Always Dreaming wins the 143rd Kentucky Derby

Classic Empire Martin Rivera

Classic Empire Martin Rivera AP

The second leg of the Crown has been a relatively common jewel for the Kentucky Derby champion to gather.

Always Dreaming, who became the favorite nearly as soon as the windows opened on the Derby Thursday, has not lost a race since breaking his maiden in his third outing, which was his first try at two turns.

"Always Dreaming came out of it in wonderful fashion, just excellent", winning trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning.

Pletcher admitted to "a few anxious moments" earlier in the week. "Adele's a team player, but the horse was getting too strong for her at this stage. He was aggressive but under control". It wasn't like we were going there because we were cherry picking a spot, we were going there with a plan of hopefully ending up here. "We have had a great relationship for a long time now, and we have won a lot of races together".

Less angry were those who bet on Always Dreaming. State of Honor set the early pace, with Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry near the lead.

It was another five lengths back to Battle of Midway, who followed Always Dreaming around the track on the inside and held on for third. As a result, in the past 72 hours the public moved frontrunners Always Dreaming and Irish War Cry ahead of Classic Empire, a stalker, and McCracken, a come-from-behinder. Irish War Cry threatened on the far turn and to the top of the stretch, but the victor put him away handily.

Pletcher's first victory in the Run for the Roses came in 2010 with Super Saver. "The first was extra special and I have a tremendous respect for how hard it is to win, but we needed another one as a team to put it together".

"I don't see a lot of reason to go on to the Preakness at this point", trainer Graham Motion said. "And, as soon as I got it in the back stretch, he was going really comfortable". Churchill said the reported attendance was the seventh-highest in history for the race. Since Churchill instituted a qualifying points system in 2013, the favorite has won every year: Orb (2013), California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015), Nyquist (2016) and now Always Dreaming. I finally get him running at the 3/8ths pole and someone wiped out four of us again. "It was a really good trip, the kind I dream of and pray for", said Lanerie. Johnny, of course, rode him great.

The other factor was that since the rain started on Thursday, the track has been favoring front-running speed horses and horses that stay down near the rail. "I was so intense following Always Dreaming up front that I never did get a chance to pick them up".

In big money race after big money race, the combination of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez has been powerful across the country for almost two decades.

Jockey John Velazquez in the winner's circle after winning the the Kentucky Derby on May 6, 2017.

"I mean, you can't help but root for him". "I'll talk to the owners, we'll give him a little bit of a breather, and we'll focus on races a little bit shorter than this". "He did it himself from there".

Sent off at 9-2, Always Dreaming made it the fifth straight year that a Derby favourite has won, the longest such sequence since the 1970s.

Anthony Bonomo thinks there must be something wrong with you if you're not smiling. "Growing up as kids, we've won a lot of Kentucky Derbys, but not in reality".

They couldn't go that fast. We are truly kids, in our hearts, from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Always Dreaming, a son of 2012 runner-up Bodemeister, is owned by a six-way partnership. Ironically, Pletcher hasn't raced a horse in the Preakness in the past two years, typically skipping Baltimore for his hometown Belmont Stakes.

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