Saudi Crown's top-level success in the Sept. 23 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) not only bolstered his own meteoric star status heading into the Breeders' Cup, but that of his sire, 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Always Dreaming .
Like his son, Always Dreaming was another who followed the fast track to fame in the spring of 2017 following three successive wins—including a five-length blowout in the Florida Derby (G1). The Todd Pletcher trainee, owned in a powerful partnership comprised of Brooklyn Boyz Stables, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, Siena Farm, West Point Thoroughbreds, MeB Racing Stables, and St. Elias Stables, started as the 9-2 favorite in the Run for the Roses. The sloppy sealed track couldn't dampen the Always Dreaming parade, and he splashed to a 2 3/4-length victory under the Twin Spires with runners such as Classic Empire, Practical Joke , and Tapwrit all left reeling in his wake.
Always Dreaming never won again.
He was retired five starts and one year after his Derby glory, settling into WinStar Farm to stand alongside his sire, Bodemeister for a fee of $25,000. Despite covering 165 mares in his first book, the stallion was a bit of a disappointment last year and finished 18th in the first crop sire standings. His best performer and sole stakes winner until Saudi Crown had been the Ohio-bred Grand Isle, winner of the 2022 Best of Ohio Juvenile Stakes at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course.
Always Dreaming was vaulted into 11th on the second crop sires list with $2,439,104 in progeny earnings for the year following Saturday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby. The win pushed Saudi Crown's own bankroll to $817,085.
The lightly-raced Saudi Crown, campaigned by FMQ Stables, had suffered crushing defeats at the hands of two of arguably the leading horses in the 3-year-old division entering the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby. He was edged by a neck to Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) winner Arcangelo in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) in May before dropping a nose decision to three-time grade 1 winner and 2022 champion juvenile colt Forte in the July 29 Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga Race Course.
"In the Peter Pan, he was beaten by obviously a very good horse (in Arcangelo) and in his last run (Jim Dandy) he was beaten by a champion (Forte)," Saudi Crown's trainer Brad Cox told FanDuel TV after the Pennsylvania Derby. "(The Jim Dandy) was his first time around two turns and he got a lot out of it. We gave him the time after and this race has been the plan since the Dwyer.
"He's a very talented horse. He's run five times and now has a grade 1 win."
Saudi Crown, a proverbial front-runner whose three wins have all come in wire-to-wire fashion, proved he could stretch his speed to 1 1/8 miles Saturday but it is yet to be determined if he can tackle the extra furlong. Cox feels that the colt's stamina-laden pedigree, being by Always Dreaming and a grandson of Tapit , the sire of five Belmont Stakes (G1) victors, could help steer the colt to the starting gate in the Nov. 5 $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).
"It'd be the Classic or the Mile," Cox said. "I'd have to say based off of what he's accomplished maybe the 1 1/4 miles is definitely within reach."
Regardless of the Breeders' Cup event, a victory by Saudi Crown in either race would be another tremendous milestone accomplishment for Always Dreaming as a stallion, who never competed in the championships himself during his Derby-winning season.