There are certain achievements time cannot dull. No matter the months that march forward, Always Dreaming will always be the winner of the the first leg of the 2017 Triple Crown, the outing that had his entrepreneurial owners bouncing like school kids in the mud at Churchill Downs May 6.
Time can also benefit those worn out by their successful exploits. After a freshening following his disappointing outing in the middle classic, Always Dreaming has officially gotten back to the business of trying to regain his prior brilliance.
The Todd Pletcher-conditioned winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) put in his first workout since finishing eighth in the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1), covering four furlongs in :49.96 over the Belmont Park training track July 1.
Where the son of Bodemeister was extremely aggressive in his training lead-up to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness—prompting Pletcher to add draw reins to his morning equipment—Always Dreaming appeared much more settled in his first work back and smoothly went through his paces under no urging from exercise rider Hector Ramos.
Pletcher previously stated that the July 30 Betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park and July 29 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course were both under consideration for his charge, although co-owner Anthony Bonomo said Saturday they are leaning toward the latter.
"I think he's doing great after getting some time off and getting over being so tired from that demanding race (in the Preakness)," said Bonomo, who owns Always Dreaming along with fellow majority partner Vinnie Viola, as well as MeB Racing, Teresa Viola, Siena Farm, and West Point Thoroughbreds. "When he works, it doesn't even look he's working, because he is so smooth and has such a beautiful stride. We're thrilled that his first work back was a good one and hopefully he'll continue to work well and be ready for the Saratoga meet.
"Todd has made some great decisions so far, so I'm going to leave (the start) up to him, but I guess, sure, being from New York you think about (the Jim Dandy). We just hope he continues to make progress. Sometimes a little time can be good."
The divisional parity that was prevalent during the prep season won out during the classics, as three different horses ended up taking each leg of the Triple Crown. Always Dreaming is still the only 3-year-old male who has earned multiple grade 1 wins this year. He captured the April 1 Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) by five lengths to tout himself as the Kentucky Derby favorite he would ultimately become—and make good on.
"We've won two prominent races. Those are two big grade 1 races to have under his belt," Bonomo said. "Of course there are a lot of good horses in this division, and that's what makes it so interesting. I don't think there is one horse who is overriding as 'wow, this horse is far and away the best,' as we've seen in recent years.
"This year's is division is still pretty open. ... and for the rest of the year, they'll continue to go after each other. But I'm still proud of Always Dreaming and what he's accomplished this year. Having the two grade 1 wins, I like where we are."
Pletcher added that Always Dreaming is scheduled for three more breezes before the Jim Dandy.
Joining Always Dreaming on the Belmont work tab Saturday was Preakness winner Cloud Computing, who continued his preparations toward a Jim Dandy start with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.84 over the Belmont main track. The son of Maclean's Music has turned in three workouts since he bested champion Classic Empire by a head in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
"He looked very good," said trainer Chad Brown. "He galloped out well and is still on target for the Jim Dandy. I love where we're at with him."