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Always Dreaming Wins Kentucky Derby.

Always Dreaming, who entered the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby as a 9/2 favorite, won the race Saturday on a sloppy track, but the frontrunner apparently did not mind much, and afterward his owners and trainer could not have been happier with the way the day played out. Ridden by John Velazquez, Always Dreaming looked sharp from the outset and was in peak condition on a sunny day in Louisville, trudging to victory in front of 158,070 at Churchill Downs.

Always Dreaming outran Lookin at Lee by two-and-three-quarter lengths to win the mile-and-a-quarter race in 2 minutes 3.59 seconds. Battle of Midway, who was a 40-1 longshot, finished third. Classic Empire finished fourth.

Always Dreaming got off to a great start, and in the final furlong had a length-and-a-half lead with 1/16th left, to cruise to a big finish. There were questions in the morning about whether Always Dreaming was going to relax, but Velazquez was happy with how he responded and settled on the outside.

It was the second Derby victory for famed trainer Todd Pletcher, who won in 2010 with Super Saver, and the first win for Brooklyn-born owners Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo. 

"It's all the more sweet," said Pletcher about winning a second time. Pletcher admitted to tears under his sunglasses and said the victory was "very special."

"I thought we had a big shot when we turned for home. I was a little worried down the backside. I thought a couple times he wasn't completely in the bridal, but I can tell Johnny was riding him confidently," Pletcher said.

"There's no feeling like this," said Viola, who is the owner of the NHL's Florida Panthers.

Always Dreaming paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80. Lookin at Lee returned $26.60 and $15.20, while Battle of Midway paid $20.80.

Up next for Always Dreaming is the Preakness, which is on May 20, followed by the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:May 7, 2017
Words:336
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