Always Dreaming wins the 143rd Kentucky Derby

Classic Empire Martin Rivera

For the fifth year in a row the favorite won the Kentucky Derby as Always Dreaming at a loose favorite 9-2 odds won for the owners Brooklyn Boys Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velasquez.

"This is the best horse Todd and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with", Velazquez said.

Though it was the second Derby victory for both Pletcher and Velazquez, winning it as a team was a long time coming.

Only 12 horses have won horse's racing's Triple Crown - the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes - with American Pharoah the most recent to do it, in 2015.

When he elects to run in the Preakness, Pletcher typically ships his horses to Pimlico late, the Daily Racing Form notes.

Lookin At Lee returned $26.60 and $18.20, while Battle of Midway was another five lengths back in third and paid $20.80 to show.

Vinny Viola, one of the partners in Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming, talks about the colt with reporters outside Barn 40 Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sunday, May 7, 2017.

"We felt the draw reins would control him better, bring his head down, give the rider better control", said Pletcher. "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".

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The Santa Anita Derby runner-up was within a length of Always Dreaming as they ran into the stretch and kept up with him for the first few strides there before fading behind the eventual Derby victor and getting passed in midstretch by Lookin At Lee, who beat him by 5 lengths for second place. Another longshot, Battle of Midway, finished third. "If you finish fourth, you're not going to make it". "Classic Empire really got clobbered".

"I think the heart, mind and attitude of the horse are big factors in the recovery", Breen told CNN. Upon his return in winter from what Pletcher called a "freshening", the trainer said, "We could see right away as soon as we were breezing him that he had extra-special talent".

"I was a little anxious on the back side".

"He felt OK but he was struggling with the racetrack early on". "When I asked him for speed and to pick it up, he struggled quite a bit", said jockey Javier Castellano.

Pletcher also noticed Irish War Cry's jockey Rajiv Maragh peek under his shoulder as they headed into the stretch "like he thought he had a lot of horse". Always Dreaming's only stakes victory before the Derby was his relatively easy win in the Florida Derby, causing some critics to question if he'd really been tested.

Classic Empire, victor of the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the morning line favorite, was jostled at the start.

Of the other fancied horses, Gunnevera was never a factor before a mild rally to finish seventh, one place ahead of McCraken, with Irish War Cry tenth.

Godolphin's Thunder Snow took no part after bucking at the start. I figure if the horse can't take itself seriously then why should I?

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