143rd Running Of The Kentucky Derby

Always Dreaming earned his fourth straight victory, proving that his five-length win in the Florida Derby was no fluke.

Always Dreaming, ridden by John Velazquez, finished first in the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Louisville's Churchill Downs. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, John has competed in thoroughbred horse races like Breeders' Cup and Triple Crow after being admitted to the Horse Racing Hall Of Fame in 2002.

Churchill Downs officials say attendance for the Kentucky Derby was 158,070.

The victor was ridden by jockey John Velazquez, who also rode Animal Kingdom to a win at the 2011 Derby.

Thundersnow foundered at the race start and other favorites didn't make it to the head of the pack at all, but Always Dreaming led from the beginning and for the majority of the race.

The dark bay colt was hard to train in the days leading to the Derby, forcing Pletcher to adjust his equipment.

He was followed across the finish line by a pair of longshots: 33-1 Lookin At Lee and 40-1 Battle of Midway.

Always Dreaming ran 1 ¼ miles in 2:03.59 and paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80. 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.

Going into his 17th Derby, Pletcher saddled the post-time favorite for the first time. "The second I had to ask him to straighten up and once I got under the wire for the first time, I was happy where I was".

The rains cleared away in time for the main event, but the track was as sloppy as ever, splashing up in the jockeys' faces. Always Dreaming won handily, proving the less-than-enthusiastic bettors cheering for Classic Empire, Irish War Cry, and McCraken were wrong. He broke poorly out of the starting gate and began bucking.

  • Salvatore Jensen