Derby joy for Dreaming

Always Dreaming made light of the rain-soaked track to claim victory

Always Dreaming won the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs over a sloppy track in Louisville on Saturday, giving jockey John Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher their second career wins in the 'Run for the Roses'.

Coping beautifully with the tricky track while others faltered, Always Dreaming broke smoothly from the gate and patiently stalked the lead for the first half of the one-and-a-quarter mile classic before taking charge going into the far turn.

Never threatened down the stretch, the co-favourite won with a time of 2:03.59 before a crowd of some 170,000 that packed the grandstands and infield of Churchill Downs on a day that alternated between sunshine and rain.

Lookin at Lee, a 33-1 longshot, was second, two-and-three-quarters lengths back, in the first leg of US thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown series for three-year-olds. Battle of Midway, another unfancied entry at 40-1, was third, seven-and-three-quarters lengths adrift.

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Velazquez, who had been out of the top nine in the Derby the last four years, said: "This was the best horse in the Derby and he proved it today.

"Once he got in a comfortable position I just waited until the quarter pole when I asked him to run."

Early favourite Classic Empire finished fourth, one length out of the money, while fancied McCraken finished eighth and Irish War Cry was 10th across the line.

Another of Pletcher's three entries in the race won some surprise backing of the punters.

Patch, whose left eye was removed last year after an extreme inflammation, became a sentimental favourite, going from 30-1 in the early odds to 12-1 by race time before finishing 14th in the 20-horse field.

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