Galloping under the wire of the Grade 1 Florida Derby a five-length winner of the race in 1:47.47, Always Dreaming (by Bodemeister) set all those connected with him to dreaming of roses. The performance was an emphatic victory, and it also reminded breeders and racing fans of the sire’s classic season in 2012, when he was second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
This colt is the third stakes winner and first G1 winner for his sire Bodemeister (Empire Maker) and is a member of that young sire’s first crop of racers. Retired to stand at WinStar Farm for the 2013 breeding season, Bodemeister covered large books of high-quality mares, and he has 131 foals in his first crop.
A front-running horse who stayed 10 furlongs, Bodemeister was noted for his speed, which allowed him to win the G1 Arkansas Derby, as well as finish a highly respectable second in the classics above. The speed that Bodemeister showed on the track made him intensely sought-after as a stallion prospect. As respected as any other colt of his year, Bodemeister’s acquisition by WinStar was regarded as a major coup.
In a commercial market attuned to the significance of early speed and its advantages, breeding farms coveted Bodemeister’s speed and potential as a sire in preference to the colt who beat him twice in the classics, I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley). A tractable front-runner with first-rate pace (:22.32, :45.39, and 1:09.80 for the first three fractions in the Derby), Bodemeister missed winning the Preakness by only a neck, and I’ll Have Another was a top-class stretch finisher.
Out of the Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent (G3 Sorrento Stakes), Bodemeister recorded Beyer Speed Figures as high as 109, and a large pool of breeders and owners considered the handsome colt a signature talent.
Additionally, he is one of two major sons by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker (Unbridled), and the other one is Pioneerof the Nile, the sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and other notable racers.
All these positive factors contributed to making Always Dreaming a sought-after yearling when he came to auction in 2015.
Bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners, Always Dreaming sold for $350,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale, with Steve Young signing the ticket as agent. Although 10 Bodemeister yearlings brought more money than Always Dreaming, the bay colt is leading the group on speed and accomplishments.
The speed comes naturally for a colt by the front-running Bodemeister and out of the intensely quick Above Perfection (In Excess), who won the G3 Las Flores Handicap with a Beyer Speed Figure of 113 and ran second to champion Xtra Heat (Dixieland Heat) in the G1 Prioress Stakes.
The 19-year-old mare is now the dam of two G1 winners from 10 named foals of racing age.
The first G1 winner out of Above Perfection was Hot Dixie Chick (Dixie Union), a sizable and quite strongly made filly who won three of her first four starts and achieved her peak form by August of her juvenile season with victory in the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga.
In contrast, Always Dreaming was second and third in his two starts as a 2-year-old and has progressed massively this year at 3. He is unbeaten in 2017 and has graduated from maiden special to allowance to graded stakes in three starts.
If the good-looking colt progresses further in the quest for the classics, it will result in considerable appreciation to the value of other members of the family.
California-bred dam Above Perfection is the dam of an unnamed 2-year-old filly by Medaglia d’Oro that sold for $485,000 as a weanling at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. The mare has a yearling filly by Pioneerof the Nile and was bred to Honor Code.
Above Perfection’s speed and graded success sprang her from the California breeding program to Kentucky, where she has had so much success. She is, however, a model for some of the best elements of California breeding over the past 30 years.
Most notably, her sire In Excess was the best stallion to stand in California since Gummo, at least. He was a hardy, immensely talented horse who became a national influence from his California base at Vessels Stallion Station.
Above Perfection’s dam is by Somethingfabulous (Northern Dancer), whose principal claim to fame was that he was the younger half-brother of Triple Crown winner Secretariat and Kentucky Derby favorite Sir Gaylord. Somethingfabulous wasn’t up to their standard on the racetrack, placing third in the G1 Flamingo Stakes, but he became a useful stallion in the California breeding program and figures in more than a few pedigrees of good horses.
The mare’s second dam is by the terrifically fast and rugged racehorse Terrang, a son of the legendary Khaled (Hyperion), the best stallion to stand in California and a first-rate stallion anywhere. Terrang counted the Santa Anita Handicap and Santa Anita Derby among his dozen stakes victories, and he is one of the sources of speed and ability that litter the pedigree of this year’s Florida Derby winner.