Always Dreaming splashed through the mud to win the Kentucky Derby yesterday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their second victories in the race but their first together.
Pletcher and Velazquez have teamed up often over the years and are the sport's leading money winners.
Together, they were unbeatable on a cool and rainy day at Churchill Downs.
Sent off at 9-2, Always Dreaming made it the fifth straight year that a Derby favourite has won, the longest such sequence since the 1970s.
Always Dreaming was followed across the finish line by a pair of long shots, Lookin At Lee (33-1) and Battle of Midway (40-1).
Always Dreaming landed his owners a US$1,635,800 first-place payday.
He completed the mile and a quarter in 2 minutes 3.59 seconds and returned $11.40 on a $2 bet to win.
Pletcher won his first Derby in 2010 with Super Saver while Velazquez won the following year with Animal Kingdom.
After three straight days of rain, forcing spectators to use their colourful hats for function rather than fashion, the sun came out at Churchill Downs in Louisville just in time for the running.
The morning began very cold with track conditions rated sloppy as horses slogged through the mud.
Back in April at the Florida Derby, Always Dreaming ran the fastest time since 1978 when Triple Crown winner Affirmed won the race.
Always Dreaming was sold at the Keeneland September 2015 Yearling Sale for US$350,000. He was bought by Anthony Bonomo's Brooklyn Boyz Stables and his wife Mary's MeB Stables. "My son [Anthony Jr] was doing the bidding. I was working. I gave him the budget and thank God he went over it," said Bonomo.
"It means a lot," Velazquez told the Daily Mail in reference to his win with Pletcher, the trainer he has teamed with so successfully over the years.
Classic Empire finished fourth, followed by Practical Joke, Tapwrit, Gunnevera, McCraken, Gormley and Irish War Cry. Hence was 11th, followed by Untrapped, Girvin, Patch, J Boys Echo, Sonneteer, Fast And Accurate, Irap, and State of Honor.
Thunder Snow, the Dubai-based entry, didn't finish. He broke poorly out of the starting gate and began bucking. He was caught by the outrider and he walked back to the barn on his own. Pletcher also trains Tapwrit and Patch, the one-eyed-colt that was a sentimental favourite, but lost the race coming in at 14th place.
Prior to the event, Patch was 14-to-one, and many had hoped he would have won the Derby as more than $2 million had been wagered on his unlikely victory at Churchill Downs.
- AAP, Telegraph Group