IT’S TIME TO DREAM – Bodemeister colt Always Dreaming has arrived

97 Beyer Figure for Florida Derby, 90 for La. Derby



ALWAYS DREAMING (Bodemeister), an on-the-rise Todd Pletcher trainee and the streaking GIRVIN (Tale of Ekati) were the stars of the rich Kentucky Derby ‘prep’ races on Saturday continuing the trend of a Derby picture that is simply very fuzzy.

Always Dreaming, once co-owned by trainer Domenic Schettino in New York, won 2 races (Tampa and Gulfstream) in modest fashion against modest rivals to begin this year for trainer Todd Pletcher but he was very strong in the $1 million Florida Derby.

Over a very, very fast main track (track record for 7 furlongs set in race 1 by the classy old Clearly Now) Always Dreaming and jockey John Velazquez chased Three Rules all the way and powered to the lead off the final turn to win easily.

Canadian/Ontario racing fans got to cheer on another superb run by the giant colt STATE OF HONOR, owned by Waterloo’s Manfred and Penny Conrad, who was always close to the pace and finished evenly on the rail and held second over a fast closing Gunnevera. The latter was far behind early and had too much to do as the favourite.

There was no Beyer Figure for the Florida Derby as of early Sunday as the main track numbers were no doubt trying to be decliphered due to the very fast surface and the malfunctioning teletimer.

A t Fair Gounds, GIRVIN, trained by Joe Sharp, is a steady colt and the Fair Grounds prep race winners must always be respected. The colt did not run all that fast, 1:49 4/5 for a 90 Beyer Figure) but the Louisiana Derby victory was worth the bulk of a whopping $1 million purse.

For State of Honor, that was his  5th straight 2nd of 3rd place finish in a stakes race: Coronation Futurity, Mucho Macho Man, Sam Davis (to McCraken) and Tampa Bay Derby (Tapwrit). The son of To Honor and Serve had blinkers off for this race after 2 races with them on but he not mastered the art of passing horses in the stretch and he would look better returning to the Queen’s Plate trail. The colt’s lone win came at 7 furlongs on the pace.

Should State of Honor be sent to the Kentucky Derby instead, that would give him 2 months to recover for the Plate, a difficult task not accomplished by many horses in modern history.

Speaking of the Plate, Garland and Marie Williamson may have Plate dreams now after their homebred colt TIME TO TRAVEL (88 Beyer Figure) crushed a field of maidens 2nd time out in his career. The Hard Spun colt, a full brother to Grade 1 winner Hard Not to Like, joined the pace battle along the rail and then took off into the stretch to win big for trainer Rachel Halden. Edgar Prado rode.



TIME TO TRAVEL sizzles 7 furlongs at Gulfstream in 1:20 4/5 – Gulfstream Park photo










HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Always Dreaming coasted to a five-length victory in Saturday’s $1 million Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, registering the fastest clocking since Alydar’s winning time in 1978.

Owned by Brooklyn Boyz Stable, MeB Racing Stable, Teresa Viola Racing Stables and St. Elias Stables, Always Dreaming was timed for the 1 1/8m miles in 1:47.47, the fastest clocking since Alydar won the 1978 Florida Derby in 1:47.

In addition to earning the $600,000 winner’s share of the purse, the 3-year-old son of Bodemeister earned 100 qualifying points to earn a berth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs May 6. The Pletcher-trained Tapwrit, Malagacy and Patch have already earned enough points to participate in the first leg of the Triple Crown, and the 14-time Gulfstream Championship meet titlist has a few other prominent colts scheduled to run in upcoming preps for the Run for the Roses.

“The horse has been training exceptionally well and we were confident he was going to run as well as he’s capable of, and thank fully he did. I have to be honest with you, he was training so well that I would have been disappointed had he not run well, but that was a very impressive performance,” Pletcher said. Certainly, that’s why we were here today to hopefully get the points to go on.”

Always Dreaming gave both Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their respective fourth victories in Gulfstream Park’s signature race that highlighted Saturday’s 14-race program that included nine stakes worth $2.45 million in purses. The historic 1 1/8-mile event has produced the winners of 58 Triple Crown races, including 23 Kentucky Derby champions. Nyquist emerged undefeated from last year’s Florida Derby with a 1 ¼-length victory and went on to win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs five weeks later.

Pletcher saddled Scat Daddy (2007) for his first Florida Derby success that was followed by back-to-back triumphs by Constitution (2014) and Materiality (2015). Pletcher had been in a three-way tie for most Florida Derby wins by a trainer with Nick Zito and John Veitch. Velazquez had been in a six-way tie with Edgar Prado, Jerry Bailey, Mike Smith, Bill Shoemaker and Bill Hartack for most Florida Derby wins by a jockey. His first three Florida Derby wins were aboard Quality Road (2009), Orb (2013) and Materiality.

Always Dreaming broke alertly to stalking the pacesetter Three Rules past fractions of 23.28 (seconds), 47.08, and 1:10.75 for the first six furlongs. Gunnevera, the even-money favorite in a field of 10, settled well off the pace after breaking from the No. 10 post position. Always Dreaming, the 5-2 second betting choice, moved alongside a tiring Three Rules at the top of the stretch and drew off to score convincingly. State of Honor, who saved ground behind Three Rules, finished second under Julien Leparoux, 1 ½ lengths ahead of Gunnevera, who made up ground under Javier Castellano through the stretch without posing a win threat.

“Castellano told me the post position was a little problem, but the horse wasn’t comfortable in the beginning. He finished strong but the horses in the front weren’t stopping,” said trainer Antonio Sano, who colt had won the $400,000 Fountain of Youth March 4 to amass enough qualifying points to earn a place in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. “I’m happy. This is an important race to win, but it was a good race for the next one.”
Castellano said Gunnevera didn’t bring his A Game.

“I was riding, riding all the way in the race. He never grabbed the bit, he never pulled like he always used to. Maybe he was affected by the track – the track was speed today,” Castellano said. ‘Unfortunately he didn’t have it today.”

Always Dreaming who raced twice last year before breaking through in his third career start at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 25, capturing a maiden special weight race by more than 11 lengths. He followed up that win with a four-length victory in a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream on the undercard of the Fountain of Youth.

“I think the whole program really helped today. We brought him along gradually, opted for the allowance race on Fountain of Youth day and I think all that paid off,” Pletcher said.

“With two mile and an eighth wins and the way he galloped out today, I’m confident he’ll get the [1 ¼-mile] trip,” he added. “Like always, you want them to stay healthy and you have to have some good luck for the next five weeks.”

State of Honor, the 4-1 third choice who finished second behind Tapwrit in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 11, is expected to join Always Dreaming and Gunnevera at Churchill Downs for the Derby.

“I had a really good trip. We took the blinkers off. He was a little keen the last time at Tampa so we took the blinkers off and tried to rate him a little bit. He was a little keen on the first turn but he switched off on the backside and he was just second-best,” Leparoux said. “We got through on the fence and he gave me all he’s got. He was just second-best.”



Rank Horse Points Owner(s) Trainer   Non-Restricted   Stakes Earnings

1. Girvin                             150 Brad Grady Joe Sharp $849,800
2. $-Thunder Snow (Ire) 100 Godolphin Saeed bin Suroor $1,621,063
3. Always Dreaming          100 Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Teresa Viola Racing Stables et al. Todd Pletcher $589,000
4. Gunnevera                       84 Peacock Racing Stables LLC (Solomon Del-Valle, Guillermo Guerra & Jaime Diaz) Antonio Sano $1,137,800
5. State of Honor                  62 Conrad Farm (Manfred & Penny Conrad) Mark Casse $309,564
   Mastery 60 Cheyenne Stables LLC (Everett Dobson) Bob Baffert $480,000
6. Tapwrit                             54 Bridlewood Farm (John & Leslie Malone), Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (Aron Wellman) & Robert V. LaPenta Todd Pletcher $295,570
7. J Boys Echo                      53 Albaugh Family Stables LLC (Jason Loustch) Dale Romans $255,000
8. Malagacy                          50 Sumaya U.S. Stables Todd Pletcher $540,000
9. Hence                                50 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Steve Asmussen $481,129
10. $$-Fast and Accurate 50 Kendall E. Hansen Mike Maker $320,712
      Epicharis (Jpn) 40 U. Carrot Farm Kiyoshi Hagiwara $851,195

11. Patch                                40 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Todd Pletcher $200,000
12. Practical Joke                  34 Klaravich Stables Inc. (Seth Klarman) & William H. Lawrence Chad Brown $766,000
13. Untrapped                       34 Michael Langford Steve Asmussen $210,000
14. Classic Empire                 32 John C. Oxley Mark Casse $1,493,820
   El Areeb 30 M M G Stables LLC (Mohammed Al-Gadhi) Cal Lynch $330,000

15. Local Hero                       30 e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (Bob Edwards) Steve Asmussen $140,000
16. Gormley                            25 Mr. & Mrs. Jerome S. Moss (Jerry & Ann Moss) John Shirreffs $284,000
+Conquest Mo Money   20 Judge Lanier Racing Miguel Hernandez $296,000
17. McCraken                        20 Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC (Janis R. Whitham) Ian Wilkes $285,048
18. Master Plan                    20 Al Shaqab Racing, WinStar Farm et al Todd Pletcher $214,700
19. Iliad                                  20 Kaleem Shah Inc. Doug O’Neill $200,000
20. Sonneteer                         20 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Keith Desormeaux $186,000

21. Blueridge Traveler             20 Horizon Stables Kenny McPeek $95,000
22. Cloud Computing               20 Klaravich Stables Inc. (Seth Klaraman) & William H. Lawrence Chad Brown $60,000
+Not This Time                         18 Albaugh Family Stable (Dennis Albaugh) Dale Romans $430,210
23. Wild Shot                            17 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Rusty Arnold II $132,200
24. Guest Suite                         15 William S. Farish & Lora Jean Kilroy Neil Howard $154,040
25. Petrov                               13 Rialto Racing Stables LLC (Catherine Adams Hutt) & Southern Spring Stables (Ron Moquett) Ron Moquett $195,000



**Gunpowder Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, Reeves Thoroughbreds et al’s BREAKING LUCKY, the ONtario bred 5-year-old who is a contender to be named Champion Older Horse in Canada for 2016 at the upcoming Sovereign Awards, was nabbed right on the wire in yesterday $400,000 New Orleans Handicap. The son of Lookin at Lucky battled on the pace through stiff fractions, was sent clear into the last turn by jockey Luis Contreras, and looked a winner until Honorable Duty surged late to beat him.

‘Lucky’ trained by Reade Baker, ran his usual 105 Beyer Figure in the 2nd place finish.

**Twitter and other social media outlets erupted when the Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream went off at the exact same time as the Louisiana Derby, one of a handful of such occurrences on the day. The long, long lag time of horses walking in circles when the post time clock says 0 minutes to post, Gulfstream is the main culprit here, is frustrating for fans, bettors and then when the major races at different tracks go off at the same time, well, this won’t do.

** Over a very sloppy track on April 1, 2017 at Aqueduct, BC Derby winner and hard trying gelding SECOND CITY was put to rest.

The 8-year-old, large son of Distorted Humor – Ssis City (one of the races at Aqueduct yesterday was named for Sis City) broke a hind leg in the Caixe Electronica Claiming Stakes and was put down. He had been beaten almost 40 lengths in 2 previous races.

Unbeaten in his first four races, including the BC Derby, which he won for Peter Redekop. Second City has had more than half a dozen owners/trainers and found his way down to $8,000 claiming for a couple of races. Recently he had been racing against better once again until his most recent form went downhill.


From Reddam Racing, $8k by C. Garvey (tr. R. Diodoro), Dmr, 11/9/14.
$8k R. Baltas/A. Wells (tr. R. Baltas), LosAl, 12/6/14. (next start)
$20k Kieran Flynn (tr. N. Esler), Aqu, 1/29/15 (next start)
$32k Chris Schiulez, Sar, 8/8/15.
$50k, P. Pompa Jr. (tr. P. Reynolds), Bel, 5/4/16
$50k, Christopher Dunn (tr. J.Englehart), Bel, 6/19/16

second city bc derby_resized

BC Derby winner (5 years ago) SECOND CITY and jockey Richard Hamel – Hastings Park photo