How long does a Kentucky Derby winner last? Ask a certain guy from New York and he is going to give the answer horse racing fans want to hear.
When Always Dreaming won the 2017 Kentucky Derby with a near perfect mile and a quarter, Brooklyn-born buddies Vincent Viola and Anthony Bonomo were in rarified air for sure. The magic of the world’s most famous Thoroughbred race was front and center for these two long-time friends. Growing up at the New York tracks with their fathers, Viola and his old pal were on top of the world after a brilliant run by their regally bred colt.
“I still don’t know if it has sunk in yet,” says Viola. “I really can’t accurately describe what it’s like. Here we are nearly two months later and it still is just unbelievable. I think about all those days at the track with my father and falling in love with the sport and now we are living a dream. This has been very humbling for me. Any time my day is not going so well all I have to do is remember oh my gosh, I won the Kentucky Derby.”
The Preakness did not pan out quite as well for the Always Dreaming team. Starting strong, this son of Bodemeister tired in the stretch after leading through the opening three quarters of a mile and finished eighth. Triple Crown thoughts may have crashed, but the West Point graduate is ready to keep his colt running.
“Dreaming has had a little time off now and has put some weight back on,” says Viola. “He’s doing great and we look forward to running him in the Jim Dandy and then the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Of course our year end goal is the Breeders’ Cup.”
Hoping to use a New York path to top three-year old male honors, Viola has put his trust in trainer Todd Pletcher. As one of the top conditioners in the country, Pletcher took a horse that did not win at two and made him into a legend at three. Pulling all the right strings, he has this colt ready for a run at such honors after winning the Florida Derby before he took the Roses. Now, the Gotham state staple looks toward big things for his New York clients.
“It has been an incredible spring,” says Pletcher who won his second Derby with Dreaming and also took the 2017 Belmont with Tapwrit. “It has been a little bit of a roller coaster, but we are looking very forward to the rest of the summer and making a run at the Travers.”
Anybody in the business understands long range plans are always written in pencil. Injury is always a concern among many other variables of the sport. Fully understanding the ups and downs the track can offer, Viola has made a statement that has many already Dreaming about 2018.
“Right now, our intentions are to run Always Dreaming as a four-year old,” says the highly successful owner of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. “Anthony and I said to each other if we could ever have a Kentucky Derby winner we wanted to keep him running through his four-year old season. We are fans of the sport first and horse owners second. I really hope we can get him back to form and run him next year. First and foremost we love the sport and want to do what is best for the sport if we can.”
Viola’s statements are music to the ears of race fans everywhere. Seeing a past Kentucky Derby winner run is always a treat and brings the excitement to another level. Obviously the breeding shed money is out there for the Dream team, but the racing fan in them is willing to put that stuff on hold for hopefully at least the rest of this year and next.
“We want to keep this ride going as long as we can,” says Viola. “Anthony and I are just a couple of two dollar bettors that happened to win the Kentucky Derby. This whole thing has just been unbelievable and having grown up at the track helps us understand the need to keep Dreaming on the track.”
Hopes are high everywhere Viola will get to keep his promise to himself and run Always Dreaming through 2018. Soon enough however, he will understand the aptly named Always Dreaming will not last forever, but h