SARATOGA SPRINGS — It took 12 tries, but trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez finally connected to win the Kentucky Derby together this year.
Velazquez has been Pletcher’s top rider for years, and it’s no coincidence that his five riding titles at Saratoga Race Course have occurred during meets in which Pletcher has also won one of his dozen training titles since 1998.
Velazquez rode a Pletcher Derby horse for the 12th time in May, and this time they won the Run for the Roses, with Always Dreaming.
They’ll team up again today when the Derby winner gets a juicy rematch against Preakness winner Cloud Computing, trained by Chad Brown, in the Grade II Jim Dandy, the traditional Saratoga prep for the Travers Stakes.
Velazquez and Pletcher had each won one Derby separately, Velazquez with the Graham Motion-trained Animal Kingdom in 2011, and Pletcher the year before with Super Saver, ridden by Calvin Borel.
“It was one of those things, for me, riding for him for so many years and having so many winners and not winning the Kentucky Derby, to finally get it done and out of the way was definitely extra special,” Velazquez said on Friday. “And the connections, as well, and everybody else. We’ve become very good friends.”
Always Dreaming, a son of Bodemeister, is owned by MeB Racing; Anthony Bonomo’s Brooklyn Boyz; Kentucky-based Siena Farm; Florida Panthers owner Vinny Viola and his wife, Teresa; and a West Point Thoroughbreds group that includes former NYRA track announcer Tom Durkin.
Always Dreaming came back and finished 14th in the Preakness, 14 lengths behind Cloud…
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