As the horses surged into the stretch in the Kentucky Derby, even trainer Todd Pletcher looked to see which challengers were coming to serve him another blast of heartburn.
Turns out the dark brown colt knew best.
Velazquez is the 26th jockey to win the Derby twice, while Pletcher is the 19th trainer to do so.
Pletcher won his first Derby in 2010 with Super Saver while Velazquez won the following year with Animal Kingdom. This was her third straight stakes victory, improving her record to 10 wins in 20 career starts. He led in the middle of the first straightaway and was in the place position until Lookin At Lee passed him late in the race. He won his previous three starts, including the UAE Derby. He got his first win on January 25, the latest first victory for a Derby victor since 1933.
Lookin at Lee held on for second, which was unusual because the colt was 33-to-1. Always Dreaming roared to a 2 3/4-length victory to take the traditional garland or roses before an announced crowd of 158,070.
Classic Empire, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile victor and 2-year-old champion, was made the 4-1 morning-line favorite after overcoming injuries to emphatically win the Arkansas Derby in April.
Always Dreaming finished the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.59.
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The victory was worth $1,635,800. "I mean, you can't help but root for him". Somebody asked the trainer whether he felt elation or vindication? Going into the turn, I seemingly had a lot of horse.
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As they turned for home, Always Dreaming was close to the rail and began to pull ahead to a comfortable margin.
And then there was everyone's real favorite, Patch, the one-eyed horse.
UAE Derby victor Thunder Snow bucked out of the starting gate and was immediately pulled up in the opening moments.
NBC reported a few minutes after the race that a preliminary examination of Thunder Snow showed nothing out of the ordinary. He helped himself to a two-length lead.
By the time Always Dreaming got to Louisville on April 23, he was full of energy. "At the quarter pole when he stretched down the lane he was really running".
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After six furlongs went in a strong 1:11.12 Irish War Cry and Rajiv Maragh were in contention, as was Battle of Midway, in third and fourth positions.
This has been the spot in the Derby where something odd happened to Pletcher.
Another of Pletcher's three entries in the race won some surprise backing of the punters.
Nothing unusual happened. Something spectacular happened.
"We had a good trip", jockey Tyler Gaffalione said. "I'm still very happy".
"I'm definitely proud of Lee", Asmussen said. "They were going to have to go really fast to catch him".
Classic Empire was one of the favorites at 6-1.
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McCraken finished eighth in the field after entering the day at 5-1. Second-favorite Irish War Cry was 10th.