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Pletcher says Always Dreaming remains on-track for Derby

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) Always Dreaming came out of his Florida Derby win healthy and will stay put for a couple of weeks before heading to the Kentucky Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday.

“All is well,” Pletcher said.

Always Dreaming posted the fastest winning time at the Florida Derby since Alydar in 1978. Always Dreaming prevailed in 1 minute, 47.47 seconds, while Alydar was clocked in 1:47 flat.

The Florida Derby win was worth 100 points in the system used to determine which 20 horses are invited to the Kentucky Derby, and that was more than enough to ensure that Always Dreaming will have a spot in that field if he stays healthy over the next month. He will remain at Palm Beach Downs for at least a couple more weeks before going to Churchill Downs.

“He’s showing us all the signs you’re hoping for,” Pletcher said.

Always Dreaming is one of four Pletcher trainees who are in line to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, along with Tapwrit, Malagacy and Patch. A fifth possibility, Battalion Runner, could earn a spot with a strong showing at the Wood Memorial in New York on Saturday.

Battalion Runner got his final workout in Sunday for the Wood. He’ll ship to New York on Tuesday.

“He’s had a good, steady series of solid works so this is more of a maintenance type work before he ships north,” Pletcher said. “He looked good and was moving well. It was a nice, relaxed work by himself and he seemed to come out of it well.”

Pletcher has sent 45 horses to the Kentucky Derby. That’s No. 2 in the all-time trainer entry standings, three behind his mentor D. Wayne Lukas. Pletcher’s lone win at the Run for the Roses came with Super Saver in 2010.

“It’s the hardest race in the world to win,” Pletcher said.

Long shot Puig finishes second in Del Mar debut

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Long shot Puig finished second in his career debut at Del Mar, with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig supporting the horse on Twitter.

Puig lost by 3 1/4 lengths in the $60,000 fifth race on Sunday at the seaside track north of San Diego. He paid $17.80 and $9.60 at 32-1 odds under jockey Santiago Gonzalez.

The Kentucky-bred colt earned $12,000 in the 6 1/2-furlong race. He is trained by Scott Hansen and owned by Gary Broad.

Puig of the Dodgers re-tweeted a photo of the horse leaving the paddock before the race.

Songbird to run at Saratoga, won’t face males at Del Mar

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Songbird will return to Saratoga to run in the $700,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 26 rather than taking on male horses in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar a week earlier.

Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm said Sunday that Saratoga is his favorite track and the Personal Ensign is the right race for the 4-year-old filly.

Songbird is 13-1 in her career and has earnings of over $4.5 million. Her only loss came by a nose to Beholder in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Songbird put in a five-furlong workout at Del Mar on Sunday, completing the distance in 1:01 in her home state of California.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird earned back-to-back Grade 1 victories at Saratoga last year in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama.