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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.

American filly Lady Aurelia wins again at Royal Ascot

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ASCOT, England — American filly Lady Aurelia won at Royal Ascot for the second straight year, cruising to a three-length victory in the King’s Stand Stakes under replacement jockey John Velazquez on Tuesday.

“She’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse,” said trainer Wesley A. Ward after Lady Aurelia backed up her win in the Queen Mary Stakes in 2016.

Frankie Dettori was scheduled to ride Lady Aurelia, but pulled out of the entire meeting early Tuesday after failing to recover from an arm injury sustained when he was thrown off a horse in a parade ring last week.

Velazquez was drafted in and settled the U.S. horse into a good early position. Lady Aurelia took the lead with two furlongs to run and pulled away, winning the five-furlong race in 57.45 seconds, just short of a course record.

“This is wonderful for American racing,” said Ward, who has eight career winners at Ascot since 2009. Six of those wins have been by juveniles.

Ward has 10 entries at the prestigious meeting staged just outside London, as part of the largest contingent of U.S. runners – 14 – to compete at Royal Ascot.

Following the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II at the course ahead of the start of the meeting, racing was preceded by a minute’s silence in honor of the victims of attacks in Britain in recent weeks.

Royal Ascot to make to make U.S. Television debut

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STAMFORD, Conn. – NBCSN presents daily live coverage of the Royal Meeting in Ascot, Berkshire, England – one of the most prestigious horse racing meets in the world – beginning Tuesday, June 20, at 8:30 a.m. ET. NBCSN’s live coverage of the full five-day Royal meeting, Tuesday through Saturday, June 24, will air daily from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. ET — for a total of 22.5 coverage hours. This year’s coverage marks the U.S. television debut of the event.

Royal Ascot is one of the world’s most valuable horse racing events, attracting many of the world’s finest racehorses. The event features 30 races, including eight at the world championship “Group One” level. Five US‑based trainers are expected to field a total of 14 runners, headlined by Todd Pletcher, whose horses won the Kentucky Derby (Always Dreaming) and Belmont Stakes (Tapwrit) this year. Pletcher’s American Patriot runs in Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes.

The Royal Meeting is the center of the British social season and a pivotal week in the calendar of the Royal Family, who arrive every day by the world famous “Royal Procession” – with the first carriage carrying The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.