Always Dreaming's Breeders Beaming, Hoping For Triple Crown Glory

May 19, 2017

Always Dreaming will be aiming to win the second leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday Evening at the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. As WUKY’s Samantha Lederman reports, this Kentucky Derby winner will be carrying the hopes of breeders Gerry Dilger and Mike Ryan, as well as a large and tight-knit Irish community here in Lexington along with him.

Lexington breeder Gerry Dilger pictured with Above Perfection, dam of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming
Credit Samantha Lederman

Come Saturday afternoon a calm will descend upon the farms in Central Kentucky as most of the staff try to finish up their chores early in time to watch the Preakness, and a large contingent of the Irish community will return to McCarthy’s Pub in downtown Lexington where they all watched and then celebrated breeder Gerry Dilger’s victory in the Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming two weeks ago.

From County Clare, Ireland, Dilger has now bred and raised a Kentucky Derby winner on his Lexington, Kentucky farm.  He’s been here almost four decades, got married and raised his own family here, but there’s still no denying his strong Irish roots.

Dilger bred Always Dreaming with his business partner, fellow Irishman bloodstock agent Mike Ryan. They’ve known each other almost as long as Dilger’s been in Kentucky and have been successful in various deals over the years, however when they bred a mare they bought together in 2006, Above Perfection, to Bodemeister, Dilger knew immediately that they’d struck gold.

Dilger and Ryan now own a half sister to Always Dreaming, a filly, a year younger, out of the same dam but by American Pharoah’s sire, Pioneer of the Nile.  This year, they bred that same mare, Above Perfection, the dam of Ky Derby winner Always Dreaming, who at 19 years old now, couldn’t look better or stronger, to Nyquist, a Kentucky Derby winner himself a year ago, and a horse who also passed through Ryan and Dilger’s hands.

Dilger’s farm Dromoland is named after an Irish castle although it couldn’t be more quintessentially bluegrass, nestled on the outskirts of Lexington and boasting rolling acres of post and rail fenced paddocks.  Dromoland has remained fairly small and very personal with a charming attention to detail.

There’s no denying the disproportionate amount that Dilger, Ryan and his fellow Irishmen here in Central Kentucky have managed to achieve. Do they have a better eye, work harder, stick together? All of the above? Dilger acknowledges that horses were part of his upbringing and something he always wanted to do with his life.

They’ll all be gathered together at Mccarthy’s on Saturday, dreaming of a big win, the second leg in the Triple crown.

Always Dreaming will break as the favourite from Post Number 4 in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday.