Best On Breeding - Kentucky Derby Edition
Mark Smith - Friday, 5 May 2017

Plenty of Antipodean interest in this weekend's Kentucky Derby, firstly with the New Zealander Steven Nicholson and wife Brandi the breeders of likely favourite Classic Empire; then there's Helmet's Irish-bred, UAE Derby winner Thunder Snow; and Aussie-born trainer Ian Wilkes saddles up a genuine hope in the Ghostzapper colt McCracken.

Having said all that, it's hard to go past the Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming who is coming off a 5-length score in the Grade I Florida Derby.

A $350,000 Keeneland yearling, raced just twice at two, finishing second and third when trained by Dominick Schettino.

Switched to Pletcher, Always Dreaming broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs at his 3yo bow then back that up with a comfortable all the way win in an allowance at Gulfstream Park.

He then took the quantum leap to Grade I level in the Florida Derby and passed that test with ease.

Always Dreaming (photo WinStar Coady Photography) comes from the first crop of WinStar Farm's Arkansas Derby winner Bodmeister who finished second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2012.

Bodemeister is by Classic winner Empire Maker whose son Pioneer of the Nile is the sire of Triple Crown Champion and Horse of the Year American Pharoah as well as this year's Kentucky Derby hope Classic Empire.

The tenth foal of his dam Above Perfection, Always Dreaming is a half-brother to Grade I Spinaway Stakes winner Hot Dixie Chick (Dixie Union).

A daughter of In Excess, Above Perfection was a slick sprinter winning four stakes races including the Grade III Las Flores Stakes at Santa Anita.

Her Medaglia d'Oro (USA) 2yo filly was a $485,000 weanling and Above Perfection had a Pioneer Of The Nile filly last year. 

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