Always Dreaming Has Connections Doing Just That After Florida Derby Win

AlwaysDreaming_LaurenKing_Coglianese

Always Dreaming (photo by Coglianese Photos/LaurenKing).

Brooklyn Boys, Teresa and Vinnie Viola, Siena Farm, West Point Thoroughbreds and St. Elias Stable’s Always Dreaming went from Kentucky Derby (GI) outsider to legit contender in one fell swoop on Saturday with his impressive five-length victory in the $1 million Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park. The bay son of Bodemeister was ridden to victory by trainer Todd Pletcher’s go-to jockey, Hall of Famer John Velazquez, in the nine-furlong test and stopped the clock over the fast track in 1:47.47, slightly more than three ticks off the track record set by Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup (GI) two months ago.

As expected, Three Rules sped to the lead right out of the gate with Always Dreaming allowed to patiently stalk to the outside. Despite bumping hard between horses as he made his way around the first turn, Velazquez was able to relax his mount and sit comfortably behind the pace of :23.28, :47.08 and 1:10.75.

As the frontrunner began to straighten out for the drive, Always Dreaming was nearly on even terms and within a few jumps had taken command while racing out toward the center of the track. Velazquez guided his winning mount over toward the rail as they passed the eighth pole in 1:34.94 and continued on to the wire under a deliberate, if not vigorous, ride.

At odds of more than 5-2, Always Dreaming paid $7.40, $3.80 and $2.60. State of Honor held on to second and was worth $4.80 and $2.80 at odds of 4-1. Gunnevera, who was the even-money favorite, broke poorly from the gate and immediately took a left under Javier Castellano to save ground and then bounced off the rail heading into the first turn, yet closed strongly in the stretch to claim third, 1 ½ lengths behind the runner-up, and returned $2.10. The $2 exacta was good for $39.80 and the $1 trifecta $34.90.

Impressive Edge, Three Rules, Talk Logistics, Coleman Rocky, Unbridled Holiday, Charlie the Greek and Quinientos rounded out the order of finish after Battalion Runner was scratched.

“I think the whole progression and bringing him along slowly really worked,” Pletcher said. “He was training so well, we were optimistic he had this kind of race in him. He was coming up to the race exactly like you want a horse to come into a race like this. The way he ran and the way he galloped out makes me confident he’ll have no problem getting the [1 ¼-mile Derby] distance.

“We’ve gotta have a little luck and have everything go our way for the next five weeks, but it’s a good feeling.”

Always Dreaming, who is now his sire’s first graded stakes winner, was a $350,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, with bloodstock agent Steve Young signing the sales slip. He earned $600,000 for his first graded stakes score to bring his earnings to $648,900 and his line now reads 5-3-1-1. His previous victories came in maiden and first-level allowance company. Santa Rosa Partners bred the son of the In Excess mare Above Perfection, who also produced Grade 1 winner Hot Dixie Chick.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.

She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.

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