Always Dreaming poised for another Churchill score

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

May 1st, 2018

It's always a delight to racing fans when a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner returns to Churchill Downs. On Friday, 2017 Derby hero ALWAYS DREAMING makes his comeback to Louisville in the $400,000 Alysheba (G2).

Always Dreaming has not visited the winner's circle since joining the history books in last season's Run for the Roses, but that is all about to change on Friday in the Alysheba.

Following an impeccable early spring campaign, the son of Bodemeister ran a trio of sub-par races and was sent to the bench following a ninth-place finish in the historic Travers (G1). Always Dreaming reappeared in the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) in late March and ran second while never imposing his will on Conquest Big E. This was not the performance expected and hoped for by many, but I liked it a lot.

Always Dreaming showed speed and stayed on when he could have caved in late, finishing well clear of third in a race that he was not fully cranked up for. A one-turn mile is a demanding race in itself, even more so when coming off a long layoff. Always Dreaming will be dead fit on Friday. And his last trio of morning works has been excellent.

In the Alysheba, Always Dreaming drew the 3 post and landed in a field with little to no pace on board. He looks like lone speed on a surface that he obviously thrives upon.

The colt has four main foes to deal with on Friday, and each has flaws in my opinion.

Dual Grade 2 star Good Samaritan, the morning-line choice, has no shortage of talent but he is a come-from-the-clouds closer going a distance that is less than his best. Bill Mott trainee will likely come up short in the stretch.

Grade 1 winner and $4.4 million earner Hoppertunity is a grinder who needs every bit of nine furlongs to be at his very best for Baffert. Classy seven-year-old will cut back after a 1 1/2-miles stakes romp most recently.

Mark Casse's Awesome Slew is a very, very good middle-distance horse with a big turn of foot. Son of Awesome Again has not run more than a mile in excess of 15 months, though, and he also drew widest of all.

Backyard Haven, very impressive in two wins in succession, will be making his stakes debut and has to prove himself with this kind.

The stars are aligned for Always Dreaming to get back to his best at Churchill Downs.

(Adam Coglianese Photography)