Examining the Pedigree: Always Dreaming was Always Destined for Greatness

Always Dreaming Truck
Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming will run in the Preakness on May 20.

The 2017 Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, has done just about everything right. He was foaled by a high-class dam, Above Perfection, who has already produced a Grade 1 winner.

He sold for over ten times his sire’s stud fee as a yearling. He even moved into Todd Pletcher’s barn at the right time. After winning the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Always Dreaming has now won four of his six starts with earnings of $2,284,700. This strapping colt broke well, got position, snagged the lead turning for home, and lengthened his lead coming down the most famous stretch run in racing.

This sire line is well known around Churchill Downs, now with four generations finishing either first or second in the Derby dating back to 1990 (Always Dreaming, Bodemeister, Empire Maker, Unbridled).

Where does all of this pedigree power come from? This writer has always been a fan of the Rasmussen Factor, created by Leon Rasmussen. This unique in-breeding is to a superior female within five generations through different individuals. This occurs in just about four percent of the thoroughbred population.

Bodemeister carries this through, not one, but two of his ancestors, Unbridled and A.P. Indy. It seems like every Saturday afternoon we are seeing a Graded Stakes race being won by a horse with at least one of these two influential sires in their pedigrees.

Always Dreaming also picks up another cross of the great mare, Imperatrice, not through another Secretariat offspring, but this time in his half brother, Somethingfabulous (by Northern Dancer, out of Somethingroyal).

Somethingfabulous has not been the best in passing on his prolific gene pool, but when crossed with other descendants of Imperatrice, you create a horse that can do what we witnessed last Saturday.

There are several stallions in current pedigrees that trace to Imperatrice. Besides Secretariat and his many successful grandson sires, you have El Prado, Medaglila d’Oro, Somethingfabulous, Sir Gaylord, and Cure the Blues.

Above Perfection, the dam of Always Dreaming, brings a vast amount of class into the winner’s circle, too. She was a superior dirt sprinter by a speed influence, In Excess. Don’t forget that In Excess won the Woodward Stakes going 1 ¼ miles in 1:58.1!

After 2008, North American racing went six years before having a colt crowned Horse of the Year. There were three fillies and one gelding in that time period. Since 2014, we have now had three super colts in California Chrome, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and Arrogate. Will we see another in 2017?

We’ll talk in two weeks.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Rob Murphy

    Rob Murphy

    A horse racing and thoroughbred enthusiast, Murphy has devised his own method for handicapping and breeding. Murphy's company, M375 Thoroughbreds, Inc., has bred, raised and raced successful horses such as Platinum Tiara, Swing and Miss, Diamond Studs, Strike Three and Golden Spikes. Murphy is a former Major League Baseball player. ...

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