From Allowance to Grade I
Despite a significant move up the class ladder, Todd Pletcher's Always Dreaming looks to be a force in the Florida Derby.
Always Dreaming captured a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Gulfstream last time out, but he has Pletcher’s history for Florida Derby success with lightly experienced colts on his side.
“Materiality and Constitution come to mind,” Pletcher said of his two most recent Florida Derby success stories. “We’re really, really pleased with how he is doing and having won at a mile and an eighth over the track is also encouraging. We’re excited about the way he’s doing and the way he’s training and coming up to the race.”
Actually, Always Dreaming holds an edge in seasoning over Materiality and Constitution, who had run only twice prior to winning the Florida Derby in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Always Dreaming, a son of Bodemeister, ran twice as a 2-year-old before capturing a maiden event at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 28 by 11 1/2 lengths and winning the allowance at Gulfstream on March 4.
“We considered and thought enough of the way he was training and doing to run in the Fountain of Youth, but we just felt like continuing to bring him along methodically was the correct approach, and he seems to be responding by training exceptionally well,” said Pletcher. “We’ll hope he continues to do that.”
Always Dreaming is rated third in the morning-line behind Gunnevera, the 9-5 favorite, and the Pletcher-trained Battalion Runner, who is rated at 3-1 but unlikely to run.
Should Battalion Runner run, he would also make the jump from allowance to grade I company in his fourth career start. The son of Unbridled’s Song has won twice at Gulfstream Park after finishing second in his debut at Belmont last June.
Impressive Edge is also a two-time winner at the track and also makes his two-turn debut in the Florida Derby.
A sophomore son of 2002 Florida Derby and 2003 Donn Handicap winner Harlan’s Holiday, Impressive Edge earned a shot at South Florida’s biggest Triple Crown prep following an eight-length romp in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance on March 4.
He broke his maiden at Gulfstream in his 3-year-old debut on Jan. 15, his first start for trainer Dale Romans and first race in 5 1/2 months, then was a troubled fourth in the Swale on Feb. 4 in his stakes debut.
The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby will be Impressive Edge’s first start beyond seven furlongs.
“He trains like a really good horse. He’s very athletic, light and easy on himself,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He’s smart, and there’s no reason to think he can’t get the distance.
“He’s always trained well, and he ran big in his maiden race,” he added. “The Swale, if you watch it, when he gets checked it’s kind of over. But, the next race, when he was left alone with a free run, he ran a big race.”
Impressive Edge drew Post 8 in the field of 11 3-year-olds and was made 12-1 on the morning line. Corey Lanerie, aboard for the first time in his most recent start, gets a return call.
“We didn’t pick him up until the end of last year. Steve (Asmussen) had him and he came to me in good shape; the people wanted to run him in Florida,” Romans said. “This year, the way things are going in all different directions, if you’ve got a good 3-year-old that’s training well, you better try him and see if he belongs.”
Edited Gulfstream Park release