," Finley said. "There are some really exciting spots for him later in the year. Certainly the big one is the Travers. So that was the thinking—we take a pause here and regroup."
The Associated Press (via the Los Angeles Times) also confirmed the horse's status.
Always Dreaming finished eighth in the Preakness after a fast early pace left him without the finishing kick necessary to conquer Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. New shooter Cloud Computing tracked down Classic Empire to score the upset victory at the finish line.
Aside from the Derby champion's connections, the most disappointed group is probably NBC television executives since the Triple Crown won't be on the line June 10.
Sports Business Daily reported the Preakness ratings reached their lowest level since 2000, and now there are few intriguing storylines as the focus shifts to Belmont Park in New York.
Finley told BloodHorse that Always Dreaming's inability to capture the Preakness doesn't take away from his prior accomplishments, though.
"As my good friend Lynn Whiting said: the Derby never washes off, and that's a very apt way to address it and to look at it," Finley said. "We're never going to let the Derby wash off of us and that's something they're never going to take away from Always Dreaming."
The colt also won the Florida Derby in his only major prep race before stealing the spotlight at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
Looking ahead, the Travers Stakes, which Finley mentioned as a key stop for Always Dreaming, is scheduled for Aug. 26. It's unclear whether the connections will attempt to get him another start before taking on what should be a strong field at Saratoga Race Course.