Neither mud nor inexperience nor the ambitions of 19 other gifted and unpredictable thoroughbreds could keep yet another favorite from winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby.
Always Dreaming did not quite fit our usual image of a Derby leading man. He had never even run a stakes race before April 1 and his trainer, Todd Pletcher, was known for falling short at Churchill Downs. But as it turned out, the bettors were right. The colt's stellar performance in the Florida Derby and subsequent strong workouts signaled that he was peaking at the right time.
As always, however, the questions turn over quickly in the two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness. As good as Always Dreaming...
Jockey Victor Espinoza guides California Chrome to a wire-to-wire victory in the San Felipe Stakes last month at Santa Anita Park.