Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby in slop
LOUISVILLE — The Latest on the Kentucky Derby (all times local):
Always Dreaming has won the 143rd Kentucky Derby, pulling away from Lookin at Lee in the slop.
Race officials confirmed the win for Always Dreaming minutes after he crossed the finish line first at Churchill Downs. The win gives trainer Todd Pletcher his second Derby win.
Battle of Midway finished third in the 20-horse field.
Always Dreaming covered the 1 1/4-mile track in 2:03.59.
Always Dreaming overtook early favorite Classic Empire as the betting choice on Saturday morning, briefly sharing that status with Irish War Cry before holding on entering the gate.
Starting from the No. 5 post position, the 9-2 favorite made his push on the backstretch into the lead by the far turn.
Always Dreaming began stretching it out from there to win by 2 3/4 lengths over long shot Lookin At Lee, with Battle of Midway five lengths back.
Always Dreaming paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5.80. Lookin At Lee returned $26.60 and $15.20, while Battle of Midway paid $20.80.
Always Dreaming has unofficially won the 143rd Kentucky Derby.
Always Dreaming pulled away from Lookin at Lee in the slop to give trainer Todd Pletcher his second Derby victory at Churchill Downs.
Battle of Midway was third in the 20-horse field.
Divisidero always rises to the occasion on Kentucky Derby day.
The 5-year-old completed a unique hat trick Saturday — winning a turf race on three consecutive Derby undercards.
At 3, he captured the American Turf. This time, he scored a repeat win in the $500,000 Turf Classic, edging past pacesetter Beach Patrol in the final strides.
Divisidero saves his best efforts for the biggest day at Churchill Downs, going 2 for 10 in races run on other days in the year.
Julien Leparoux was aboard for trainer Buff Bradley as Divisidero ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.42.
He paid $9 to win.
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri patiently stopped to pose for selfies with dozens of fans as he walked just 40 paces to the wagering windows in the Turf Club, Churchill Downs’ exclusive club.
It was Fieri’s eighth Kentucky Derby in a town he loves so much he opened a restaurant, Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, six months ago.
“Louisville is so much more than just the Derby, it’s a great culture of people,” he said. “The people are the best. I shot Triple-D down here, it’s the best place in the world. It has such a good energy,” said Fieri, referring to his Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
He was interrupted again by a fan begging for a picture.
“You bet you can,” he said, again and again, as people lined up to snap his photo.
Once he finally reached the window, he scrolled through this phone reading texts from a friend he called the “horse whisperer,” who sent advice on the best bets.
He settled on a series of superfectas and a wager on a horse with long odds called Fast and Accurate before starting the slog back to his seat, interrupted two dozen times by picture-seekers.
He also snapped a photos with Julian Edelman, the Patriots wide receiver.
Churchill Downs officials say attendance for the Kentucky Derby is 158,070.
That’s the seventh-largest crowd in the race’s 143-year history.
It’s rained on and off Saturday, making for muddy conditions on the track and puddles on the pavement.
The weather challenged fashionable fans to party in multiple conditions, with moments of sunshine, too.
Always Dreaming and Irish War Cry are the co-favorites for the Kentucky Derby at 9-2 with an hour to go until the race.
McCraken is the 6-1 third choice.
Morning-line favorite Classic Empire is the fourth choice, tepidly supported at 7-1.
Every other runner is in double digits, including Patch, the one-eyed horse, whose odds have dropped throughout the afternoon. He is down to 12-1.
Whenever there’s a big crowd, politicians are sure to follow. And Kentucky’s political leaders flock to the Kentucky Derby, when the state finds itself in the national spotlight more than any other day.
Prominent politicians spending Saturday at Churchill Downs included members of Congress and the Kentucky General Assembly. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was back in his hometown of Louisville, attending the Derby with his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Gov. Matt Bevin spent time shaking hands and posing for photos with race fans. It’s also a chance for Kentucky to do some business recruiting. “We have a whole lot of folks that come in, some of whom have a significant presence here, some of whom are interested in Kentucky,” the Republican governor said.
Limousine Liberal survived a sudden downpour and a stretch scramble to win the $500,000 Churchill Downs Sprint on Saturday.
It was up for grabs in the final furlong with several horses still having a shot. The 5-year-old gelding trained by Ben Colebrook pulled it out by a head over Awesome Slew for a 13-1 upset as the skies opened up again.
Limousine Liberal paid $28.40 to win.
Jose Ortiz was aboard for his second stakes win of the day. Earlier, he rode Paulassilverlining to victory in the Humana Distaff.
Fans are breaking out their ponchos again as Churchill Downs has been soaked by another round of showers before the Kentucky Derby.
The sun broke through the clouds early in the afternoon Saturday after a gloomy morning, allowing fans to discard their rain gear and show off their best Derby outfits.
But the rain returned late in the afternoon, prompting many fans to seek whatever cover they could find at Churchill Downs. Others sat through the rain, looking over soaked programs to consider any final bets leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Red Sox legend David Ortiz emerged from the terrace outside the exclusive Turf Club, a bourbon on the rocks in hand, and pondered which Kentucky Derby horse he should put his money on.
“I gotta make some money. Mama needs a new pair of shoes!” said Ortiz, in a pinstripe suit with a feather in his fedora. “And she likes Christian Louboutins so you know it’s got to be a lot.”
Big Papi rubbed shoulders on the star-studded balcony with other sports legends, like Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Aaron Rodgers and Jerry Rice.
It was his first Derby, and his first trip to Kentucky. He said he’s having so much fun he hopes it’s not his last.
Other celebrities in the crowd at Churchill Downs: Larry David, Kid Rock and Guy Fieri.
A switch to turf turned Arklow into a stakes winner.
The colt trained by Brad Cox is 2 for 2 since shifting to turf after losing all five of his races on dirt. He posted one-length upset in the $300,000 American Turf for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Churchill Downs in a race leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith was aboard as Arklow rallied six-wide in the stretch to beat Good Samaritan. Arklow ran 1:44.64 for 1 1/16 miles.
He paid $32 to win at 15-1 odds.
Wild Shot rebounded from a seventh-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes to pull an 8-1 upset in the $250,000 Pat Day Mile for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Unlike the Blue Grass where Wild Shot set the pace, jockey Corey Lanerie kept the colt in second this time as Uncontested set the pace for the race in the undercard of the Kentucky Derby. Turned loose at the top of the stretch, Wild Shot sprinted away to a four-length victory.
The colt was bred and is owned by historic Calumet Farm. Trained by Rusty Arnold, Wild Shot paid $19.40 to win.
The time was 1:35.67 in the mud.
The red carpet at the Kentucky Derby annually attracts a barrage of reality TV stars, athletes, media figures and other celebrities.
“Goodfellas” actor Paul Sorvino got the biggest applause this year as he serenaded the media crowd at Churchill Downs with a rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” in his best operatic voice. He got a high-five from a fan and a kiss from his wife.
Bon Jovi guitarist and New Jersey native Richie Sambora shouted “Jersey in the house!” and Katie Couric went out of her way by walking into the crowds that stand behind a media row and snapping selfies with fans.
Couric says she turned 60 this year but can still rock a pink fascinator hat on Derby day.
Athletes who walked the red carpet included former Red Sox star David Ortiz, golfer Justin Rose, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and former NFL quarterback Warren Moon.
With four hours until the Kentucky Derby is run, Always Dreaming remains the 4-1 favorite in the wagering.
Irish War Cry continues to gather support. He’s now the 9-2 second choice at Churchill Downs.
So far, bettors are shunning Classic Empire. The colt who was made the 4-1 morning line favorite on Wednesday is now 8-1.
Sentimental favorite Patch, the one-eyed colt, is 14-1, down from his 30-1 morning line odds.
Trainer Chad Brown won a second stakes Saturday on the Kentucky Derby undercard when Roca Rojo prevailed by a head in the $300,000 Distaff Turf Mile.
The race ended with a head-bobbing finish as the pacesetting Believe in Bertie and Roca Rojo hit the wire together. The photo awarded the victory to 6-5 favorite Roca Rojo, her sixth in eight starts.
A 5-year-old with international experience, Roca Rojo won her first two races in her native Ireland before joining Brown’s U.S. stable last year.
Florent Geroux guided her over the mile in 1:37.53 on a rain-softened turf course.
Roca Rojo paid $4.60 to win.
A determined Paulassilverlining held off 3-2 favorite Finest City by a neck to win the $300,000 Humana Distaff, the first stakes race on the Kentucky Derby undercard Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The 5-year-old trained by Chad Brown has been a model of consistency. This was her third straight stakes victory, improving her record to 10 wins in 20 career starts.
She took charge entering the turn and was pressured in the lane by Finest City, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last year.
Jose Ortiz guided Paulassilverlining over the seven furlongs in 1:23.68 over the sloppy track. She paid $7.60 to win.
If you’ve ever had mud splashed on your windshield, you know annoying it can be.
Jockeys face the same challenge on a sloppy track like at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day. And they don’t have the advantage of flicking on the wipers.
Mud is constantly kicked back into the faces of horses and riders when rain turns the dirt surface into a substance similar to pudding.
It’s hard enough for a jockey to maintain balance on a 1,000-pound thoroughbred under ideal conditions. Riding while blinded by a coat of slop is nearly impossible.
Jockeys compensate by wearing multiple sets of goggles. When one pair gets dirtied, the rider pulls it down around his neck. The process is repeated throughout the race to keep the mud at bay.
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay has cooked up a winner on Kentucky Derby day.
His 3-year-old colt Caviar Czar won his first race on the undercard. It came on the third try for the Ireland-bred horse.
It was a satisfying victory for Flay as he was also the breeder. John Velazquez was aboard as Caviar Czar paid $8.20 to win.
The timing was perfect since Flay was already at Churchill Downs for a cooking segment on NBC’s Derby telecast.
The chef known for “Iron Chef America,” regular TV appearances and several restaurants is a longtime owner and breeder who has had success in the Breeders’ Cup world championships.
The Churchill Downs bugler is playing hurt on Kentucky Derby day.
Steve Buttleman walked into a riser near the stage at the post-position draw on Wednesday and hit a shin, rupturing the quadriceps tendon in his left leg.
As a result, he’ll be wearing a bulky brace over his white pants while he plays “Call to the Post'” at his 22nd Derby on Saturday.
He’s set to have surgery on Tuesday.
Always Dreaming is the favorite in early wagering on the Kentucky Derby.
The Florida Derby winner is at 4-1 odds.
Classic Empire, the 4-1 morning-line favorite, hasn’t generated much support yet. His odds have drifted up to 7-1.
The late-running Gunnevera is taking action. After opening at 15-1 on the morning line, his price is now 9-1.
The sentimental choice is Patch, the one-eyed colt. His story has captivated many fans and apparently their wallets, too. Listed at 30-1 from the outside post in the 20-horse field, Patch is 15-1.
The odds will fluctuate throughout the day as money pours in from fans at Churchill Downs and those wagering online and at simulcast locations.
Three races are in the books leading up to the Kentucky Derby, where cold and wet weather has forced spectators to bundle up and use colorful hats for function rather than fashion at Churchill Downs.
A third straight day of rain has dampened fans gathered Saturday under the Twin Spires in 48-degree weather. Track conditions are rated sloppy for horses slogging through the mud in a light but steady drizzle.
The weather is forecast to improve by the time the Derby is run around 6:46 p.m. Eastern time. Always Dreaming is the 4-1 favorite in early wagering.
Some women are covering their elaborate hats in plastic and wearing rubber boots to protect against the soggy weather.