Derby champ Always Dreaming first to arrive at Pimlico
by Gary Quill Kentucky Derby champ Always Dreaming bid adieu to Churchill Downs early Tuesday morning, twelve days in advance of the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes. The three-year-old Bodemeister colt had nothing but clear skies and a smooth, one-hour-and-twenty-minute flight from Louisville to Baltimore, landing at BWI at precisely 9:28AM EDT. From there Always Dreaming got the typical police escort to Old Hilltop, arriving at 11:00 a.m. to a small but enthusiastic welcoming committee.
Without hesitation, the star of the Todd Pletcher barn strolled off the horse van with the aura of a champion. With a freshly laid wood-chip walkway resembling an equine red carpet, the bay colt calmly took his spot in Stall 40 of the Stakes Barn, reserved for the Derby winner.
Now safely at Pimlico, Always Dreaming and his connections can concentrate on preparing for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
“Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6:30 he’ll go out and just jog one time around with the pony,” said Pletcher assistant trainer, Ginny DePasquale. She added that the plan was that Always Dreaming would just breeze and not gallop between now and Preakness day.
She described Always Dreaming, once ensconced in his stall, as “bright-eyed” and happy. The heavy-lifting is over. Now it’s up to Pletcher, who plans on arriving Wednesday afternoon, to keep this colt feeling good. Easier said than done when you’re talking about a high-strung, eleven-hundred pound keg of dynamite.
If all goes well, Pletcher and his team will aim to keep their charge cool and calm until approximately 6:45pm EDT on May 20. Then, they hope he’ll run like the wind — or at least run fast enough to keep Team Always Dreaming dreaming for three more weeks.