Always Dreaming with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons

Always Dreaming with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons

Leslie Martin

Always Dreaming Pleases Pletcher in Florida Move

Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) winner breezed well April 21 at Palm Beach Downs.

Always Dreaming, impressive winner of the April 1 Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, breezed five furlongs April 21 at Palm Beach Downs in 1:01.40, a move that pleased trainer Todd Pletcher.

"I thought it was excellent,” said Pletcher, who watched Always Dreaming work alone with jockey John Velazquez aboard. “We were looking for a nice, steady, solid, stamina-building breeze. He was very relaxed, very happy, moving well, and galloped out great. I was very happy. He’s been training great, eating well, (and his) energy level has been good. We’re really excited about how he’s doing.

“We have a flight to Churchill on Tuesday and an important work over the track there. Hopefully he takes to that surface the way he has to every other surface he’s been on and he stays healthy.”

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Always Dreaming, who races for Brooklyn Boyz Stables, MeB Racing Stable, Teresa and Vinnie Viola, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Siena Farm, is just one of several classic contenders in Pletcher’s barn. Calumet Farm homebred Patch, who finished second in the April 1 Louisiana Derby (G2) in just his third start, worked Friday morning at Palm Beach Downs in 1:01.45.

“He’s not as impressive a work horse as Always Dreaming,” Pletcher said. “He’s more of a workmanlike breeze horse. I thought it was a good, steady five-eighths, typical of what we saw from him all winter and spring.

“I was very pleased for him to go to Fair Grounds and finish a good quality second, closing ground at the end and galloping out in front. I don’t think with his pedigree—being by a Belmont (G1) winner (Union Rags ) and out of an A.P. Indy mare (Windyindy)—that distance should be an issue. I’m a little concerned about his lack of experience, lack of seasoning, but so far he’s handled everything really, really well.”

Pletcher said Wood Memorial (G2) runner-up Battalion Runner is expected to ship to Churchill Downs April 23. Pletcher said the son of Unbridled’s Song, owned by Viola's St. Elias Stable, has been doing well and believes “there’s a couple reasons to think he will improve.”

“(The Wood) was his first race in 64 days and first at 1 1/8 miles, and I hope that brings him forward a bit,” he said.

Pletcher added he’s “on the fence” regarding what direction he will take with Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Malagacy, who finished fifth April 15 in the Arkansas Derby (G1) for Sumaya U.S. Stable.