The distaff side of Always Dreaming's pedigree does not exactly shout 10 furlongs, but then neither did the pedigree of his broodmare sire In Excess, who scorched the legs out from under four Grade I fields at distances from 8 to 10 furlongs in 1991. Fast horses tend to make their own racing luck, and a horse with the ability to click off nearly even fractions throughout a route race is extremely dangerous whether skimming along on an uncontested lead or stalking.
The down side to Always Dreaming, as with many others in this year's possible Kentucky Derby field, is his lack of racing experience. No one knows how he will respond if racing circumstances take him out of his preferred running style, and no one knows whether he is rising up to a peak at the right time or whether he will regress from Saturday's effort at precisely the wrong time. So far, the only potential North American-based Derby horses to have demonstrated that they can fire consistently are Gunnevera, who ran his usual solid race behind Always Dreaming to be third off a six-wide final turn, and Girvin, who added the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (USA-II) to his earlier score in the Risen Star Stakes (USA-II)---and Girvin's rather erratic course in the stretch was not as solid as one might like to see for a final Derby prep. The other possible horse who has shown he can put good races back to back is Thunder Snow, whose successes have come in Dubai.
Next week's 9-furlong preps should sort out most of the pretenders from the contenders, and many horsemen look to McCraken to re-establish himself at the top of the Derby pileup. Nonetheless, for this week at least, the crown belongs to Always Dreaming. We'll see if he can keep it when it counts.