January 22, 2018

Finley confirms Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will skip the Belmont Stakes

Always Dreaming with John Velazquez up wins the 143rd Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 6, 2017 (c) Rickelle Nelson/Horsephotos.com

West Point Thoroughbred’s Terry Finley confirmed on Friday that Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Always Dreaming will not take part in the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10 at Belmont Park.

Trainer Todd Pletcher expressed reluctance on running the dark bay son of Bodemeister in the third leg of the Triple Crown after Always Dreaming suffered his first off-the-board finish when eighth in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 20.

“Todd ended up conferring with the majority partners (Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo) and I think they just want to take a deep breath with him,” Finley told The Blood-Horse’s Alicia Wincze Hughes. “There are some really exciting spots for him later in the year. Certainly the big one is the (August 26) Travers ([G1] at Saratoga). So that was the thinking – we take a pause here and regroup.”

Always Dreaming – who is campaigned by MeB Racing Stables, Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, St. Elias Stable, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds – was unbeaten on the year going into the Preakness Stakes. He captured the Florida Derby (G1) by five lengths prior to his 2 3/4-length score in the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky-bred was sent off the 6-5 favorite in the Preakness and set the pace while pressed by Classic Empire before fading on the final turn to wind up eighth on the finish line under jockey John Velazquez.

“As my good friend Lynn Whiting said…the Derby never washes off, and that’s a very apt way to address it and to look at it,” Finley said. “We’re never going to let the Derby wash off of us and that’s something they’re never going to take away from Always Dreaming.”

While Always Dreaming is out of the Belmont, Albaugh Family Stable’s Jason Loutsch told Hughes that Gotham Stakes (G3) victor J Boys Echo will likely go in the “Test of the Champion.”

The Mineshaft sophomore bypassed the Preakness after a 15th-place run in the Kentucky Derby, which followed a fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. According to Loutsch, J Boys Echo will work at Churchill Downs on Saturday for trainer Dale Romans.

“If all goes good tomorrow and he comes back good on Sunday, we’ll go,” Loutsch said. “We’re just going to draw a line through the Derby. He got hammered out of the gate and never ran a lick.”

In other Belmont news, Blue Grass scorer Irap worked six furlongs in 1:14.40 over Santa Anita Park’s fast main track on Friday. The Doug O’Neill trainee, 18th in the Derby last out, will be going for just his second win in the Belmont after breaking his maiden in the Blue Grass.

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