The 143 Kentucky Derby is restricted to only 20 Kentucky Derby runners and will run on Saturday, May 6, 2017, for the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Here is the latest look at Always Dreaming, one of the contenders for the 2017 Kentucky Derby to be run at Churchill Downs.
Owners: Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Teresa Viola Racing Stables
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Pedigree: Bodemeister – Above Perfection, by In Excess
Last Race Result: 1st Place, Florida Derby, 4/1/17
Before Always Dreaming won the Florida Derby, you could have gotten this colt at 66 to 1 at BookMaker.eu. Now all of a sudden, he's being booked at 4 to 1. Obviously, there's a big overlay here, and the odds on Always Dreaming will come down when it's time to head to the track at Churchill Downs the first week of May. That said, the rise this pony has been on has been nothing short of remarkable. This was a colt who was a has been at the end of his two-year old year, one of the many who had great breeding and flat out poor results. But a switch to Todd Pletcher as his trainer and John Velazquez as his jockey has been gold for Always Dreaming, and all of a sudden, he's won his last three races, all of which have come by at least four lengths.
It's not just the fact that Always Dreaming is now always winning. It's that he hasn't looked like he has broken a sweat in any of his races to get to this point either. Will he ultimately be the Derby favorite? We doubt it. But he'll be close.
We really want to like Always Dreaming, and perhaps with a better price on his head at the Kentucky Derby, we will make him a piece of our exotic plays. This Pletcher colt has all of the right looks to him. He's a big horse, is a stalker, clearly has the distance in him to get the mile and a half and shouldn't be intimidated by running against a bigger field in spite of the fact that he's never seen more than 10 ( and never more than five serious contenders ) on the track at the same time.
The best part about Always Dreaming is the fact that he never looks stressed on the track. There are stalkers out there who flat out look like they're exerting themselves to the fullest just to keep up with the pace. Always Dreaming has been able to go wire-to-wire in the past, and he's settled down a couple lengths off the pace with a few horses between he and the lead, and he hasn't looked frazzled in either of those roles.
The problem will come if he gets off to a bad start at the Kentucky Derby. There are obviously at least a half dozen other horses who will ideally like to be sitting in the third to fifth range around the first turn with inside position, and only one or two will actually get there. The best horses find ways to win when they aren't comfortable with the pace in the early going of the races, and that could be what Always Dreaming brings to the table. He's got both good stalking and good early running in his pedigree, and the fact that he was initially sold for $350,000 is a sure sign that he's got the goods to be able to compete at this level.
Always Dreaming has been a favorite everywhere he has gone. The Florida Derby was a bit of an exception to that with Gunnevera running in that race as well, but the bottom line has remained the same. The last two words on his chart in his last three races have read, "ridden out," and that's as good as it gets.
The Pletcher/Velazquez combo has had a lot of success over the years, but the last time Pletcher won a Kentucky Derby was in 2010 with Super Saver, while the last time Velazquez took a pony to the winner's circle on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs was in 2011 with Animal Kingdom. These two have produced a lot of winners together, but they've also produced a lot of horses in the last five years who have had a lot of promise without ultimately putting together the final product. Buyer beware with Always Dreaming for sure.
With a maximum of 20 horses accepted into the Kentucky Derby field, there is a significant vetting process to qualify the horses among this group of three-year olds. A points system is in place to reward winners and other top finishers of the main races leading into the Derby. The Top 20 horses will get the first opportunity to run in the Kentucky Derby, though as horses bow out of the process, the next ones in the standings are given their chances until the field of 20 is set.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby wraps up the second week of April, thus ending a grueling stretch of eight months of qualifying for the top colts in the world. The field won't be finalized until the Kentucky Derby post draw on Wednesday, May 3.
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Below are some of the contenders that will possibly run the day of the race. There are 20 Derby Contenders for the race but these are the most likely ones will be confirmed a place at the event.
|Rank||Horse||Points||Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings||Graded Stakes Earnings||Breeder||Trainer||Owner|
|1||Girvin||150||$840,000||$840,000||Bob Austin & John Witte||Joe Sharp||Brad Grady|
|2||Gormley||125||$884,000||$884,000||Castleton Lyons & Kilboy Estate||John Shirreffs||Moss, Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S.|
|3||Irish War Cry||110||$676,660||$616,660||Isabelle de Tomaso||H. Motion||Isabelle de Tomaso|
|4||Irap||108||$760,000||$738,000||Aaron & Marie Jones||Doug O'Neill||Reddam Racing LLC|
|5||Always Dreaming||100||$589,000||$589,000||Santa Rosa Partners||Todd Pletcher||St Elias, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, Brooklyn Boys, MEB Stables|
|6||Gunnevera||84||$1,137,800||$1,134,200||Brandywine Farm & Stephen Upchurch||Antonio Sano||Peacock Racing Stables, LLC|
|7||Practical Joke||74||$966,000||$966,000||Whispering Oaks||Chad Brown||Klaravich Stables, Inc. and Lawrence, William H.|
|8||J Boys Echo||63||$305,000||$305,000||Betz, Blackburn, J. Betz, Ramsby, CNHHNK||Dale Romans||Albaugh Family Stables LLC|
|9||State of Honor||62||$310,364||$280,000||Manfred Conrad & Penny Conrad||Mark Casse||Conrad Farms|
|10||Mastery||60||$480,000||$480,000||Stone Farm||Bob Baffert||Cheyenne Stables LLC|
|11||Tapwrit||54||$325,570||$280,000||My Meadowview LLC||Todd Pletcher||Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and LaPenta, Robert V.|
|12||Epicharis (JPN)||50||$753,381||$400,000||Masatsugu Kamada||Kiyoshi Hagiwara||Carrot Farm|
|13||Malagacy||50||$540,000||$540,000||John Trumbulovic||Todd Pletcher||Sumaya U.S. Stable|
|14||McCraken||40||$385,048||$335,320||Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC||Ian Wilkes||Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC|
|15||Battle of Midway||40||$224,000||$224,000||Thor-Bred Stables, LLC||Jerry Hollendorfer||Fox Hill Farms, Inc.|
|16||Patch||40||$200,000||$200,000||Calumet Farm||Todd Pletcher||Calumet Farm|
|17||Battalion Runner||40||$140,000||$140,000||Dell Ridge Farm, LLC||Todd Pletcher||St. Elias Stable|
|18||Cloud Computing||40||$135,000||$135,000||Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc & Stretch Run Ventures, LLC||Chad Brown||Klaravich Stables, Inc. and Lawrence, William H.|
|19||Mont Saint Legame (JPN)||40||$0||$0||Kawashima Bokujo||Koji Maki||Shinichi Yamashita|
|20||Untrapped||34||$210,000||$210,000||Indian Creek & Jonathan Sheppard||Steven Asmussen||Michael Langford|
|21||Classic Empire||32||$1,493,820||$1,493,820||Steven Nicholson & Brandi Nicholson||Mark Casse||John C. Oxley|
|22||El Areeb||30||$330,000||$270,000||Dixiana Farms LLC||Cathal Lynch||M M G Stables, LLC|
|23||Royal Mo||30||$213,000||$213,000||Brandywine Farm||John Shirreffs||Moss, Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S.|
|24||Local Hero||30||$140,000||$140,000||Three Chimneys Farm LLC||Steven Asmussen||e Five Racing Thoroughbreds|
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