2017 Kentucky Derby Horse Profile for Always Dreaming

Always DreamingAlways Dreaming gallops at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby

Always Dreaming Career Statistics

Starts: 5

Wins: 3

Places: 1

Shows: 1

Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings: $589,000

Owner: Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Teresa Viola Racing Stables

Trainer: Todd Pletcherr

Jockey: John Velazquez

Pedigree: Bodemeister – Above Perfection, by In Excess

Recent Finish: 1st, Florida Derby, G1 (4/1/17)

Notable Wins: Florida Derby

Always Dreaming

Always Dreaming gallops at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby
(Coady Photography/Churchill Downs)

Always Dreaming History

Always Dreaming is the only Derby horse with two victories at 1 1/8 miles. That includes his most impressive recent win in the Florida Derby in his stakes debut. This is one of the very deserving Derby favorites, yet you could have bet him in the Derby Future Pool 3 at 50-1 prior to his winning the Florida Derby.

He is the strong son of Bodemeister, who did not race at age 2 but finished 2nd behind I’ll Have Another in the 2012 Kentucky Derby as the 4-1 favorite. He led all the way and took a 3-length lead in the stretch before being passed by I’ll Have Another in the final 150 yards. He finished 2nd in the Preakness and just missed by a neck behind I’ll Have Another again. That would be the well-bred, talented colt’s final face, as Bodemeister was diagnosed with nerve damage in his shoulder and retired to stud. Always Dreaming also has Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew along with Derby winner Northern Dancer on his sires side, and his grand sire Empire Maker finished 2nd in the Derby in 2003 and won three Grade 1 races that year including the Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes. Note too that the last four Derby winners had Secretariat on at least one side of their pedigree – an unusual new trend.

He was winless in two starts at age 2, and then Todd Pletcher took over training and he’s been a work in progress. But the potential was shown at age 3 in his 11 ½ length win at Tampa Bay Downs to break his maiden. He was on the improve, and Pletcher stayed patient, bypassing the Fountain of Youth and knowing his late-blooming colt was sitting on a big performance in the Florida Derby. Always Dreaming delivered big as he responded willingly to rider Johnny V’s command and then kicked clear to win by 5-lengths with a strong closing eighth mile.

Some key speed figures and stats for Always Dreaming:

  • Final 3/8ths time in Florida Derby – :36.56 seconds
  • 97 Beyer Speed Figure in Florida Derby, and 123 TimeformUS speed rating for the Florida Derby was fourth fastest of all Derby prep races
  • Final time of 1:47.47 was the fastest in the Florida Derby since Alydar in 1978
  • 7 of the last 25 Derby winners won the Florida Derby – most of any Derby prep race


Horses that are finishing strongly at the end of their prep races are more likely to handle the distance of the Kentucky Derby (1 ¼ miles) than horses that are tiring at the end of their prep races. Thus, many handicappers believe one of the key factors to emphasize is how fast each contender ran the last three-eighths of a mile in their final prep race.

“he posted the second-fastest final-eighth mile time of all Derby horses.”

Always Dreaming ran a final 3/8 mile in 36.56 seconds in his final prep at the Florida Derby. Generally, a final three-eighths time of less than 38 seconds is considered good, and he posted the second-fastest final-eighth mile time of all Derby horses. Of course, these times can be affected by a variety of factors, including the speed of the racetrack and the early pace of the race (it’s easier to finish fast if you’ve gone very slow early on). However, the fact remains that each of the last five Kentucky Derby winners – and 15 of the last 20 – ran the last three-eighths of their final Derby prep race in less than 38 seconds. Ten Derby horses, including Always Dreaming fit that speed figure profile, and his final Florida Derby time of 1:47.47 was faster than both Spectacular Bid (1979) and Big Brown (2008), who both went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Always Dreaming has a Derby name many fans love, but this is not a long shot that fans can dream about hitting a big score. We may shoot for a longer shot or two to complete the exotics, but Always Dreaming is our Derby winner. Despite just one Derby win with 45 starters, trainer Todd Pletcher has a strong contender this year and his late-blooming beauty is well-conditioned and also in good hands with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Always Dreaming is a classy Derby favorite that is a fast horse with push-button acceleration, versatility and beautiful action. His stalking style and late speed should prove best in the Kentucky Derby, and his recent racing, improvement, overall presence and consistently impressive workouts with super gallop-outs suggests he’ll be a strong contender. We feel Always Dreaming will have a say in the final furlong and provide the extra gear when the real running begins for the Run for the Roses.

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