Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate Always Dreaming's dominant performance in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) at Churchill Downs proved the “buzz” which surrounded him leading up to the classic was warranted.
In the Derby, jockey John Velasquez got a great early position in the 20-horse field, sitting second behind pace-setting State of Honor. When he called on the colt at the quarter pole, Always Dreaming responded strongly, opening up a length as they straightened out for home. His winning margin was a comfortable 2¾ lengths at the wire, with fellow September Sale graduate Lookin at Lee closing for second.
The son of Bodemeister is now undefeated in four starts this year for trainer Todd Pletcher. He ran third and second in maiden special weight races last year, then broke his maiden with a flourish at Tampa Bay Downs in late January 2017, airing by 11½ lengths. After a four-length score in a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Gulfstream in March, his connections upped the ante and ran him in the Expressbet Florida Derby (G1) on April 1. Always Dreaming handled the major class jump with ease, scoring by five lengths.
Always Dreaming was bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners and consigned by Dromoland Farm, agent. Santa Rosa Partners is comprised of Irishmen Mike Ryan and Gerry Dilger, who owns Dromoland Farm. Always Dreaming’s half-sister, Grade 1 winner Hot Dixie Chick, was also bred by Santa Rosa.
“He was a very nice baby,” said Dilger of Always Dreaming. “Good angles, a good way of moving, very classy.”
Dilger has the distinction of having sold the last two winners of the Kentucky Derby as yearlings at Keeneland’s September Sale. Dromoland consigned 2016 Derby victor Nyquist, who brought $230,000. Dilger won’t say if a hat trick of three in a row is possible but, “I sold some very nice horses at the last September Sale. I’m a lucky guy. It’s great, and I have to say I’d be happy if the next guy could do it too. I’ve had a lot of luck and I’m just delighted.”
Out of the In Excess (IRE) mare Above Perfection, Always Dreaming sold for $350,000 as Hip 45 in Book 1 of the 2015 September Sale. Steve W. Young signed the ticket on behalf of partners Anthony and Mary Ellen Bonomo and Vinnie and Teresa Viola.
The ownership group of MeB Racing (Mary Ellen Bonomo), Brooklyn Boyz Stables (Anthony Bonomo), Teresa Viola Racing Stable and St. Elias (Vinnie Viola) grew this spring when Siena Farms and West Point Thoroughbreds bought interests in the colt.
Always Dreaming’s name resonates with everyone in the Thoroughbred industry, from breeders and consignors, to owners and trainers, jockeys and stable crews.
Co-owner Mary Ellen Bonomo came up with the name. “I just always daydreamed. I probably daydream a little too much,” she said in the post-Derby press conference at Churchill Downs. “Everybody dreams of something whether it’s a big event or special day, the birth of their child, winning the Kentucky Derby. So I just said, Always Dreaming. It just took off. We’re overwhelmed. It’s a great day.”