Monday Morning Mig: Analyzing Always Dreaming's Big Florida Derby Win

Racing
Always Dreaming stepped up in his first start against stakes company and romped in the April 1 Xpressbet Florida Derby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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.

This week, Migliore takes a closer look at the April 1 Xpressbet Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

1. Post Positions: The favorite Gunnevera was adversely affected by his outside draw. I thought that State of Honor drawing the rail was in a favorable position. The second choice, Always Dreaming, also drew well with post No. 4.

2. The Start: I figured with his rail position State of Honor would go to the lead despite the presence of the speedy Three Rules who broke from post No. 9. Gunnevera broke a step slow and was abruptly angled towards the rail by Javier Castellano. John Velazquez on Always Dreaming fell into the perfect stalking position.

3. The Big Move: When John Velazquez was able to get his position going forward into the first turn and then getting Always Dreaming to settle.

4. The Big Miss: Gunnevera being taken up to get to the rail in such a pronounced fashion to save ground may have backfired. He wound up even farther back than I expected. State of Honor broke alertly from the rail and may have been better served by holding the lead instead of deferring to Three Rules.

5. The Finish: Always Dreaming proved that he is a quality colt with a big future. He is fast and tractable which make him a dangerous contender for the Kentucky Derby. State of Honor was never going to beat the winner, even though he had an uncomfortable trip. Gunnevera ran well closing on a track that was kind to speed all day. I don't think he lost a lot in defeat as he closed well and the mile and a quarter of the Derby would seem well within his scope.

6. The Takeaway: Trainer Todd Pletcher, with several colts developing at the right time, seems to hold a strong hand heading into this year's Kentucky Derby. Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez have both won the Derby separately and it would be fitting if they teamed up to do it together.

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