Always Dreaming wins 143rd Kentucky Derby

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Always Dreaming, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by jockey John Velazquez, won the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby in 2:03.59. 

This was Pletcher and Velazquez’s second Kentucky Derby win.
Always Dreaming, facing 9-2 odds to begin the race, got off to a great start in the wide open field of 20, but State of Honor had the edge. Velazquez made his move on the far turn, holding off the field in the final furlong to earn the Garland of Roses.

Lookin at Lee followed in second place with Battle at Midway crossing in third.

An emotional Pletcher said post race that his second win is “even more special” than his first, especially given his past struggles in running the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher won his first in 2010 with Super Saver and in his 17 years now has two wins, two second place finishes and three thirds.

However, after being presented with the trophy, Pletcher said he’s “a lot less tired” of the narrative that’s haunted him in the past.

Velazquez’s first Kentucky Derby win came one year after Pletcher’s, leading Animal Kingdom in 2011. Though Pletcher is Velazquez’s longtime trainer, this is the first Derby win for the two together.

“On to the Preakness” was the mantra for Always Dreaming’s owner Vincent Viola during the trophy presentation, but can Always Dreaming be the next Triple Crown winner?

American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed’s win in 1978 and was just the 12th Triple Crown winner in the sport’s history. Can Always Dreaming be the next? Find out May 20, 2017 when the next leg in the quest for the Triple Crown takes us to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD for the 2017 Preakness Stakes.

Jockey suspended for using whip on another rider in Arkansas

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — A jockey has been suspended 60 days for misusing his whip – not on a horse – but on another rider in a race at an Arkansas track.

A stewards’ ruling posted Thursday on the Association of Racing Commissioners International website alleges that David Cohen “deliberately” whipped fellow jockey Edgar Morales several times during the eighth race at Oaklawn Park on April 6.

Cohen and his horse Bolita Boyz were forced wide into the stretch by Morales and No Funny Biz. The two raced side-by-side through the stretch, with Cohen whipping his mount left-handed and apparently also striking Morales.

Neither horse won the race.

Upon returning to the jockeys’ room, the ruling said that Morales confronted Cohen, telling him, “You whipped me more than you did your horse.” Morales testified at a hearing that Cohen replied, “Be patient and don’t take me wide.”

Morales testified he had four welts on his right thigh from Cohen’s whip. Although jockeys can be accidentally struck by a whip in a race, Morales told stewards that “it was not an accident, he meant to do it.”

According to the ruling, Cohen said he wouldn’t deliberately hit another jockey with his whip and that if it happened it was accidental.

The ruling said other riders and valets testified they overheard a discussion in the jockeys’ room and that they considered Cohen’s admission as indicative of a deliberate action rather than being accidental.

The stewards agreed with Morales after finding that Cohen’s action was deliberate and violated multiple rules. The stewards said Cohen’s actions jeopardized the safety of other jockeys and horses in the race.

Cohen’s suspension runs from April 27 to June 25.

He was earlier suspended for April 25 and 26 by the stewards as the result of careless riding in the eighth race at Oaklawn on April 7.

His agent, Bill Castle, is appealing both suspensions.

Cohen is second in the Oaklawn jockeys’ standings, with 59 wins from 258 mounts.

Santa Anita to run three days a week, hike purses for six weeks

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita will race three days a week instead of four over the next four weeks because the track has lost some of its horse population to out-of-state venues.

Several stables have shipped horses to Kentucky to run at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, leaving Santa Anita with fewer horses to race and smaller field sizes.

Track officials have yet to decide whether to race three days or four for the final three weeks of the spring meet, which ends June 23.

The track said Friday it is raising purses for all non-stake races by $10,000 each for the next six weeks as a way to help owners and trainers who lost money when the track was closed for most of March.

The deaths of 23 horses since Dec. 26 forced the closure while the track’s dirt surface was examined. Racing resumed March 29, with one horse death occurring since then as the result of injuries in a turf race.

The purse increase announced Friday begins April 26 and runs through June 2. Track officials will decide later whether to continue it through the end of the meet.

The increase is being funded by existing excess money in the purse account and money from The Stronach Group, which owns the track.

Thoroughbred Owners of California chairman Nick Alexander says his group will match the purse supplements funded by TSG in the hopes of returning to racing four days a week.