Monday Morning Mig: Always Dreaming's Kentucky Derby Triumph

Always Dreaming took a prominent early position during the 143rd Kentucky Derby before pulling ahead into the far turn and powering to a decisive win.

Retired jockey Richard Migliore, who works as a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, offers his expertise from the perspective of a professional rider in a regular feature for America's Best Racing — Monday Morning Mig. A winner of 4,450 career races and the 1981 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice will review key races on the Triple Crown trail and the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, providing his thoughts leading into the race, insights about what happened during the running of the race and key takeaways from the outcome.

Here Migliore takes a closer look at the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.

1. Post Positions: In a 20-horse field nobody wants extreme inside or outside post positions. That being said, the main contenders all drew well.

2. The Start: I anticipated the favorite Always Dreaming to come out running to gain forward position. I was a bit surprised that State of Honor showed as much speed as he did. There was much bunching and jostling that may have compromised several runners, most notably Classic Empire. Completely unexpected was Thunder Snow doing his best impression of a bucking horse in the rodeo. It appeared to me that Thunder Snow reacted negatively to the reflection and shine off of the sealed racing surfacing. Christophe Soumillon should be lauded as a hero in this Derby for the amazing job he did staying on the wayward Thunder Snow avoiding a potential catastrophe.

3. The Big Move: John Velazquez showed why he is in the Hall of Fame with his flawless ride. Johnny V. allowed Always Dreaming to get his position going forward into the first turn using his ample speed enough to spread out the field, giving him the opportunity to get to the outside of the pacesetter State of Honor. Always Dreaming settled nicely into Velazquez's hands and waited to be asked for his best. The other big move that should not be overlooked is the ride and trip that Lookin At Lee received from Corey Lanerie. Breaking from the dreaded one post, he was away alertly, settled near the back of the pack, and rallied along the rail without ever having to steady or break momentum.

4. The Big Miss: There were really no big misses in this Derby. There was maybe more jostling and steadying than the average Derby but there is no doubt about who the best horse was.

5. The Finish: I thought that Always Dreaming was the best horse going into the Derby and he justified my confidence with a resounding victory. Trainer Todd Pletcher did an amazing job with a colt that was a bit high-strung at Churchill Downs early Derby week. It took a trainer with a good handle of his colt and a lot of confidence to change exercise riders and equipment the week leading up to the Derby. 

6. The Takeaway: Always Dreaming vaulted to the head of this 3-year-old class with his dominant victory in the Kentucky Derby. With his tactical speed and stamina he will be very tough going forward into the next two legs of the Triple Crown. In the history of the Kentucky Derby there had only been one set of Brooklyn, N.Y., natives to win the run for the roses. Now Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo, hailing from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, join the Dwyer brothers, Phil and Mike, who won the Derby in 1881 with Hindoo and 1896 with Ben Brush. Always Dreaming will have to prove he can replicate his Derby winning performance coming back on short rest in two weeks. If he can, get ready for a big party at Belmont Park on June 10.

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