Always Dreaming takes first step toward return at age 4

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Trainer Todd Pletcher said that Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming shipped back into his barn on Wednesday and galloped for the first time at Palm Beach Downs on Thursday. Always Dreaming has not started since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Travers in August.

"He looks great," said Pletcher. "He put on a lot of weight. He's really filled out and seems to have made a very good transition from the beginning of his 3-year-old season to the end. And he's back now at a place we know he likes to train at."

Pletcher said "we just needed to regroup" after the Travers before deciding whether to bring Always Dreaming back for a 4-year-old campaign.

"He checked out well physically, so we made the decision to try and bring him back and hope he regains the form he showed at the beginning of his 3-year-old season," Pletcher said. "We're in no rush with him. The idea, hopefully, is to have a fresh horse this summer and fall. He'll gallop 30 days before he's ready to breeze. We'll know more once he's gotten into a regular breeze schedule."

Pletcher had a busy Thursday morning at Palm Beach Downs prior to heading back north to spend the holiday with his family, working nearly three dozen horses, including Malagacy and the promising 2-year-old Noble Indy.

Malagacy, a winner of his first three starts, including the Grade 2 Rebel, has not raced since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

"He had his first five-eighths breeze this morning," Pletcher said. "He looks good and happy, but he's probably a month or so away from running. He had no major issues, he just didn't seem like himself when we took him to Churchill Downs with the thought of running him in the Derby or Preakness, so we decided to stop and give him some time."

Pletcher said that Noble Indy, an 8 3/4-length winner of his debut here on Dec. 3, will be nominated for the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 6, but is more likely to make his 3-year-old debut against allowance company.