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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.

Saratoga, without Justify, ready to go for 150th meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Triple Crown winner Justify won’t be running during the 150th meet at Saratoga Race Course, but many of the best thoroughbreds will be at the historic track for the 40-day season.

The meet features 69 stakes races worth $18.8 million in purses and opens Friday. Among those running this season will be Good Magic, Hofburg, Gronkowski, Vino Rosso, and Bravazo.

Todd Pletcher is eyeing his 13th training title in 16 years. He won last year with 40 winners, one more than Chad Brown.

Justify has returned to Del Mar in California after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago. Trainer Bob Baffert says Justify probably will walk around the stable area the next two weeks.

The colt likely will return in the fall, the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

Triple Crown winner Justify under observation at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Triple Crown winner Justify has re-located to Del Mar where trainer Bob Baffert is keeping him under observation after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago.

Baffert says Justify will probably just walk around the stable area for the next two weeks at the track north of San Diego. The probable scenario for the colt is a return to racing sometime in the fall with the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

“Right now, we’re just looking to get him 100 percent,” Baffert said Monday. “We’re in a holding pattern. I’d love to run him again because he’s so much fun and exciting to watch. We should know more in a couple of weeks.”

Justify has won all six starts in his brief career that began this year. He has won four straight Grade 1 races, including a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown champion.

The colt hasn’t had a workout since the Belmont Stakes on June 9.