Mon, May 08, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Always Dreaming wins derby

EQUINE ATHLETE:Always Dreaming’s three straight victories in five career starts helped the horse surpass Classic Empire as the 9-2 favorite for Saturday’s sloppy race

AP, LOUISVILLE, Kentucky

State of Honor, ridden by Jose Lezcano, leads the field to the first turn ahead of Always Dreaming, ridden by John Velazquez, on Saturday in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Photo: AFP

Already well connected in the New York business world, Anthony Bonomo hooked up with trainer Todd Pletcher to prepare an entry for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bonomo’s wife, MaryEllen, offered up Always Dreaming’s name because of her proclivity for thinking big.

The dark brown colt on Saturday fulfilled a dream come true for a multitude of people by winning the marquee horse race.

A succession of Brooklyn accents spoke loudly in the joyous aftermath of Always Dreaming’s two-and-three-quarters-length victory as the favorite. Leading the way was Anthony Bonomo, who thanked many people for claiming one of sport’s most coveted trophies, including grooms, hot walkers and exercise riders.

“I don’t even know if there’s words that could describe this,” Bonomo said. “It’s a team. We can’t forget.”

Always Dreaming’s primary ownership is comprised of Bonomo’s Brooklyn Boyz Stables and Teresa Viola, whose husband, Vincent, owns the NHL’s Florida Panthers.

Vincent Viola was born in Brooklyn, b front and center was Bonomo, who heads a medical malpractice insurance firm in New York and is a big-time political donor. He stepped down from the state’s racing association after his firm was tied to a corruption scandal resulting in the conviction of former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Dean Skelos in 2015.

As might be expected from two successful men from the neighborhood, he and Viola reveled in Always Dreaming’s win together.

“To me, it represents everybody who went to the racetrack for the first time with their dads and were just astonished by the brilliance of these equine athletes and fell in love with the sport,” Vincent Viola said.

The crowning achievement for the New Yorkers also provided redemption of sorts for Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez.

Pletcher’s penchant for saturating the Derby field with entrants — 45 in all — had yielded only a 2010 victory with Super Saver.

Velazquez won the Run for the Roses in 2011 aboard Animal Kingdom, but had mostly been a non-factor since.

However, that combination, along with Always Dreaming’s three straight victories in five career starts, helped the horse surpass Classic Empire as the 9-2 favorite on Saturday morning. Always Dreaming then followed through in the slop by coming on in the backstretch and taking charge entering the turn for home.

An emotional Pletcher credited Bonomo and Viola for laying out the strategy that earned them all a satisfying victory.

“As you know in this business, sometimes it works out. A lot of times it doesn’t,” Pletcher said of the strategy devised with Bonomo and Viola. “When you kind of have a vision four or five months in advance, then it all comes together, it’s especially rewarding.”

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