Fresh horses await Derby winner Always Dreaming in Preakness

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Always Dreaming is headed to the Preakness in two weeks, when the Kentucky Derby winner is likely to face several fresh horses that skipped the first leg of the Triple Crown.

A majority of the 20-horse field that ran on a sloppy Churchill Downs track in Saturday’s Derby won’t go on to Baltimore.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday that Always Dreaming will head to Baltimore on Tuesday so the 3-year-old colt has plenty of time to adjust to his new surroundings ahead of the 1 3/16-mile race to be run May 20.

“At Pimlico, there’s generally not a lot of horses training there,” he said. “It will be a quiet environment, give us time to get him settled in and if we have to make any adjustments, we’ll have time to do that.”

Always Dreaming will take up residence in stall No. 40, which traditionally houses the Derby winner in the Pimlico stakes barn.

The dark bay colt was difficult to train in the days leading to the Derby, forcing Pletcher to adjust his equipment. Eventually, Always Dreaming settled down and won by 2} lengths, equaling the longest streak of favorites to win since five in a row did so in the 1890s.

“He’s really got some spring in his step this morning,” Pletcher said.

The 49-year-old trainer and jockey John Velazquez won their second Derbies. Pletcher was still sorting through hundreds of congratulatory text messages, including ones from Hall of Fame basketball coach Lute Olson and Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.

No horse asserted his dominance in the winter prep races leading up to the 143rd Derby. As the winner, Always Dreaming certainly commands respect. However, the colt isn’t scaring away the competition in the Preakness.

The field for the second leg of the Triple Crown is capped at 14 – six fewer than the Derby.

“There’s not that much separation from this bunch of 3-year-olds right now, from what I can see, other than maybe the winner yesterday,” said trainer Ken McPeek, who is pointing Lexington Stakes winner Senior Investment toward the Preakness.

Among Always Dreaming’s Derby rivals, second-place finisher Lookin At Lee and 13th-place Girvin are possible for the Preakness. If an issue with fourth-place Classic Empire’s right eye clears up, he could join them.

Classic Empire got banged into by McCraken in the start of a chain-reaction collision and his eye was nearly closed shut on Sunday.

“I’d like another crack at everybody because he had a trip from hell,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He looks a bit like Muhammad Ali after a rough night.”

Southern California-based Royal Mo, who didn’t get into the Derby, will run in the Preakness.

Gunnevera, who was seventh in the Derby, is another possibility.

Other possible new shooters include Illinois Derby winner Multiplier, Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money and Lancaster Bomber from the barn of Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien.

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.

Funtastic wins Monmouth’s United Nations Stakes in 23-1 upset

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — Funtastic led all the way in a 23-1 upset Saturday in the $300,000 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Chad Brown, the Eclipse Award winner the last two years as the nation’s leading trainer, got his third victory in the New Jersey’s biggest turf race. He won with Big Blue Kitten in 2013 and 2015.

The U.N. and the $1 million Haskell on July 29 are the two Grade 1 stakes at Monmouth.

Brown saddled four of the nine runners in the U.N. and ran 1-2 as Money Multiplier rallied to finish a half length behind Funtastic and jockey Antonio Gallardo.

The other two Brown horses were Silverwave (fifth) and Kurilov (eighth).

The time was 2:12.36 for 1 3/8 miles over the firm course.

Funtastic paid $48, $15.80 and $8.60. Money Multiplier, the 2-1 favorite, returned $4 and $2.80.

Bigger Picture, last year’s U.N. winner, was third, paying $5.80 to show.