For a guy still chasing the dream of winning his first Kentucky Derby, a dream deferred for at least another year, trainer Steve Asmussen seemed quite jubilant following Lookin At Lee's second-place finish behind Always Dreaming in the Derby on Saturday.
The skies have cleared just in time for mud hasn't On Saturday, Churchill Downs ushers in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, to kickoff the first race of the Triple Crown horse racing championship.
Further, he had given a second Derby win among 48 starters to Pletcher, the career victor of 4,300 races, 1,000 stakes and $336 million, $60 million more than any other trainer, who yet found validation with this second win, following on Super Saver in 2010.
Nevertheless, the "new shooters" that look probable for the Preakness include: Cloud Computing (third in the Wood Memorial in his last start); Conquest Mo Money (Arkansas Derby runner-up); Multiplier (Illinois Derby winner); Senior Investment (Lexington Stakes winner); and Royal Mo (third in Santa Anita Derby).
The 3-year-old son of Bodemeister splashed home to a 2 3/4-length victory to don the roses bestowed upon the victor of America's most famous race for the 143rd time.
The win raised Always Dreaming's record to four for six with a second and a third, both in first two maiden races under trainer Dominick Schettino.
Though Always Dreaming pressed longshot State of Honor through a very fast half mile of 46.53 seconds, he was moving easily.
"This is the greatest feeling", said Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola, who co-owns the horse with lifelong friend Anthony Bonomo. Second-favorite Irish War Cry was 10th. He paid $11.40 as the 9-2 favorite.More news: Chelsea won't ease up in title race, says Antonio Conte
So local favorite Dale Romans, who literally grew up at Churchill Downs, will have to wait at least another year. Given all the high-priced horse flesh in his barn, it was viewed as a bit of a disappointment that his only Kentucky Derby victory came with Super Saver in 2010. "I don't even know how much he won by". "I mean, he's overcome a lot", trainer Todd Pletcher told NBC. He shot to Kentucky Derby prominence with a dominating, 5-lengths victory in the Florida Derby but had not raced since that event April 1. The Godolphin colt became the 13th horse to run in the UAE Derby to kick on to Churchill Downs, with no horse bettering Master Of Hounds' fifth place in 2011.
"I got a good trip", said Prat.
This year's swarm only predicted two of the four top finishers-Always Dreaming and Classic Empire-and it had the pair in the wrong order. "I played the race in my mind all week and it came out the way I was dreaming about it". Three other one-eyed horses have run in the Kentucky Derby.
"I thought we had a big shot when we turned for home", Pletcher said.
Classic Empire got banged into by McCraken in the start of a chain-reaction collision and his eye was almost closed shut on Sunday.
Added Velasquez, "This is the best horse Todd and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with".
Classic Empire finished fourth, followed by Practical Joke, Tapwrit, Gunnevera, McCraken, Gormley and Irish War Cry. Despite chasing a quick early pace, Always Dreaming was still full of running and no other horses threatened him down the straight.
"I'm proud of him", said Casse, who described Classic Empire as "possible" for the Preakness.