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Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: Will Alwaysmining hit the trail?

By Jonathan Lintner | Horse Racing Nation

Owners Gregory and Caroline Bentley have discussed the pros and cons of sending impressive Maryland-bred stakes winner Alwaysmining down the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail. But that conversation happened before their colt aced his two-turn test last Saturday in Laurel Park's Private Terms Stakes.

Their racing manager, Joe Cassidy, figures to revisit the topic.

“I think I have to sit down with the Bentleys and say, ‘This is lightning in a bottle. Do you want to take a shot?’” Cassidy said. “But we haven’t quite got that far yet.”

The son of Stay Thirsty won the Private Terms by 6 3/4 lengths under Daniel Centeno, who went to the whip just once to keep his mount focused in the stretch. It set up two options for the gelding — and, yes, his equipment status is an important consideration here — moving forward:

• More likely is another Laurel Park stakes for Alwaysmining, who bases at Fair Hill in Maryland. The April 20 Federico Tesio at 1 1/8 miles awards a “Win and You’re In” spot to the Preakness Stakes. • Connections also nominated Alwaysmining to Keeneland’s April 6 Blue Grass Stakes(G2), a major prep in which the Top 2 finishers qualify on points for the Kentucky Derby.

“After each race we think, ‘Well, maybe,’” said trainer Kelly Rubley. “But there’s not a huge push on my part. He’s a gelding, which doesn’t necessarily make it a no-go. We haven’t ruled it out yet.”

After three races in Kentucky for former connections of owner Jim McIngvale and trainer Larue Wohlers, Alwaysmining broke his maiden June 30 at Laurel Park, attracting a private purchase by his current ownership, which competes under the Runnymede Racing banner.

It was a corner turned Oct. 27 when Alwaysmining beat winners for the first time, starting a current five-race win streak that includes four stakes.

“He just seems to be developing into this amazing stride,” Rubley said, “and he has such a beautiful, big gallop, and obviously that’s what helps him be so successful.”

Rubley said Alwaysmining was set to return to the track Wednesday following the Private Terms. She told Cassidy that the victory “did take its toll,” leading to a bit more rest and relaxation exiting.

While Alwaysmining bounces back, the Bentleys will get to talking.

“If he was a colt, this would be the easiest answer in the world, right?” Cassidy said. “Honestly, being a gelding changes things.”

Rubley added, “I think we’re looking at the big picture for this horse.”

Having casually run steeplechase horses for two decades, the Bentleys caught the Thoroughbred bug as co-owners of Hardest Core, the 2014 Arlington Million (G1) winner. Now they both breed and race, with most of their mares likely to produce runners with dirt pedigrees.

Recent purchases have also included a half-sister to Alwaysmining by Fast Anna. Alwaysmining’s accomplishments vaulted the filly’s worth to $100,000. Maybe by May, that will look like a bargain.

“The numbers say he’s a very nice horse,” Cassidy said. “He’s done things very easily. I think there are a lot of questions to answer — about when someone heads him, what’s he going to do? If he gets dirt kicked in his face, what’s he going to do? He’s had things pretty much his own way.

“…It’s our first time with a horse like this, and we want to do right by him. We’re feeling our way into it.”

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