Always Dreaming pulls away to win Kentucky Derby

Classic Empire Martin Rivera

Classic Empire Martin Rivera

The following year, Velazquez won his first Derby on Animal Kingdom. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Empire had previously won twice at Churchill Downs, including a debut victory previous year during Derby week, but he had been sidelined with foot and back issues.

He is also the first horse since 1933 to win the Kentucky Derby after not winning his first race until on or after January 25.

Always Dreaming headed to his post as the 9-2 favorite ahead of the likes of Irish War Cry, McCraken and Classic Empire.

Always Dreaming began stretching it out from there to win by 2 3/4 lengths over long shot Lookin At Lee, with Battle of Midway five lengths back.

The 49-year-old trainer and jockey John Velazquez won their second Derbies.

There was a time when the post-time favorite never won the Kentucky Derby. After saddling three runners in Saturday's 143rd edition, Pletcher's total number of starters is now 48, equalling the record of his mentor D Wayne Lukas.

"It's all the more sweet", said Pletcher about winning a second time. Whether it was the sloppy track conditions or something else, the horse wanted no part in competing in the Kentucky Derby.

On the final turn, Always Dreaming took command as State of Honor faded. Despite chasing a quick early pace, Always Dreaming was still full of running and no other horses threatened him down the straight. "I took a hold of him as soon as I got to the backstretch and he was really comfortable".

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"Congratulations to the connections of Always Dreaming on a very impressive performance to win the 143 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum!"

Celebrities of all sorts make it to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby and there was one from the sports world that gave it an Oklahoma State flair, but there was no orange worn by this Cowboy on the first Saturday in May.

He did not finish the race after being corralled nearly immediately by an outrider and jogged along the rail as the other 19 contenders in the race headed into the first turn. At the eighth pole, the only horse running at the leader was Lookin At Lee, who finished a fast-closing fourth to Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby.

Keep an eye out for Cinderella story, Patch, a one-eyed horse. Their Thunder Snow, running in the US for the first time, began bucking like a rodeo bronco soon after the start and was never a factor. He was caught by the outrider and he walked back to the barn on his own.

Attendance on Derby Day was 158,070. The dynamic duo came in first at the Churchill Downs racetrack. The second day, he settled into the change. Earlier, he rode Paulassilverlining to victory in the Humana Distaff. The photo awarded the victory to 6-5 favorite Roca Rojo, her sixth in eight starts. Roca Rojo paid $4.60 to win.

Many of them, however, were long shots.

Jerry Holldorfer, the trainer of Battle Of Midway and a man of few or no words, had this to say about his horse: "I thought our horse gave a nice effort", he said. Tapwrit, 27-1 7. Gunnevera, 10-1 8.

Irish War Cry, the impressive Wood Memorial victor, looked positioned for a terrific charge at the top of the stretch, but flattened out and finished 10th.

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